On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a sizable trade. The Rays acquired outfielders Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena as well as a draft pick in exchange for left-handed prospect Matthew Liberatore, and low-level catching prospect Edgardo Rodriguez, and a draft pick, the teams announced.
Martinez, 31, is the only veteran involved in the deal. He's an offense-only player who has appeared destined for the American League due to his well-below-average defense at various positions. Even so, he's posted a 119 OPS+ for his big-league career, and is under team control through the 2022 season. Martinez figures to split time between DH and first base for the Rays, serving as a right-handed caddy for Ji-Man Choi and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.
Arozarena, who turns 25 in February, made his big-league debut last season. He should factor into the Rays' outfield, perhaps in a platoon capacity with Austin Meadows. :
All Randy Arozarena has done is hit in the minors -- he hit .344/.431/.571 with 15 homers and 17 steals (on 29 attempts) between Double- and Triple-A this season -- to the extent that it earned him a big-league promotion and spot on the postseason roster. Arozarena has a well-rounded skill set and ranked in the 96th percentile in sprint speed during his cameo, suggesting he should latch on as at least a reserve outfielder as soon as the 2020 season.
Liberatore, 20, was the 16th pick in the 2018 draft. He didn't makedue to the depth of their system, but he has a good fastball-breaking ball combination and feel for throwing strikes and a changeup. He's a few years away from the majors, yet he could become a quality starter.
Liberatore entered draft season in contention to be the top prep arm off the board. He slipped on draft day, however, and the Rays took advantage by taking him in the middle of the first round, just ahead of the Cardinals' spot, amusingly enough. St. Louis chose Nolan Gorman. Liberatore spent last season in A-ball, where he appeared 15 times and tallied 78 innings. He posted a 3.10 ERA and he recorded 2.45 strikeouts per walk.
While this deal thins out some of the Cardinals' immediate outfield depth, it's a hard one to pass on from a value perspective. The Cardinals essentially netted a top-100 prospect type for multiple pieces who were not going to start for them this season and perhaps not even next.
The Cardinals likely aren't done on the outfield side of things, either. They could conceivably bring back free agent Marcell Ozuna, and have been willing to eat money to move Dexter Fowler's contract, per league sources.