The Chicago Cubs completed a deal just before last night’s waiver trade deadline, announcing that they have acquired veteran outfielder Leonys Martin from the Seattle Mariners and cash in exchange for a player to be named later or future cash considerations. Since he was added before the midnight deadline, he is eligible to be included on the team’s postseason roster.
Martin had struggled for the Mariners so far this season, owning just a .174/.221/.287 slash line in 34 games with the major league club. The performance from the 29 year old veteran was so poor that Seattle has designated him for assignment twice this year, and ended up sending him to the minors both times. His poor play at the big league level did not translate with Triple-A Tacoma, as he recorded a much better .306/.346/.492 slash line with 11 home runs and 25 stolen bases.
During his 7 year career Martin has never been a consistently good hitter, hitting over .270 in a season just once. But he has been a consistent threat on the base paths with 114 career stolen bases, averaging out to 30 swipes per 162 games. Having speed like that on any roster is valuable, especially on this Cubs roster that doesn’t take too many chances with their baserunners. The Cubs rank 25th in all of baseball in stolen base attempts per game (0.38), and also rank 25th in team stolen bases (50). Not to say that Martin would break that trend, but using him as a pinch runner late in games gives manager Joe Maddon more weapons to work with.
This is a good addition for the Cubs in terms of organizational depth in the outfield, similar to the addition of Quintin Berry during the team’s late season run in 2015. Berry only got into eight games with the Cubs that regular season, and seven of those games were as a pinch runner in the 8th inning or later. Given Martin’s skill set, he would definitely fit into that role should Maddon choose to use him that way. First baseman Anthony Rizzo and infielder Javier Baez share the team lead for stolen bases heading into Friday’s game against the Braves with 8 swipes apiece, but it is very possible that Martin could challenge them for the team’s stolen base crown if he is used the same way that Berry was.
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