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Cubs acquire José Martínez in trade with Rays

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

Aug 23, 2020; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Jose Martinez (40) celebrates with first baseman Ji-Man Choi (26) during the fifth inning of a game against Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

CINCINNATI -- The Chicago Cubs acquired Jose Martinez in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, giving manager David Ross another option at designated hitter.

The 32-year-old Martinez is a .294 hitter with 43 homers and 182 RBIs in 422 major league games. He debuted with St. Louis in 2016 and spent four years with the Cardinals before he was traded to the Rays in January.

“It’s a nice boost to get an offensive piece that makes you deeper than you already are,” Ross said after Chicago’s 10-1 win at Cincinnati. “It’s nice to be able to mix-and-match some bench pieces as well. It’s always nice to get a good player at the trade deadline.”

It’s a rare deal between division leaders ahead of Monday’s trade deadline for the pandemic-shortened season. Tampa Bay is on top of the AL East, and Chicago is trying to hold on in the NL Central.

The Rays acquired two players to be named or cash considerations in the trade. The team also promoted outfielder Randy Arozarena from its alternate training site.

Martinez, who can play first base or the outfield, batted .239 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 24 games with Tampa Bay. He had his best season with St. Louis in 2018, hitting .305 with 17 homers and 83 RBIs in 152 games.

“He’s hit his entire career,” Ross said. “We have a DH spot that makes sense for him. He hits lefties, and that will be a big help for us, but he can hit righties as well. When you see him come to the plate, you know he’s a tough out. When you see him on TV, you know he’s going to get a big hit.”

The Cubs designated catcher Josh Phegley for assignment to make room for Martinez on their roster.