What new acquisition Zach McKinstry brings to Cubs
The Cubs have made a conscious effort of acquiring a mix of young, controllable players — and they continued that trend Saturday when they traded for utility man extraordinaire Zach McKinstry from the Dodgers for reliever Chris Martin.
In McKinstry, the Cubs acquired a 27-year-old player who has seen playing time at 5 different positions at the big-league level and doesn’t hit the free agent market until after the 2027 season. They’re also hoping a change of scenery and extended playing time will help him flourish. Manager David Ross said Saturday the Cubs hope to have McKinstry with the big-league team in the coming days.
“Looking at his numbers and how he’s been used in the past, I think high baseball IQ from everything I’ve heard,” Ross told reporters Saturday in San Francisco. “Versatile and we’ll see, give him a chance to come here and get some at-bats and we’ll see how it plays out.”
McKinstry started opening some eyes in 2018. The 33rd-round pick posted an .861 OPS across three levels in the Dodgers system. He continued that success in 2019, hitting .300 across both Double-A and Triple-A and posting an .882 OPS. That success led to a big-league debut in the 2020 pandemic-shortened season where he was 2-for-7 in four games.
In Los Angeles, he was primarily a platoon player and never had too much of an extended look on a loaded roster, something that might not be the case in Chicago. His versatility and another, much-needed left-handed bat means he could have plenty of looks across the diamond for the Cubs. Currently, the Cubs only have Alfonso Rivas, Ian Happ and Rafael Ortega as left-handed batting options.
“I mean we’re short left handers, especially off the bench,” Ross said. “There’s some match-ups where we haven’t been able to maximize the splits of the opposing pitchers. That’ll give us another multi-faceted player that has got a skillset in a lot of different spots.”
This season in Triple-A, McKinstry has slashed .335/.417/.487 in 223 plate appearances for the Oklahoma City Dodgers. The Cubs hope with more of a runway in Chicago, he can show that type of performance at the big-league level.