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Once again, the Rays find smart way to improve 25-man roster

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The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired outfielder/first baseman Jose Martinez from the St Louis Cardinals along with a competitive balance Round A draft pick and Randy Arozarena.

The Cardinals received highly rated pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore in the deal along with catcher Edgardo Rodriguez and a competitive balance Round B draft pick. This was all first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Tampa Bay have been on the look out for an impact slugger all offseason. They have finally got their man in Martinez, who will likely play a bit of corner outfield (despite his defensive weaknesses) and DH. Arozarena is a 24-year-old outfielder who raked in the minors in 2019, posting an OPS north of 1.000 in AAA. The Rays swapped Tommy Pham for Hunter Renfroe earlier in the offseason, and were keen to add another outfielder alongside Renfroe, Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier.

Martinez has crushed the ball since making his debut in 2017. Per Devan Fink, Martinez ranks 90th in xwOBA on contact. He has a great eye, too. That’s a winning combination in modern baseball and one that could see him become a middle-of-the-order fixture for the Rays in 2020.

The Cardinals had an outfield surplus and Martinez is a liability in the field. Tyler O’Neill, Dexter Fowler and Harrison Bader are all locks for the Opening Day roster in 2020 and this move could open up a spot for Marcell Ozuna – who has found free agency to be slow going so far – to return. Liberatore slots in as their number three prospect on MLB Pipeline and comfortably the best pitcher in their farm.


Both teams dealt from a strength. Tampa Bay have prospects and controllable arms galore. The Cardinals have plenty of outfielders. It’s a deal that works for each franchise, but the overwhelming take away is the Rays once again improving their chances of succeeding in the short-term without significantly damaging the long-term.

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