About 2 minutes reading time.

Nick Martinez Replaces Clayton Kershaw on Team USA at World Baseball Classic

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 21st, 2023 2:23am EST

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

San Diego Padres right-handed pitcher Nick Martinez will replace the Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw on The United States World Baseball Classic roster. The move was made after Kershaw announced at spring training he would not be able to participate. 

Kershaw couldn’t get an insurance policy to cover his $20 million dollar salary for the 2023 season if he were to play in the WBC, citing past back injuries.

“It’s definitely surprising,” Kershaw said, “I’m 100 percent healthy. Nothing is wrong with me. I didn’t think there would be issues… They should make it easy for guys who want to play, play.”

Nick Martinez will join a talented United States pitching staff that includes Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Brady Singer, and Kyle Freeland, who replaced the injured Nestor Cortes. Martinez is headed into his second season with San Diego, after recording a 3.47 ERA in 106.1 innings pitched in 2022. During the winter, Martinez and the Padres agreed to a three-year, $26 million dollar contract. He will make $10 million in 2023, and has $16 million dollar options for both 2024 and 2025. 

San Diego used Martinez mostly in relief, but he did make 10 starts in 2022. His role in the WBC could look similar for Team USA, which already has five starting pitchers on the roster. He will join Jason Adam and Brooks Raley as likely long-relief candidates. If needed, he could also act as an opener, pitching the first inning only, followed by the rest of the bullpen. 

Nick Martinez is no stranger to playing international baseball. He spent six seasons in Japan’s NPB with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham-Fighters and Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. His best season came in 2021 with the Softbank Hawks, he had a 1.60 ERA in 149.2 innings, only allowing six home runs and striking out 138. Those impressive numbers led him to San Diego, and now Phoenix, Ariz. with Team USA for the first round of the WBC, and a chance to play alongside some of the best United States baseball talent. 

Martinez and Team USA will play two exhibition games against the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels in Scottsdale, Ariz. on March 8 and 9, before heading to Phoenix. Their first official World Baseball Classic game will be on March 11, against Great Britain. The contest will be played at 9 p.m. ET at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.