Sources: Cards’ Martinez to Rays for touted arm
The St. Louis Cardinals are trading outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to the Tampa Bay Rays for left-handed prospect Matt Liberatore and low-level catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez, sources familiar with the deal told ESPN.
St. Louis also will send a competitive balance Round A (post-first round of the MLB draft) pick to Tampa Bay, which will send a Round B pick (post-second) back to the Cards to complete the deal, sources said.
The Cardinals and Rays had been in active conversations with multiple teams as Tampa Bay tried to add outfield help and St. Louis sought to divest itself of its surplus, according to sources with knowledge of the teams’ intentions.
Liberatore, 20, is a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball and is regarded by some as the second-best left-handed prospect in the minor leagues behind San Diego’s MacKenzie Gore.
Chosen with the 16th pick of the 2018 draft, Liberatore spent 2019 in the Rays’ low-A affiliate with Bowling Green of the Midwest League and posted a 3.10 ERA over 78⅓ innings. He struck out 76, walked 31 and allowed only two home runs.
With a farm system regarded as the best in baseball, Tampa Bay reached into its cache of prospects to supplement its major league team, which won the American League wild-card game and took the Houston Astros to a deciding fifth game in the division series.
The Rays had been targeting outfield help to complement left fielder Hunter Renfroe, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and right fielder Austin Meadows. They should get it with Martinez, a 31-year-old right-handed bat who hit .305 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs in 2018. His numbers dipped some this past season, as Martinez posted a .269-10-42 line while missing a chunk of time in August with a shoulder injury.
Martinez has a .296 batting average since his first full season in the majors in 2017, which is the eighth-best mark in the NL among the 83 players with at least 1,000 at bats, per ESPN Stats & Information.
The speedy Arozarena, meanwhile, was called up by St. Louis in August when Martinez went on the injured list. The Cuba-born 24-year-old was hitting .344 in the minors prior to his call-up, and then went 6-for-20 for the Cards during the regular season before making five postseason appearances (0-for-4).
The Cardinals also have discussed trading outfielder Dexter Fowler and still could move him in another deal, sources said, as top prospect Dylan Carlson is expected to play a significant role in St. Louis’ outfield this season.
Rodriguez, 19, was in the Gulf Coast League this past season, hitting .400 in limited action (25 at-bats).
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