Cubs Trading Reliever Chris Martin to the Dodgers for Utility Man Zach McKinstry (UPDATES)

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Cubs Trading Reliever Chris Martin to the Dodgers for Utility Man Zach McKinstry (UPDATES)

Chicago Cubs

There it is. The first trade for the Cubs, with reliever Chris Martin headed out to the Dodgers.

Buster Olney with the scoop (and see the trade return update below):

Martin, an experienced reliever with a lot of success on playoff teams in recent years, was pretty much a lock to be traded. I figured the Cubs would want to move at least one of their relievers this weekend, so there you go. This doesn’t necessarily mean the floodgates are now opened, but obviously the deadline is now just a few days away.

I wouldn’t expect a substantial return for Martin, though, like I said, he’s been a good reliever very recently, and has a great 3.02 FIP this year. Heck, the guy has a 30.1% K rate against a scant 3.0% BB rate. I figure the Cubs are getting something interesting, at least.

More soon.

UPDATE: Well well well, the Cubs are going for a big league return in the trade? That’s an odd one:

McKinstry, a 27-year-old lefty bat, is one of those Dodgers guys who comes up periodically, isn’t terrible, but who can never really get himself playing time. At Triple-A, he always hits. And he’s not that old yet, so clearly this is a guy the Cubs are targeting to try to unlock a bit.

Defensively, he can play pretty much anywhere. So that’s where a lot of his theoretical value comes from.

The Cubs, though, have a lot of depth on the positional side at the Triple-A/MLB levels, so I’ve gotta believe this is either a move that anticipates something else happening, or is just a case of the Cubs really likely McKinstry, and this was their chance to get him.

This is really interesting, and unexpected. It’s gonna take me a moment to think this return through. In any case, for a rental reliever like Martin, I like this return a lot. You aren’t going to get a sure-fire blue chip prospect anyway, so how about a guy who might be useful to you at the big league level the next few years?

UPDATE 2: More thoughts.

Here are McKinstry’s top-level numbers, via FanGraphs. As you can see, he has hit very well at Triple-A, and he has projected as a roughly league-average hitter in the big leagues if the sample ever gets large enough:

If McKinstry can really be that – a league average bat, particularly against righties, while giving you the ability to play all over the field – he’s just a really nice player to have on your roster. I expect the Cubs hope there’s another level there, but, still. You don’t really see these kinds of returns in rental reliever trades at the deadline, so I’m just kinda still sorting it out in my head. I guess I should keep in mind, too, that not every upside play is a teenage prospect.

Overall I like it mostly because I want the Cubs to be setting themselves up to be minimally competitive in 2023. A good bench will help, and the Cubs are giving themselves some depth/competition here without having to allocate $5 million to it in free agency.

UPDATE 3: A couple other stray McKinstry thoughts prompted by questions on Twitter. One, I think the Cubs were probably already happy to listen on Patrick Wisdom offers, but this probably makes them even more flexible on moving him if the right offer comes along. Similarly, it probably makes the Cubs more willing to move on from David Bote if he doesn’t really bounce back. Rafael Ortega probably goes in this bucket, too.

Also, although this adds another guy to the 40-man roster that you would have to carry throughout the offseason, again, he might be replacing the spot of a Bote or Wisdom or Ortega when all is said and done; and also, now you don’t have to sign a similar player in free agency, who also would’ve required a 40-man spot anyway.

McKinstry is out of options after this season, which I’m sure was a big part of why the Dodgers were willing to move on. Also, well, they just keep producing guys like this. I’m sure they’re ready with the next McKinstry behind him.

UPDATE 4: It’s official. Martin for McKinstry, one for one.

Good luck to Chris Martin with the Dodgers, and thanks for being valuable enough to net the Cubs an interesting player.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.