Tampa Bay Rays acquire two right-handed bats via trade
By Seth Carter
The Tampa Bay Rays traded a top pitching prospect for two right-handed bats.
The Tampa Bay Rays have completed a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Rays give up: Matt Liberatore, Edgardo Rodriguez, Competitive Balance Pick – Round B (66th)
Cardinals give up: Jose Martinez, Randy Arozarena, Competitive Balance Pick – Round A (38th)
Liberatore is MLB.com’s 41st ranked overall prospect in baseball. He is a left-handed pitching prospect who is entering his age-20 season. He spent last season in Single-A Bowling Green, appearing in 15 games and pitching 78.1 innings with a 3.10 ERA. Liberatore has walked 3.6 batters per nine at every single stop in his professional career but has a huge upside and is considered the second-best left-handed pitching prospect in the baseball.
The Rays are getting a much needed right-handed power bat. Martinez’s season was marred by injuries in 2019, but for his career, the 31-year-old has an OPS+ of 119 and a .458 slugging percentage.
Martinez has a career on-base percentage of .363 with a .298 batting average. For his career, Martinez has destroyed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .331/.405/.570 slash line. Martinez figures to slot in as outfield depth, provide a right-handed presence at first base, and at DH.
Between 2017-18, Martinez hit .306/.369/.478 with 31 homers and 129 RBIs in 806 at-bats. Martinez will only earn $2 million in 2020 and is under team control through the 2022 season.
Randy Orozarena also came as a part of the package. It is expected that he will be with the Rays on Opening Day. 2020 will qualify as his rookie season.
Last year at AAA-Memphis, Arozarena slashed .358/.534/.593. He had a total of 15 homers and 17 steals across double and Triple-A. He can play any outfield position for the Rays and will immediately compete with Kevin Kiermaier as the fastest player on the roster.
Arozarena also provides a right-handed depth for the Rays’ 2020 outfield.
Here’s a current look at the Rays offensive options following the trade:
LF: Hunter Renfroe (RH)
CF: Kevin Kiermaier (LH)
RF: Austin Meadows (LH)
1B: Ji-Man Choi (LH)
2B: Brandon Lowe (LH)
SS: Willy Adames (RH)
3B: Yandy Diaz (RH)
C: Mike Zunino (RH)
Randy Arozarena (RH)
Michael Perez (LH)
Joey Wendle (LH)
Daniel Robertson (RH)
Mike Brosseau (RH)
Yoshi Tsutsugo (LH)
Jose Martinez (RH)
The Rays reached into their deep farm system and made addressed their need for right-handed hitting. The roster has a really nice mix of right and left-handed options as it stands.
The Rays might have lost a powerful on-base presence in Tommy Pham, but they have replaced him with two similarly profiled players in Martinez and Tsutsugo, and huge potential power upside in Hunter Renfroe. Arozarena is certainly a player to watch in 2020 as he has shown on-base skills, speed, and even some power from the right-handed side.
It has been an interesting off-season as the Rays have quietly and patiently continued to improve their roster in advance of 2020.