Well, then, that certainly didn’t take long.
Having traded Darwin Barney to the Dodgers earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs have already identified their PTBNL, according to Bob Nightengale:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 30, 2014
Martinez, who just turned 20 in June, was an international signing for the Dodgers out of Venezuela who reached the States when he was just 18. He’s currently pitching well in the Midwest League (3.47 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 91 Ks, 19 BBs, 106.1 IP), and is definitely a notable prospect (though not a “top” one). While he doesn’t show up in Baseball America’s preseason top 30 for the Dodgers, he’s pitching well in a league for which he’s more than age-appropriate – maybe even a touch young. He was reasonably high on some Dodgers lists before the 2013 season.
The one knock you’d levy is that Martinez reached Low-A last year for about a half-season, and hasn’t improved dramatically this year in his second go-around. Of course, the response to that is that he was basically an 18/19-year-old in full season ball at that time, which was quite a challenge. That he’s pitching well this year, at an appropriate age, in a second go-around, really isn’t a huge knock because he could have just as easily been pitching in short-season last year.
I’ll read up on some scouting reports, but my early take is that this is a really nice get for Barney, all things considered.
You’re probably wondering how the Cubs were able to get a legit prospect for Barney (together with $500,000 in savings). Well, for one thing, Barney arguably had value based on the elite glove. For another thing, Martinez might be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year.*
That makes him slightly less valuable, because his team is left with a tricky decision: roster a 20-year-old in Low-A, or risk losing him to an aggressive team in December. See the UPDATE. He’s not. Whew.
I say might be, because I can’t yet find confirmation on when he signed with the Dodgers. Typically, an international signing like that would have come at age 16, and then his first playing time would come the next year (for Martinez, that was in 2011). If, however, he first signed in 2011 and played immediately, he wouldn’t be Rule 5 eligible until next year. I’ll clear this up as soon as I can.
UPDATE: And the clearing comes via crowd-sourcing. Thanks to J2 in the comments, it looks like Martinez did sign in 2011, not 2010. If so, he would not be Rule 5 eligible until next year, and all is well.
UPDATE 2: The Cubs and Dodgers have confirmed. Done deal.