Leonys Martin

While baseball world buzzes over Justin Verlander, Cubs add Leonys Martin in trade with Mariners

martin.jpg
USA TODAY

While baseball world buzzes over Justin Verlander, Cubs add Leonys Martin in trade with Mariners

While the baseball world buzzed over the blockbuster Justin Verlander deal that apparently fell apart and then came together for the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros, the Cubs made a minor trade with the Seattle Mariners before the Aug. 31 deadline, bringing extra outfielder Leonys Martin into their organization.

The Mariners included cash in the trade and will receive a player to be named later or cash for Martin, who got designated for assignment twice this season – and was no longer part of Seattle’s 40-man roster – but is now eligible to become part of a playoff roster for the Cubs.

It’s not immediately clear where Martin will report – or when or if the Cubs will eventually add him to their active roster – but he sure looks like a pinch-running specialist for September.

Martin has 114 career stolen bases and could fill the role Dave Roberts made famous with the 2004 Boston Red Sox – or at least represent the speed option Quintin Berry had been for the 2015 Cubs.   

Martin, a Cuban defector, spent his first five big-league seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he put up 30-plus stolen bases in 2013 and 2014 and developed a reputation as a solid defender, though that combination of skills hasn’t been enough to make up for a career .662 OPS.

Leading up to Thursday’s unusually dramatic waiver deadline (11 p.m. Chicago time), the Cubs didn’t see Verlander’s no-trade rights as an obstacle, framing their discussions around the price point where it would make sense to: absorb the $56 million remaining on the final two guaranteed years of his contract; drain a prospect pool that’s been tapped in multiple win-now deals; and take on the injury risk with a pitcher who will be 35 next season.            

An Astros team with the best record in the American League – and zero World Series titles in franchise history – looked at Verlander and asked the same question Cubs president Theo Epstein did last summer after acquiring Aroldis Chapman: If not now, when?

Cubs add Leonys Martin after failing to reel in Justin Verlander

leonys.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs add Leonys Martin after failing to reel in Justin Verlander

The Cubs didn't acquire star pitcher Justin Verlander, but they did make a move before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline. 

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer traded for the Mariners' Leonys Martin, a 29-year-old outfielder who has played in 34 MLB games this season. In exchange, the Cubs will send Seattle a player to be named later: 

Martin struggled in the bigs this season, but he has put up a solid .307/.348/.494 slash line in Triple-A Tacoma. He's produced a .248/.300/.361 line in his seven pro seasons. 

The Cuban outfielder's problems at the plate come on the heels of his most powerful season. In 2016, he hit a career high 15 homers and 47 RBI for Seattle. Given that, he does give the Cubs more depth in the outfield. 

As for Verlander, CSN's David Kaplan reported earlier Thursday that the Cy Young winner was willing to waive his no-trade clause to come to the North Side of Chicago: 

But between the Cubs' thin list of prospects and the Tigers' asking price, a deal couldn't be struck. The pitcher is instead heading to Houston to join the Astros in their quest for the A.L. pennant: