Rays acquire Martinez from Cardinals for pitching prospect

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired first baseman-designated hitter Jose Martinez from St. Louis in a trade that sends left-hander Matthew Liberatore, one of the club’s top minor league pitching prospects, to the Cardinals.

In addition to addressing the need for a right-handed bat, the Rays receive outfielder Randy Arozarena and a Compensation Round A draft pick in a four-player deal announced Thursday night. The Cardinals also get minor league catcher Edgardo Rodriguez and a Compensation Round B draft pick.

The 31-year-old Martinez is a career .298 hitter over parts of four seasons with the Cardinals. He batted .269 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs in 128 games last season, when a right shoulder sprain sidelined him for three weeks in August. He hit .305 in 2018.

Martinez agreed last offseason to a $3.25 million, two-year deal and boosted this year's salary by $300,000 to $2.3 million after reaching escalators based on 2019 plate appearances.

Arozarena, 24, defected to the United States from Cuba in 2014 and made his major league debut last season, hitting .300 in 19 games over two stints with the Cardinals.

The Rays selected Liberatore with the 16th overall pick in the June 2018 draft. The 20-year-old went 6-2 with a 3.10 ERA over 15 starts with Class A Bowling Green last season. Rodriguez, 19, played 51 games for the Dominican Summer League Rays in 2018, but was limited to 10 games with the Gulf Coast League Rays last season.

The Rays later announced another multi-player deal, sending right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt to the Houston Astros in exchange for minor leaguers Cal Stevenson and Peyton Battenfield.

Stevenson is a 23-year-old outfielder who split time last season between the Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations. He was dealt to Houston, along with pitchers Joe Biagini and Aaron Sanchez, at last year’s July 31 trade deadline for outfielder Derek Fisher.

Battenfield, 22, was a ninth-round draft pick of the Astros in 2019. He pitched for Tri-City in the Class A New York-Penn League, going 2-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 14 appearances — five of them starts — and made the league’s midseason All-Star team.

Pruitt appeared in 67 games, mostly out of the bullpen, over three seasons with the Rays. He was 3-0 with a 4.40 ERA in 14 appearances, including two starts, last season.

Meanwhile, Rays reliever Chaz Roe agreed to a $2,185,200, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration. The right-hander was 1-3 with a 4.06 ERA in 71 appearances in 2019, when he made $1,275,000.


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