Braves acquire reliever Chris Martin from Rangers, turn page on once heralded prospect Kolby Allard

Chris Martin, who has the majors' fifth-best walk rate among qualified relievers at 0.95 per nine, has struck out 43 in 38 innings over 38 games.
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports/Raymond Carlin III

Seeking bullpen help, the Atlanta Braves began addressing that need ahead of the trade deadline with an under-the-radar acquisition Tuesday night, landing right-hander Chris Martin from the Rangers in exchange for prospect Kolby Allard.

“He may not be as well-known as the (other relievers on the trade market) … but we felt he had as much upside as anybody in the trade market,” said Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

The 33-year-old Martin, who has the majors’ fifth-best walk rate among qualified relievers at 0.95 per nine, has struck out 43 in 38 innings over 38 games. He also saved four games for Texas.

Martin joined the Rangers in 2017 after two seasons in Japan with the Nippon Ham Fighters and is a free agent after this season.

“His numbers speak for themselves,” Anthopoulos said. “Strike-thrower, very good stuff, good velocity. Someone we think can emerge for us at the back end of the bullpen.”

In exchange, Atlanta moved on from Allard, the No. 14 pick in the 2015 draft. The left-handed starter, who was the first of three first-round picks in that draft — ahead of Mike Soroka (28th) and Austin Riley (41st) — was at one time the organization’s No. 2 prospect and the top arm in the system.

But Allard struggled in three appearances last year for the Braves with a 12.38 ERA over eight innings with three home runs allowed. He had a 4.17 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett this season.

The deal with Martin had been in the works, but late Tuesday afternoon was the first time that Anthopoulos felt like the Braves could pull it off.

“Someone we’ve been working on for a while,” Anthopoulos said. “We were getting to the point that we’re still working on other things. You don’t want to leave everything to the last day, so excited to push the deal across the finish line tonight.”

The Braves may not be done ahead of Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline. There’s the expectation that they could still supplement a rotation that’s been erratic on the back end, an offense that’s without leader and Gold Glove winner Nick Markakis in right field and still add another option in the bullpen.

The team has been linked to a number of starting pitchers, among them the Diamondbacks’ Robbie Ray, the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, a relief arms like the Mets’ Edwin Diaz. But it’s worth noting that Anthopoulos often likes to keep his deals under wraps, a la the Martin acquisition coming out of nowhere.

“We can improve in so many areas. We can improve in our rotation, we can improve offensively, we can improve in the bullpen. … Because we can improve in so may ways we’re not so specific in terms of a position, whether that’s reliever, starter. We’re trying to line up if there’s a player we like and the acquisition cost makes sense, we’ll pursue it.”