Sunday, the Cubs sent two players to be named later or cash considerations to the Rays for Jose Martinez.
This is not a trade that the Chicago Cubs would have made before the 2020 season, because Martinez is, at this stage of his career, pretty much a designated hitter and not someone who’ll play the field, and the NL didn’t have the DH until now. You likely remember his attempts at playing outfield for the Cardinals — it was not pretty. He can play a passable first base, though I certainly wouldn’t want him to be there instead of Anthony Rizzo unless a game’s in a blowout situation.
Martinez is a .319/.392/.554 lifetime hitter against lefthanded pitching, which is where he’s most likely to be used by the Cubs. On the other hand, the Cubs don’t face a lot of lefties — this year they’ve faced only seven lefthanded starters in 34 games. Martinez hits righthanders reasonably well — .286/.351/.423 in his career — so I’d expect David Ross to use him almost every day as the designated hitter.
This year, Martinez is hitting roughly the same vs. LHP and RHP, though both are in a fairly small sample size:
vs. LHP: .229/.289/.429, 8-for-35, one home run
vs. RHP: .250/.368/.344, 8-for-32, one home run
A bit better BA/OBP vs. righties, a better SLG vs. lefties, again, in not very many plate appearances.
Martinez is under team control for two more seasons after 2020 and is arbitration-eligible next year. If the NL retains the DH going forward — and I think that’s the likely scenario — the Cubs might wind up keeping him.
Incidentally, when I was looking up info on Martinez Sunday, I learned that he’s the son of Carlos Martinez.
No, not the Cardinals pitcher — this Carlos Martinez, who played for the White Sox, Indians and Angels in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jose Martinez’ dad passed away in 2006, far too young at age 40, from stomach cancer.
Today is MLB’s annual trading deadline. It comes up at 3 p.m. CT. I didn’t think the Cubs would make any deals this year, but since they already have, it’s entirely possible they’ll make more. One need is relief pitching, as Ross noted in this Tribune article:
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Q in whatever role we put him in, but definitely the left-handed spot in the pen is somewhere we can upgrade,” Ross said.
Ross is referring to Jose Quintana, of course, but Q might have to take over Tyler Chatwood’s spot in the rotation. Chatwood left Sunday’s game with elbow discomfort.
The linked article also mentions another acquisition the Cubs made Sunday:
The Cubs also signed right-handed reliever A.J. Ramos to a minor-league contract and assigned him to the alternate site in South Bend, Ind. Ramos, 33, has a 3.07 ERA and 99 career saves in 374 games with the Miami Marlins and New York Mets but hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2018 because of a shoulder injury.
It’s more than “hasn’t pitched in the majors” — AJ Ramos hasn’t pitched at all since 2018, and also isn’t lefthanded. It seems to me that if the Cubs want to upgrade their lefthanded relief, they’ll either have to bring in guys who are already at South Bend, or make a trade for someone else.
Feel free to use this post for comments not only on the Martinez deal, but for general comments on Monday’s trade deadline.