The Texas Rangers finally got involved in the trade market dealing lockdown reliever Chris Martin to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night for a notable pitching prospect.
It took awhile, but the Texas Rangers finally made a deal of note in this trade season. Texas sent veteran reliever Chris Martin to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for lefty pitching prospect Kolby Allard. Martin was a likely player to be moved by the Rangers considering his pending free agency and the Rangers falling out of contention over the past few weeks.
Martin, who was in the 2nd season of a 2-year deal with Texas that brought him back from a stint in Japan, was enjoying a solid season to this point. Through 38 games, Martin had posted a 3.08 ERA and a 1.026 WHIP while recording 43 strikeouts in 38 total innings. He’d been especially impressive of late posting a 1.45 ERA and a 2.21 FIP since May 24th. Over that stretch, he’s struck out 24 while allowing just 1 walk and 3 earned runs. He has emerged as one of the better late inning relievers in the game and was a dark horse as an impact trade asset for a contender.
Who Did Texas Get?
This was a player for player swap for the Rangers and in exchange for Chris Martin they received pitching prospect Kolby Allard. Allard, who at the time of the trade, ranked 10th in the Atlanta Braves prospect rankings, is a 21-year old, 6’1″ left-hander. He was pitching for the Braves Triple-A affiliate, Gwinnett, and had made 20 starts for the Stripers. So far this season, he’d posted a 4.17 ERA and thrown 110 innings.
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If the name Kolby Allard rings a bell, it’s likely because he’s only a couple years removed from being a Top 25 prospect in baseball and the top lefty pitching prospect in the game as well. He’s fallen off since then, mostly due to a surprising decrease in velocity. His fastball, which used to sit in the low-90’s, now tops out around 90 mph which is concerning. He’s never been a massive strikeout guy but the drop in velocity has also hurt his development and projection some while also allowing opponents to hit .284 off of him in Triple-A this season.
MLB Prospect Watch notes Allard’s command which will prove crucial to his ability to succeed in the big leagues. In 2017, it was thought that he could reach ceiling of an early-rotation starter. That expectation quickly dropped to a back-end starter but one who has nearly reached that level at just 21-years old. He features a plus curve and plus changeup according the MLB.com but like mentioned above, he relies heavily on his command.
Outlook for Allard
For the Rangers, Allard slotted in at #16 in the organization according to Prospect Watch. A little surprising considering how highly thought of the Braves system is that he would be considerably lower in Texas’ but it goes to show that the Rangers have amassed a number of middle of the road prospects that help fill out the organization.
I wouldn’t expect Allard to spend notable time in Arlington before next season as I’d imagine the Rangers may want to try and figure out why he’s seen a drop in velocity recently. While he may have fallen from the heights of the Braves organization, he still has a good shot at competing for a spot in the Rangers’ rotation next season which is a massive plus for Texas who will have a number of guys competing for time.
If Allard can get to the point where he’s a reliable 4-5 starter for the long-term, that’s a pretty solid return for a rental, right-handed reliever, that isn’t a closer. If he can get back to his former heights, Texas may have just gotten away with robbery especially since I think there’s a decent shot they could pull a Jesse Chavez, and bring Chris Martin back to Arlington this offseason. Because we aren’t already looking at this deal as lopsided in Texas’ favor, it’s not an A+. However, it’s fun to get a recognizable name for Martin and more importantly, one that is more or less big league ready. If he plays any significant role in the Rangers future rotation, it’s a win.