New OF Leonys Martin gives Cubs speed, strong arm off bench
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Leonys Martin had an up-and-down tenure in two seasons with Seattle. He acknowledged as much in a farewell post to fans on his Instagram page.
“Mariners fans it was a pleasure to play in front of you,” Martin wrote. “You made me feel welcomed when I arrived and I am grateful for your support thru the ups and downs.”
Martin went from Seattle’s everyday center fielder in 2016 to being demoted twice this season. He was playing for Class AAA Tacoma on Thursday when he was pulled out of the game and informed of his trade to the Cubs.
“I was in the middle of a game and they took me out,” Martin said, ‘‘so I knew something happened. I’m happy to be on board and happy to be here.”
The Cubs will send cash or a player to be named later to the Mariners in exchange for the 29-year-old Cuban. The Cubs designated Jack Leathersich for assignment to make room.
Since Martin was added to the 40-man roster Thursday he is eligible to play in the postseason.
Martin posted a .174/.221/.287 slash line in 34 games with the Mariners this season. He played just 15 games in April before his first demotion, then came back in July after a strong run at Tacoma. He was sent back down in August.
For the Cubs, Martin brings speed and a good arm to the outfield, two things manager Joe Maddon wanted off the bench.
“There’s some solid ability there and a lot of energy, which I kind of like,” Maddon said. “I think he fits in perfectly.”
Martin said he has spoken with coaches and has been told to “be ready for everything.”
The trade to the Cubs brought Martin to his third team in as many years.
The Rangers originally signed Martin with a $5 million signing bonus in 2011.
He was among the top prospects in the Rangers organization after defecting from Cuba during the 2010 World Baseball Championship in Taiwan.
Now Martin has a chance to play a role, even if only a small one, in the final month of the season.
“This is an awesome organization,” Martin said. “Playing in front of the best fans in the league. It’s a pleasure to be here in a Cubs uniform.”
Martin is familiar with some of his new teammates. He played with Mike Montgomery in Seattle and came up with Pedro Strop in the Rangers organization.
He’s also eager to get to know Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.
“Difficult to hit,” he said of the veteran pitchers. “I’m happy to be in the same room as them.”
Follow me on Twitter at @davidjustCST.