Jeff Passan announced today that the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays have reportedly reached a deal that will send right-handed outfielder Jose Martinez, right-handed outfielder prospect Randy Arozarena, plus a compensation A pick to the Rays in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Matt Liberatore, right-handed catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez, and a compensation B pick.
Jose Martinez struggled to get playing time in a very competitive Cardinals outfield in 2019, but in his 373 PAs he slashed .269/.340/.410 with a .323 wOBA and a 101 wRC+. It was a down year for Martinez, his worst since debuting in 2016, but he could slot in nicely as a DH for the Rays, platooning with the left handed Ji-Man Choi while Yandy Diaz plays first base.
Randy Arozarena had an eventful 2019, moving between double-A, triple-A, and finishing with a cup of coffee in the majors. He was the Cardinals 10th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, and in his 283 PAs in triple-A, he slashed .358/.435/.593 with a .432 wOBA and a 151 wRC+. He spent most of his time in the minors playing center field, but with Kevin Kiermaier occupying that spot in the majors, it’s likely he moves to a corner spot and plays right field if he’s called up.
Matthew Liberatore was the 16th overall draft pick in 2018, and despite not pitching above single-A, he was the Rays 4th best prospect and the 41st best prospect in baseball according to MLB pipeline. In his 78.1 innings in A-ball, he had an ERA and FIP of 3.10 and 3.18 respectively, and struck out 22.9% of the batters he faced. It’s hard to judge a player when they haven’t reached double-A, but with 4 pitches all graded as above average, he very well could end up as an ace.
Edgardo Rodriguez is a 19 year old catcher who’s spent the last two years in the rookie league, and 2019 recovering from injury. He showed good plate recognition in his 216 PAs in 2018, only striking out 8.8% of the time. He also slashed .330/.384/.492 with a wOBA of .417 and a 147 wRC+. Defensively, he threw out 15 of 43 attempted steals for a caught stealing percentage of 39%. He’s a lanky 6’0” and 207 pounds as a 19 year old, so it remains to be seen if he sticks at catcher. If he does, and he keeps up his hitting, his ceiling is high.
With the competitive balance pick swap, the Rays will have an extra draft pick after the first round, while the Cardinals have a pick after the second round.
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