Chicago Cubs’ Chris Martin joins LA Dodgers

Chicago Cubs’ Chris Martin joins LA Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — The Chicago Cubs roster overhaul is underway again.

They made their first trade deadline move on Saturday and began their sell-off by sending right-hander Chris Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In exchange, they acquired 27-year-old infielder/outfielder Zach McKinstry.

Manager David Ross expects left-hander McKinstry to join the Cubs in the coming days. It will require a 26-man move to open a positional player court, although a trade in the meantime, especially if it’s an outfielder, could solve the problem.

Ross received a scouting report on McKinstry from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during a call Saturday morning. McKinstry can play the corner in outfield and infield.

“It’s another flexible play,” Ross said before the Cubs took on the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on Saturday. “There are some matchups where we couldn’t maximize the opposing pitcher’s splits. So this gives us another versatile player who has abilities in many different places.

“Give him a chance to come over here and get some punches and we’ll see how it goes.”

The Cubs recalled right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. to replace Martin. Right-hander Michael Rucker also joined the team in San Francisco in the cab squad.

Trading Martin begins a busy period for the Cubs leading up to the 5pm deadline on Tuesday. Ross didn’t feel nervous on Saturday when the Cubs’ trading activities officially began.

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“When things get tight and I have to take someone out – you know how it all goes – but I really focus on the day-to-day mindset and try to compete, win ball games. There’s enough to worry about and my coaching staff is trying to get better every day, so I’m trying to focus on that.

“It’s rare that I get out of any thoughts about winning the ballgame. I think the only time I think about it is to look at the phone before or after a game.”

When he won a World Series title in Atlanta last season, Martin brought the experience and success the Cubs wanted in the bullpen.

Martin was an important part of a support group with a mix of younger guns and veterans. Martin has been a dependable backup for the past five seasons and has established himself as a late-inning option for Ross. The Cubs’ bullpen was expected to be tested again by the close after trading three of last season’s top leveraged weapons.

McKinstry has played mostly at Triple A this season, where he hit .335/.417/.487 with a .904 OPS over 223 plate appearances in 48 games. McKinstry appeared in just 10 games with the Dodgers in 2022, going 1-on-11 with three walks and four strikeouts.

Martin, 36, had a 4.31 ERA and 98 ERA+ in 34 appearances. He had been tussling for the past three weeks, allowing five carries and 10 hits in five innings over five appearances, until he was reinforced to keep the game close in Thursday’s loss to the Giants.

“We had a really good bullpen and he was a big part of that,” Ross said. “Happy he can move on and pursue another championship. His time here was good.”

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