The Cubs made their first move ahead of the trade deadline Monday, bolstering their bench by acquiring designated hitter/first baseman Jose Martinez from the Rays on Sunday for a player to be named and cash considerations.
Martinez is hitting .239 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 24 games. The former Cardinal should provide a boost against left-handed pitching.
He hasn’t shown his usual prowess against lefties this season, but he has a career .319/.392/.554 slash line against southpaws.
“He’s hit his entire career, and we do have a DH spot that makes some sense,” manager David Ross said. “He’s a really good hitter. He has hit lefties. I think he’ll be a big help for us. But I like his numbers against righties, as well.”
Martinez likely will get a lot of looks as the Cubs’ designated hitter. The team hasn’t had much production from its DHs. Backup catcher Victor Caratini has had the most at-bats in that role.
The Cubs’ DHs have a .159/.280/.271 slash line with two home runs.
“He gave us nightmares for years [in St. Louis],” said outfielder Ian Happ, who homered twice in the Cubs’ 10-1 victory Sunday. “He was one of the guys in that lineup that every time he came up, you felt like he was going to put the ball in play and get a hit. Gonna do damage in a big spot. So definitely excited about the acquisition. He’s gonna help bolster us against left-handers, too, which is nice.”
The trade underscores the importance of short- and long-term value in a unique 2020 season. Martinez fills holes for the Cubs in the interim, but he also provides some stability beyond 2020. He isn’t eligible for free agency until 2023.
Catcher Josh Phegley was designated for assignment to make room for Martinez on the 40-man roster.
“It’s awesome to add people, man, to add depth,” said outfielder Jason Heyward, who also homered twice. “This is a strange season. It’s tough. It’s tough to stay healthy. Just the nature of the beast right now.
‘‘But to add Jose, I think it’s huge as a right-handed bat. It’s huge to add a bat that has been a part of our division and has some experience there.
“I feel like his approach is a tough one. Regardless of the result, I feel like he puts up a good at-bat. He’s comfortable going to the middle of the field, to right-center. [He] has pop there, and it’s just another guy that we can move around on our baseball team.”