The Chicago Cubs addressed a need Sunday in acquiring designated hitter Jose Martinez from the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later or cash consideration.
To make room for Martínez on the 40-man roster, catcher Josh Phegley was designated for assignment.
Martinez is expected to help an offense that is batting .208 with a .333 slugging percentage against left-handers with Kris Bryant and Steven Souza Jr. currently on the 10-day injured list.
Martinez, the son of former White Sox outfielder Carlos Martinez, is a career .319 hitter with a .946 OPS against left-handers. The 32-year-old is batting .239 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 67 at-bats for the Rays this season.
He is a career .294 hitter with 43 home runs and 182 RBIs in 422 major league games in the last five seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (2016-19) and Rays, possessing a .361 on-base percentage and a .455 slugging percentage.
Bryant, who is recovering from a left ring finger injury, and Souza, who has been sidelined with a right hamstring strain, were scheduled to hit off a batting practice machine Sunday before reporting to the South Bend, Ind., alternate site to face live pitching on Monday.
Bryant and Souza are eligible to be activated from the IL, but the Cubs haven’t set a date for their return.
The Cubs continue to look for left-handed help in their bullpen to assist Kyle Ryan. Left-hander Jose Quintana will work out of the bullpen Sunday against the Reds, but he has been a starter for nearly his entire career.
Also Sunday, the Cubs signed right-handed reliever A.J. Ramos to a minor-league contract and assigned him to South Bend. Ramos, 33, was granted his release from the Dodgers’ alternate site last week.
Ramos, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2018 when he was with the Mets because of a right shoulder injury, has a 3.07 ERA with 99 saves in 374 games with the Marlins and Mets. He could be promoted to the Cubs if he shows he’s healthy and effective.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Q in whatever role we put him in, but definitely I think the left-handed spot in the pen is some where we can upgrade on top of Kyle,” manager David Ross said Sunday morning. “Maybe having another left-handed arm seems it might be important down the road. But Q also brings a ton of value starting.”
Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks will pitch the first two games of the series vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates starting Tuesday. The Cubs won’t announce a starter for Thursday’s game until after Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
Ross stressed President Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are working tirelessly to improve the roster.
The Cubs’ 60-man roster stands at 58. Martinez has yet to report to the Cubs.
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