Rafael Martin Rumors

Quick Hits: Cubs, Dodgers, Martin, Rays

The Cubs‘ pitching staff is having trouble this month, and it’s unclear where help will come from, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes. It isn’t the best time of the year to make trades. While the Phillies likely don’t feel they have to wait until the trade deadline to make a Cole Hamels deal, such a trade might be easier for the Cubs to strike after some time to make sure they’re contenders. And finding relief help in the trade market will likely be more straightfoward later in the summer. Rafael Soriano is available via free agency, but the Cubs aren’t likely to sign him unless they’re more impressed with him than other teams have been. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Closer Kenley Jansen‘s impending return from a foot injury will result in a tough decision for the Dodgers, whose bullpen has been terrific in his absence, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group writes. The Dodgers reliever who’s gotten the worst results has been Chris Hatcher, so he might seem like the most obvious candidate to come off the active roster, although he’s out of options and was only recently acquired via trade. (Also, his 13.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and mid-90s velocity strongly suggest the Dodgers would be unwise to give up on him too quickly).
  • 30-year-old Nationals rookie reliever Rafael Martin has a highly unusual background, Lacy Lusk writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). The Southern California native spent four years after high school working in construction, then ended up in the Mexican League as the result of a tryout. After three years in Mexico, he signed with the Nationals in 2010, then toiled in the high minors, struggling with injuries before pitching brilliantly at Double-A and Triple-A last year. The Nats finally purchased his contract last month, and he whiffed five straight batters in his first big-league appearance.
  • The Rays have a winning record so far this season despite their rotation being decimated by injuries, Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida writes. It’s helped that they’ve gotten remarkable performances from Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, who have stayed healthy the entire season. Nate Karns has also gotten reasonable results in seven starts, and Alex Colome has pitched well in two. The team has also already leaned on Erasmo Ramirez, Steve Geltz, Matt Andriese and the now-injured Drew Smyly to start, meaning they’ve already used eight starters even though the season is less than six weeks old.

Mike Napoli Rumors: Monday

Free agent catcher Mike Napoli met with Boston executives over the weekend, though the Red Sox don't appear to have extended him a formal offer. Here are today’s Napoli-related rumors, with the most recent updates at the top:

  • Napoli and agent Brian Grieper are scheduled to meet with the Rangers this week, Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports. The meeting will likely take place on Wednesday.
  • The Mariners seek offense, experience and leadership and may be the best bet to offer Napoli the four-year deal he wants, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Mariners, who finished last in the American League in runs scored again, will almost certainly add other hitters, according to Rosenthal. 
  • Napoli appears to be the top target of the Red Sox, ahead of Nick Swisher, Adam LaRoche and others, Rosenthal writes.
  • While the Rangers want Napoli back, “they want him to return on their terms” in the words of one person. Rosenthal suggests this means the Rangers wouldn’t go beyond three years for the right-handed hitter.
  • The Yankees still figure to re-sign Russell Martin, another free agent backstop.

Market For Russell Martin Intensifying

The market for Russell Martin is intensifying, with three AL East teams showing varying levels of interest, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are all interested in the catcher, who may have other suitors. 

The Mets appeared to have interest, but the chances of Sandy Alderson signing Martin seem slim now that the GM has agreed to sign Ronny Paulino. The Dodgers could re-enter the sweepstakes at some point.

ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported this week that Martin, a Montreal native, would like to sign with an East Coast team (Twitter link).

Odds & Ends: Thames, Manzella, Royals, Marlins

Links for Friday…

Nationals Sign Rafael Martin

Washington has purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Rafael Martin from his Mexican League team, Saltillo.  ESPN's Jorge Arangure was the first to break the news (via Twitter), and said the Nationals "agreed to terms" with Martin for a deal worth $450K a "couple weeks ago."  MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweeted that Martin just passed his physical today, which may have been the reason for the delay in announcing the move.

Martin, 26, posted a 4.12 ERA in 63 1/3 innings for Saltillo last season and recorded 65 strikeouts.  Ladson reported that Martin will start the season in Double or Triple-A, and that the Nats see the reliever as a possible set-up man behind Drew Storen.  Ladson also said the Mariners and Yankees had been interested in acquiring Martin.