The Chicago Cubs’ roster makeover is again underway.
They made their first trade-deadline move Saturday, beginning their sell-off by sending right-handed reliever Chris Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return, they acquired 27-year-old infielder/outfielder Zach McKinstry.
Manager David Ross expects the lefty-hitting McKinstry to join the Cubs in the coming days. It will require a 26-man move to open a position-player spot, though a trade in the interim, especially if it involves an outfielder, could resolve that.
Ross received a scouting report on McKinstry from Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during a conversation Saturday morning. McKinstry can play the corner outfield spots and infield.
“It’s another flexible piece,” Ross said before the Cubs faced the San Francisco Giants on Saturday at Oracle Park. “There’s some matchups where we haven’t been able to maximize the splits of the opposing pitcher. So that’ll give us another multifaceted player that’s got a skill set at a lot of different spots.
“Give him a chance to come here and get some at-bats, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
The Cubs recalled right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. to replace Martin. Right-hander Michael Rucker also joined the team in San Francisco on the taxi squad.
Trading Martin kicks off a busy stretch for the Cubs leading up to Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline. Ross wasn’t feeling on edge Saturday as the Cubs’ trade activity officially got underway.
“If something gets close and I’ve got to take somebody out — you guys know how that all plays out — but really I’m focused on the mindset of the day-to-day and trying to compete, win ballgames. There’s enough for me to worry about and my coaching staff on a daily basis we’re trying to get better, so I try to stay focused on that.
“It’s rare that I get outside of any kind of the winning-the-ballgame thoughts. I think the only time that’s in my mind is checking the phone before or after a game.”
Coming off 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 relief group featuring a mix of younger arms and veterans. A reliable reliever the last five seasons, Martin solidified himself as a late-inning option for Ross. The Cubs bullpen was expected to again be tested by the trade deadline after three of last season’s top-leverage arms were traded.
McKinstry predominately has played 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 only 10 games with the Dodgers in 2022, going 1-for-11 with three walks and four strikeouts.
Martin, 36, had a 4.31 ERA and 98 ERA+ in 34 appearances. He had been scuffling the last three weeks, allowing five runs and 10 hits in five innings over five appearances, until he stepped up in Thursday’s loss to the Giants to keep the game close.
“We’ve had a really good bullpen, and he’s been a big part of that,” Ross said. “Happy that he gets to go on and continue to chase another championship. His time here was was good.”