The Cubs made a deadline deal, albeit not the big blockbuster that many had hoped for. The Cubs acquired 29-year-old Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin from the Mariners for a player to be named later. The Mariners will also include cash in the deal to offset Martin’s salary.
#Cubs acquired Leonys Martin. They did not trade for Justin Verlander.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) September 1, 2017
I’ll talk about that second sentence in a moment. Martin was the Mariners starting center fielder in 2016 and started the 2017 season in center at Safeco Field as well. But Martin has had a miserable season with the bat this year and he was designated for assignment at the end of April. He easily cleared waivers because of his annual salary this season of $4,850,000. The Mariners purchased his contract again and he was called up to Seattle on June 30. The Mariners again designated him for assignment on August 25.
From being DFA’d twice, you have to know that Martin has been terrible at the plate this year. In Seattle, he’s hit a paltry .174/.221/.287 with three home runs in 122 plate appearances. But last season he was much better, hitting .246/.306/.378 with 15 home runs and 24 steals. Combined with his strong defense, that was good enough for a 1.2 WAR according to baseball-reference and a 2.2 WAR per Fangraphs.
In Martin, the Cubs get a left-handed hitting outfielder with some speed and some pop. He’ll be able to serve as a pinch-runner and a strong defensive replacement in any of the three outfield positions.
If Martin continues to hit like he did in Seattle, then he probably won’t get many at-bats down the stretch. But he did hit a healthy .307/.348/.494 at Triple-A Tacoma, which is one of the toughest-hitting ballparks in the PCL. It’s likely that Martin’s true offensive ability is closer to his 2016 level than what he’s done in 2017.
As far as Justin Verlander goes, he was traded to the Astros for three top prospects from a loaded Astros system. There have been reports that Verlander wanted to go to the Cubs and was blocking a deal to Houston in order to force a deal to Chicago. But the Cubs reportedly never came close to matching the offer the Astros made and perhaps they couldn’t have after the Jose Quintana/Justin Wilson/Alex Avila deals. With the clock running out, Verlander accepted a deal to Houston rather than continue to play out the string in Detroit.
I’m sure that there will be moves on the 40-man roster tomorrow.
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