Carlos Martinez Rumors
Cardinals closer Jason Motte will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on Monday, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louid Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Edward Mujica has filled in admirably as the team's closer in his absence, but the Cardinals will likely be the subject of many relief rumors as the trade deadline draws near. Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions...
- Earlier today, Goold tweeted a link to a story that he wrote nearly two years ago, chronicling the long, difficult process of signing top prospect Carlos Martinez. Martinez, who was promoted to the Majors this morning, had originally been signed by the Red Sox, but that deal fell through due to questions surrounding his documentation. Martinez, whose mother died before his first birthday, was going by the name given to him by his uncle who raised him -- Carlos Matias. The Cardinals tirelessly searched for school records and his mother's death certificate to prove his identity, at which point he adopted her last name once again.
- Cubs prospect Juan Carlos Paniagua is in a similar predicament to the one Martinez initially faced, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler. The U.S. Consulate is currently requesting school records and identification documents of Paniagua's siblings before issuing him a work visa.
- The Twins still have two weeks to make a decision on right-hander Tim Wood, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Wood is on a rehab assignment but appears healthy at this point. However, he only looks "so-so" according to Miller, and Minnesota's bullpen has been a strength early in the season. Because Wood is on the 40-man roster and out of options, he'd have to be exposed to waivers to be sent to Triple-A at the end of his rehab stint.
- We also learned earlier today that the minor trade which would have sent Mark Teahen from the D-backs to the Reds fell through due to an issue with Teahen's phsyical.
Martinez, 21, was a consensus Top 40 prospect among Baseball America (No. 38), MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (No. 33) and ESPN's Keith Law (No. 39). The Dominican native has totaled just 83 innings at Double-A and has a 2.82 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 17 starts. In total, he has 277 strikeouts in 259 2/3 minor league innings.
Baseball America, Law and Mayo all praise Martinez's fastball, which sits at 94-98 mph and can be dialed up to 100 when he needs it. Martinez's curveball draws more praise than his changeup, though BA notes that the changeup could develop into a third plus pitch for him. Mayo adds that it's a circle change with nice fade, and he doesn't feel it's that far behind Martinez's sharp 12-to-6 curveball.
Martinez is listed at 6'0" and 185 pounds. In addition to eliciting comparisons to Pedro Martinez (no pressure, Carlos), his size has led many to question whether or not he will be durable enough to handle a starter's workload. Martinez already missed a month with shoulder tendinitis last season but was able to bounce back. In his write-up, Law noted: "If the shoulder issue recurs, he may end up a shutdown reliever with two pitches near the top of the 20-80 scale." Upon learning of Martinez's promotion, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper wondered whether or not Martinez would ever start again, given the Cardinals' bounty of talented starters (Twitter link).
The Cardinals have kept Martinez in the minor leagues long enough to delay his free agency by a season, but his call-up falls well short of the June barrier that would prevent him from becoming a Super Two player. If he sticks on the roster from this point forward, Martinez will pick up 150 days of Major League service time and be under team control through the 2019 season.
The Cubs have signed Cuban prospects Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez, reports Baseball America's Ben Badler. Both players are represented by Jaime Torres.
Balaguert, 19 in January, is said to have "modest tools" and a "long, uppercut swing from the right side and an aggressive, pull-oriented approach that leaves him susceptible to secondary stuff." Although he's played center, it's likely that he'll be relegated to left field down the line. The Marlins had interest in signing him earlier this offseason.
Martinez, 20, is a right-handed pitcher who has worked mostly out of the bullpen according to Badler. He has a "fastball that parks in the low 90s" and an "average curveball but it often gets slurvy, while his changeup is also a work in progress with occasional fade."
After suffering a three-game sweep in Milwaukee, the Cardinals sit a half-game behind both the Brew Crew in the NL Central and the Braves in the NL wild card race. Some notes from the Gateway City...
- St. Louis has enough payroll space to make a move before the trade deadline, but maybe just enough for one move, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach as part of a reader mailbag. He doesn't think the Cards would be able to acquire the likes of Jose Reyes, since "they have some prospects to trade, but not a truckload....My read is that they would upgrade another position with that 'one bullet,' such as the bullpen, rather than acquiring a shortstop," Leach says.
- Star prospects Zack Cox, Carlos Martinez (former known as Carlos Matias) and Shelby Miller are "considered untouchable" by the Cards in any trade talks this summer, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says he's heard a few names within the organization who are somewhat unexpectedly available in the right deal.
- The Cardinals have announced the signings of 27 picks from the 2011 amateur draft (via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Twitter). Kansas State outfielder Nick Martini, a seventh-round selection, was the highest-drafted of the signed picks. Colby Rasmus' younger brother Casey, a 36th-round pick, also signed.
If there were any doubts about how much trade deadline acquisitions can affect the postseason, last night's Giants/Braves contest silenced them. A pair of former Royals, Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth, helped lead Atlanta to victory, while ex-Red Sox Ramon Ramirez gave up Ankiel's game-winning blast. As we prepare for another round of playoff baseball tonight, let's check out a few links....
- Casey Blake hit just .248/.320/.407 this season, but MLB.com's Sarah Morris thinks Ned Colletti has more pressing needs than finding a new third baseman.
- Meanwhile, Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times says that today's Matt Kemp-Nationals rumor won't be the last time the centerfielder's name comes up on the rumor circuit this winter.
- The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec expects the Orioles to buy out Mark Hendrickson's $1.2MM option for $200K. Hendrickson could return to the team at a lower price, according to Zrebiec.
- Carlos Matias (now known as Carlos Martinez) has received Visa approval and completed his $1.5MM deal with the Cardinals, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes (Twitter link). The Dominican right-hander agreed to terms with St. Louis in June, and has been outstanding in the Dominican Summer League (0.76 ERA, 11.9 K/9).
- The Red Sox have outrighted Rich Hill to the minors, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The lefty will become a free agent five days after the World Series.
- In his latest appearance on WEEI, Peter Gammons discussed Cliff Lee, Boston's bullpen, and how the purchase of Liverpool FC affects the Red Sox.
- As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, Billy Wagner's strained oblique will keep him out of the NLDS and, if the Braves advance, the NLCS. With the left-hander still planning to retire, Wagner may have made his final big league appearance last night.
The Cardinals have come to an agreement on a $1.5MM deal with 18-year-old Dominican righthander Carlos Matias, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Matias was one of the best pitchers available on the international market this year.
As Badler explains, Matias is under contract with the team, but he still has to clear some hurdles before receiving his money. MLB must first verify his age and identity, and the U.S. consulate must grant him a visa before the deal can be made official and the bonus paid.
Matias had previously reached an agreement with the Red Sox for $160K, but he was suspended for a year after failing an MLB investigation. The suspension may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, because the righty added velocity to his fastball during the layoff and now routinely sits at 97-99 mph, which has drastically improved his stock.
ESPN's Jorge Arangure reported in March that both the Yankees and Diamondbacks had interest in Matias.