Padres notes: Padres’ Nick Martinez bets on himself again; Stammen wants to keep pitching; playoff shares

Nick Martinez bet on himself when he went to Japan in 2017.

He became a better pitcher and returned to Major League Baseball in 2022, signing a contract with the Padres that was essentially another bet on himself.

That four-year deal allowed him to opt out after every season if he chose, which is what Martinez did earlier this month before re-signing with the Padres. And his new three-year contract also is something of a wager that he will once again prove himself worthy of more.

“It’s a very interesting contract,” Martinez said Tuesday. “Very unique in that it provides a lot of stability for my family. And it reflects a lot of the work that I’ve done and a lot of success that I’ve (had) in some crucial roles. I think it rewards that versatility that I had last year and still leaves room for me to prove myself as a starter. I didn’t have a whole lot of bulk as a starter to be like, ‘Hey, I demand this much’ or ‘I’m a number three starter, let me have it.’ But I think the Padres know and A.J. (Preller, Padres President of Baseball Operations) knows that I can do that. It’s just now is just to kind of go out and prove it.

“I don’t know if other teams would have been able to kind of be as creative as A.J. and his team were in constructing this contract and give me the flexibility, the stability, as well as a little more room there to kind of keep that hunger to keep going, keep that competitor in me going.”

The contract, which was agreed to last week but officially announced Tuesday, is a creative collaboration that virtually guarantees the Padres will give Martinez a legitimate chance to be a starter in 2023 while protecting them either way.

Martinez will make $10 million in ’23, a figure that is in line with mid-rotation starters. Should he perform at that level (or better), the team can exercise an option after the season that would assure Martinez $16 million in both ‘24 and ‘25.

If the team declined its option, Martinez would then have options after the ’23 and ’24 seasons to either become a free agent or make $8 million a year with the Padres.

The contract also includes performance-based escalators that could raise his salary significantly based on number of starts, relief appearances and games finished, as well as other markers.

Martinez posted a 4.30 ERA in 10 starts last season but ended up being a godsend for the Padres out of the bullpen. In 37 relief appearances (54 innings), he had a 2.67 ERA and finished with eight saves and eight holds. His .209 batting average allowed in high-leverage situations was 30 points lower than his overall average allowed.

He began the season in the rotation before being moved to the bullpen in May when Blake Snell and Mike Clevinger returned from injury. Martinez made two more starts in June before assuming a permanent role as a reliever, in which he worked every inning from the fourth to the ninth and became the first pitcher in MLB history to make 10 starts and earn at least eight holds and eight saves in a single season.

“That I can go out for a full season and kind of let loose of the reins and show that I can carry that workload and prove to be … a three, four or five (starter) or whatever, prove that I can do that,” Martinez said of the improvements he can make in 2023. “I believe in myself. I know that I can. I’ve just kind of got to show it now.”

He believes his experience in 2022 will help.

“Obviously, pitching in those late-inning situations, there is a different mindset — a little less breathing room and a little bit more nasty has to come out,” he said. “There’s no time to mess around. It’s right after these guys. So there’s definitely things that I can take from my role as a reliever to starting. The most obvious one is finishing games. If I’m able to be efficient enough to get into that seventh, eighth inning, then I know what gear I have to kind of get into to kind of step on some throats.”

Stammen keeps going

Reliever Craig Stammen has decided to continue his career.

The right-hander, who will turn 39 in March, is currently going through the process of talking to other teams. His two-year contract with the Padres ended after the season. He joined the Padres in 2017 and was the second-longest tenured Padres player after Wil Myers (2015).

“I just love playing,” Stammen said. “I wasn’t ready. I want to go out a little better than I went out last year. I’m going to try to give it another go.”

Stammen had his ‘22 season interrupted by a shoulder injury in July and returned after a PRP injection and two months’ rest. He finished with 4.43 ERA over 33 appearances (40 2/3 innings). He pitched three innings in the season’s final game in an effort to help save the team’s other pitchers and was not active during the postseason.

In his time with the Padres, his 394 1/3 innings led all major league relievers.

“I felt great at the end of the season,” Stammen said. “I’ve continued to throw. … I feel too good to not keep playing.”

Record shares

MLB announced a record postseason player pool of $107.5 million on Tuesday.

The players’ share of playoff revenue resulted in the Padres receiving 70 shares worth $152,709 apiece. The team will also award 16.47 partial shares and various cash awards to support staff and others in the organization, according to MLB.com.

The record haul for players, which is 50 percent of the gate receipts from the wild-card round and 60 percent of the gate from subsequent playoff rounds, was due to the addition of the best-of-three wild-card series.

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