SAN FRANCISCO — The Chicago Cubs’ roster renewal is underway again.
They made their first move at the trade deadline on Saturday, starting their sell-off by sending right-handed reliever Chris Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In exchange, they acquired 27-year-old infielder and outfielder Zach McKinstry.
Manager David Ross expects left-handed hitter McKinstry to join the Cubs in the next few days. He’ll require a 26-man move to open up a position player job, though an interim trade, especially one involving an outfielder, could solve that.
Ross received a scouting report on McKinstry from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during a conversation Saturday morning. McKinstry can play in the outside and inside corner spaces.
“He’s another flex piece,” Ross said before the Cubs faced the San Francisco Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park. “There are some matchups where we haven’t been able to maximize the opposing pitcher’s splits. That will give us another multifaceted player who has a skill set in many different places.
“Give him a chance to come here and get some at-bats, and we’ll see how he develops.”
The Cubs called up right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. to replace Martin. Right-handed pitcher Michael Rucker also joined the team in San Francisco on the taxi crew.
The Martin trade kicks off a busy streak for the Cubs before Tuesday’s 5:00 pm deadline Ross wasn’t feeling nervous Saturday when the Cubs’ business officially began.
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“If something comes up and I have to take somebody out, you guys know how that all plays out, but I’m really focused on the day-to-day mentality and trying to compete, win ball games. I have enough to worry about and my coaching staff tries to improve every day so I try to focus on that.
“It’s rare that I get out of any kind of thoughts of winning the ballgame. I think the only time I have in mind is to check the phone before or after a game.
Coming off a World Series title in Atlanta last season, Martin brought the experience and success the Cubs wanted out of the bullpen.
Martin was an important part of a relay group that featured a mix of younger and veteran guns. A dependable reliever the past five seasons, Martin cemented himself as a late-entry option for Ross. The Cubs’ bullpen was expected to be tested again before the trade deadline after three of last season’s most influential arms were traded.
McKinstry has predominantly played Triple-A this season, where he hit .335/.417/.487 with a .904 OPS in 223 plate appearances in 48 games. McKinstry appeared in just 10 games with the Dodgers in 2022, going 1-for-11 with three walks and four strikeouts.
The 36-year-old Martin had a 4.31 ERA and a 98+ ERA in 34 appearances. He had been struggling the last three weeks, allowing five runs on 10 hits in five innings in five appearances, until he stepped up in Thursday’s loss to the Giants to keep the game close.
“We’ve had a really good bullpen, and he’s been a big part of that,” Ross said. “Happy that he can carry on and keep chasing another championship. His time here was good”.