The Yankees have released right-hander Chris Martin so he can sign with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, the team announced. Martin has released a statement through the Ham Fighters saying he’s happy to join the team. (It’s really just the Fighters, but c’mon.)
Here is Martin’s statement, via Yakyu Baka:
I am very pleased to officially become a part of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters organization. I want to thank the Fighters organization for the wonderful opportunity. I will do my best to meet the expectations of the Fighters and the fans next season by working hard during the off-season. I am ready to give what I have to help the team win a pennant and the Nippon Series.
Martin, 29, came over from the Rockies in a cash trade last offseason. He had a strong Spring Training, made the Opening Day roster, and was literally the first reliever Joe Girardi used in 2015 — Martin replaced Masahiro Tanaka on Opening Day and struck out all three batters he faced. Martin fanned 13 and walked two in his first eleven innings of the season. He even picked up a save in late-April when the usual late-inning guys needed a day to rest.
Forty-man roster space is limited this offseason and Martin figured to be a casualty whenever a spot was needed, especially since the Yankees are deep in right-handed relievers with minor league options. Since Martin was still under Yankees control, chances are they’re getting a little cash from the Ham Fighters for granting his release. That’s usually how it works. Martin will undoubtedly make quite a bit more money in Japan than he would as an up-and-down arm here. That’s why he’s making the move.
Between Martin’s release and the other transactions earlier this week, the Yankees now have five open spots on the 40-man roster. It’s really only one spot though — Domingo German (elbow), Jacob Lindgren (elbow), Chase Whitley (elbow), and Mason Williams (shoulder) have to be activated off the DL by Friday. The deadline to set the 40-man for the Rule 5 Draft is November 20th.
Update: The Yankees received $750,000 from the Ham Fighters for Martin, the team announced. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Update II: Martin received a two-year contract worth $1.7M, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith. He also gets $300,000 in incentives. Good for him!