Dodgers and Cubs Make Mutually Helpful Swap of Martin, McKinstry


© Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports activities

On Saturday, the Dodgers acquired regular 36-year-old reliever Chris Martin from the Cubs in alternate for utilityman Zach McKinstry, who has spent a lot of the season at Triple-A Oklahoma Metropolis.

That is Martin’s seventh main league group (Purple Sox, Rockies, Yankees, Rangers, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers), however his journey has been much more winding and sophisticated than that. Martin was a draft-and-follow by the Rockies in 2005 however blew out his shoulder throughout his sophomore 12 months at McLennan Junior School in Texas and wanted labrum surgical procedure, so he went unsigned. He was once more handed over within the 2006 draft and spent elements of 4 years in Unbiased Ball earlier than signing with the Purple Sox. He was traded to the Rockies because the secondary piece in a deal for Jonathan Herrera (Franklin Morales was the headline prospect), after which was traded to the Yankees for money not lengthy after that. He threw 20 innings for the Yankees earlier than spending two seasons in Japan with Hokkaido. There, Martin learned a splitter from a then 21-year-old Shohei Ohtani earlier than returning to MLB with Texas. He was a Braves deadline acquisition in 2019, and was with Atlanta in ’20 and ’21 earlier than signing with the Cubs this previous winter.

Martin’s carrying instrument is his command, which is among the many greatest in all of baseball. He has the third-lowest walk rate amongst certified relievers since he debuted in 2014 at a paltry 3.5%. Along with having elite management, Martin has posted one of the best Ok/9 of his profession this season (11.49), almost double his price final season with Atlanta. The identical is true of his fastball’s swinging strike price (16%, up from 8%, although this quantity has fluctuated all through Martin’s profession), which appears to be as a result of his fastball areas have migrated north, particularly towards righties:

Chris Martin 2021 and ’22 Fastball Areas vs. RHH.

Martin’s cutter utilization has additionally elevated this 12 months, whereas his splitter utilization has dipped. His scouting report nonetheless reads extra like that of a kitchen sink starter than a robotically constant reliever: Martin can sink or minimize his fastball, he can manipulate numerous breaking ball shapes (he might have a definite curveball and slider once more for the primary time in a number of years), and he goes proper at everybody he faces. His fastball velocity has shown a slight upward trajectory every of the final two years however was down in his two outings after the All-Star break. As a lot as anybody can say they know what they’re getting from a deadline acquisition, the Dodgers know they’re getting a well-traveled center reliever with unusual expertise and elite consistency. He’ll doubtless be the Dodgers’ fourth or fifth bullpen banana down the stretch and within the postseason.

To get Martin, the Dodgers gave up utilityman Zach McKinstry, a powerful upper-level performer who can be a key multi-positional piece for many large league groups, however who has struggled to search out enjoying time with the loaded Dodgers, blocked by the mix of The Turners, Gavin Lux, and Max Muncy. McKinstry (who was a forty five FV prospect and projected as a brilliant utility kind) has spent elements of the final three minor league seasons at Triple-A Oklahoma Metropolis, the place he has slashed a mixed .323/.401/.550 whereas enjoying all around the subject. A few of that offensive output is inflated by the hitter-friendly nature of many Pacific Coast League ballparks, as McKinstry has below-average bat velocity and energy. He can ambush the occasional inner-third pitch and yank out a homer to his pull-side, however largely he strikes the barrel across the zone and makes softer, opposite-field contact that leads to doubles and triples when the baseball finds the hole. It’s a contact-driven, low-impact offensive profile.

Most of McKinstry’s impression will come from his defensive versatility. He’s fairly good at second base and within the outfield corners, however he may play a serviceable third base and even shortstop in a pinch. A lefty-hitting Swiss Military knife like McKinstry matches superbly with the spirited, righty-hitting Christopher Morel, as these two will allow the Cubs to play seamless in-game matchups all around the diamond.

The commerce looks like a great match for each groups. There’s no quick 40-man impression to both membership (each Martin and McKinstry are already on the 40), but it surely provides to Chicago’s little postseason crunch by including one other long-term 40-man piece, whereas it subtracts from Los Angeles’ since Martin might be a free agent after the season, becoming a member of the dozen or so gamers set to turn into a part of the Dodgers diaspora.

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