Image credit: Jose Martinez (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with the first of two players to be named later the Rays received from the Cubs.)
Despite their list of brand-name offensive stars, the Cubs entered Sunday with a .740 OPS, tied for 17th in MLB, and an underwhelming .225/.329/.411 slash line overall.
They made a move to bolster their sagging offense just over 24 hours before the trade deadline, acquiring Jose Martinez from the Rays in exchange for two prospects to be named later or cash considerations. The Cubs designated catcher Josh Phegley for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster.
Martinez, 32, was acquired by the Rays during the offseason but received only 76 plate appearances due to Tampa Bay’s crowded outfield/DH picture.
Jose Martinez, OF/DH
Cubs designated hitters have hit .206/.304/.244 this year and the team overall has hit just .208/.325/.333 against lefthanded pitchers. Martinez solves both problems. A defensively-challenged, righthanded slugger, Martinez is a tailor-made DH who has hit .319/.392/.554 against lefties in his career. He isn’t bad against righties either, posting a .286/.351/.423 career line against same-side pitching. Martinez is also innately familiar with the pitchers and ballparks in the NL Central after playing his entire major league career with the Cardinals before this season. Martinez is a huge liability defensively any time he takes the field, so he should be in line for the bulk of Cubs DH at-bats. He is arbitration-eligible after this season and won’t be a free agent until after 2022.
Pedro Martinez, 2B/SS
Martinez is part of a pack of gifted middle infielders in the Cubs’ system and ranked No. 21 in their system at midseason. He showed enough bat-to-ball skills from both sides of the plate in the Rookie-level Arizona League last year to warrant a promotion to short-season Eugene in the typically college-heavy Northwest League. Scouts believe he could be a potentially plus defender at second base. Despite his size, evaluators believe his knowledge of the strike zone could be an indicator that he’ll start producing more power as he moves up the ladder.
There is still one more player to be named later as a part of this deal.