Cubs trade reliever Chris Martin to Dodgers for Utility Man Zach McKinstry (UPDATE)

Here it is. The first trade for the Cubs, with reliever Chris Martin, went to the Dodgers.

Buster Olney with the scoop (and see the Trade Return update below):

Martin, an experienced reliever with plenty of success on playoff teams in recent years, was pretty much a lock to trade. I thought the Cubs would like to move at least one of their relievers this weekend, so here goes. That doesn’t necessarily mean the floodgates are now open, but it’s obvious that the deadline is just days away.

I wouldn’t expect a substantial return for Martin, although as I said he’s been a good reliever very recently and has an excellent 3.02 FIP this year. Heck, the guy has a K rate of 30.1% against a BB rate of just 3.0%. I think the Cubs are getting something interesting, at least.

More soon.

UPDATE: Alright alright, will the Cubs make a big comeback to the league in trade? It’s weird:

McKinstry, a 27-year-old left-handed batter, is one of those Dodgers guys who comes back periodically, isn’t terrible, but never really gets any playing time. At Triple-A, he always hits . And he’s not that old yet, so he’s clearly a guy the Cubs are aiming to loosen up a bit.

Defensively, he can play just about anywhere. So that’s where a lot of its theoretical value comes from.

The Cubs, however, have a lot of depth on the positional side at the Triple-A/MLB levels, so I have to believe it’s either a move that anticipates something else going on, or just a case of the Cubs being really probable McKinstry, and it was their chance to have it.

It’s really interesting and unexpected. It’s going to take me a while to think about this comeback. In any case, for a rental reliever like Martin, I really like this return. You’re not going to get an infallible top-notch prospect anyway, so how about a guy who could be useful to you at the major league level in the next few years?

UPDATE 2: More thoughts.

Here are the top tier numbers from McKinstry, via FanGraphs. As you can see, he hit Triple-A really well, and he projected himself as a roughly average hitter in the big leagues if the sample size gets big enough:

If McKinstry really can be that – a league average bat, especially against right-handers, while still giving you the ability to play all the way – it’s just a really good player to have on your roster. I expect the Cubs to hope there is another level there, but still. You don’t really see that kind of returns in the rental succession trades at the deadline, so I’m still kind of sorting it out in my head. I guess I should also keep in mind that not all upside-down games are from a teenage perspective.

Overall, I like him mostly because I want the Cubs to prepare for some uncompetitive play in 2023. A good bench will help, and the Cubs give themselves some depth/competition here without having to allocate 5 million to him. dollars in free agency.

UPDATE 3: A few more errant thoughts from McKinstry prompted by questions on Twitter. First, I think the Cubs were probably already happy to listen to Patrick Wisdom’s offers, but that probably makes them even more flexible to move him if the right offer comes along. Likewise, it probably makes the Cubs more willing to leave David Bote if he doesn’t really bounce back. Rafael Ortega probably fits in that bucket too.

Also, while it adds another guy to the 40-man roster you’d have to carry throughout the offseason, again, he could replace the spot of a Bote or Wisdom or Ortega when all is said. and do; and also, now you don’t need to sign a similar player in free agency, who also would have needed a 40-man spot anyway.

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

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 make the Cubs an interesting player.

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