The Cubs have acquired DH/outfielder/first baseman José Martínez from the Rays for two players to be named later, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Sunday morning:
Designated hitter Jose Martinez has been traded to the Chicago Cubs, sources tell ESPN. Two PTBNLs headed back to Tampa Bay. The Cubs get a lefty masher and the Rays now may get to give more ABs to Randy Arozarena, whom they acquired with Martinez in a trade this offseason.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 30, 2020
Martínez, 32, has struggled to hold down a major-league starting spot over the years due to the fact that he’s far below average defensively and doesn’t hit for much power. But prior to this season, he’s been one of the most consistent contact hitters in baseball and has a .294/.361/.455 slash line over five seasons, and with the universal DH now in play, it was an easy call for the Cubs to pick him up.
Martínez slumped over 24 games with Tampa after being acquired from the Cardinals over the winter, hitting .239/.329/.388 with two homers, but if Chicago can get him going again, he could be a huge addition to their lineup. Since the Cubs have spent most of the season using backup catcher Victor Caratini (hitting .243/.329/.314 this season) in the DH slot, so Martínez figures to be in line for significant playing time in that role. He could be especially valuable against lefties, as he has a .319/.392/.554 career slash line versus southpaws.
The two players headed to Tampa will presumably come from outside of Chicago’s 60-man player pool. Players outside of the pool are not permitted to be traded this season, so many teams have been using the PTBNL workaround in order to deal prospects without fully completing the trades right now.
To replace Martínez on their roster, the Rays recalled outfielder Randy Arozarena, who was acquired from the Cardinals in the same deal that sent Martínez to Tampa over the winter.
The Cubs made room for Martínez on their roster by designating veteran catcher Josh Phegley for assignment. With the Cubs no longer likely to use a catcher as their DH for the majority of games, it became much less prudent for them to carry a third catcher in the event of an in-game injury.