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Cubs acquire José Martínez from Tampa Bay Rays, sign AJ Ramos

2 years agoAndy Martinez

Theo Epstein and the Cubs aren’t ones to sit on their hands when they believe there’s room for improvement. 

Midway through the 2020 season, the Cubs ranked last in Major League Baseball in batting average against left-handed pitchers.

So, Epstein and the Cubs went out and acquired right-handed designated hitter José Martínez from Tampa Bay to help bolster their fortunes against lefties. The Cubs sent a combination of  cash and player considerations for Martínez and designated catcher Josh Phegley for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

“He’s hit his entire career and we do have a DH spot that makes some sense,” David Ross said. “He’s a really good hitter. He has hit lefties, I think that’ll be a really big help for us, but I like his numbers against righties as well.” 

Martínez has a career .319/.392/.554 slash line against lefties in five big league seasons.

He has familiarity with the NL Central, having spent the first four years of his big-league career in St. Louis. Martínez has a lifetime .821 OPS against the NL Central.

“It’s huge to add a bat that’s been a part of our division and has some experience there,” Jason Heyward said. “Also, I feel like his approach, man, is a tough one to pitch to. Regardless of the result, I feel like he puts up a good at-bat.”

The Venezuelan has a career .296/.358/.465 slash line with runners in scoring position, something the Cubs have been struggling with as of late. The Cubs have been hitting .258 in 84 plate appearances with runners in scoring position in their last 10 games.

He hit over .300 in his first two big league seasons and hit .269 last season with the Cardinals. He was traded to the Rays with Randy Arozarena in January.

Martínez has a .717 OPS with 2 home runs and 10 RBI this season as he returns to the NL Central.

The Cubs also signed right-handed pitcher AJ Ramos to a Minor League deal. Ramos has not pitched since 2018 due to a shoulder injury. The 33-year-old reliever recorded 99 saves from 2015-17 for the Marlins and Mets. Ramos has a career 3.07 ERA in 374 MLB games.

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