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Despite sitting in first place in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays have subtracted from their offense. The Rays have traded lefty masher Jose Martinez to the Chicago Cubs, the team announced Sunday. Tampa will receive two players to be named later in return. Neither team has announced the trade.
Martinez, 32, joined the Rays in an offseason trade with the Cardinals. He is a career .319/.392/.554 hitter against southpaws and he will provide a big boost to a Cubs team that lost Kris Bryant to a wrist injury and is hitting .208/.325/.333 against left-handed pitching this season. Martinez can remain under team control through 2022 as an arbitration-eligible player, so he’s not a rental.
The Cubs are in first place in the NL Central but have struggled of late, dropping three of their last four games and 11 of their last 17 games. FanGraphs puts their postseason chances at a healthy 94.0 percent. Until Bryant returns, Cubs skipper David Ross could use this lineup against left-handed pitchers:
As for the division-leading Rays, they have struggled against left-handed pitchers themselves this season, authoring a .239/.338/.443 batting line as a team against southpaws. The Martinez trade opens a roster spot for outfielder Randy Arozarena, who came over from St. Louis in the trade with Martinez, and it figures to equal more at-bats for Mike Brosseau and Manuel Margot.
Only players included in their team’s 60-man player pool can be traded this season, though teams can get around that with players to be named later. Tampa is all but certain to receive two-minor leaguers not included Chicago’s 60-man pool in the trade. Once the season ends and all players are eligible to be traded, those two players will be named.
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