Cubs hope Martinez is the right brew vs. left-handers

  • The Cubs traded for outfielder-designated hitter Jose Martinez from Tampa Bay on Sunday.

    The Cubs traded for outfielder-designated hitter Jose Martinez from Tampa Bay on Sunday. Associated Press

Updated 8/30/2020 6:08 PM

Ian Happ already had respect for Jose Martinez, who was acquired by the Cubs in a trade with Tampa Bay on Sunday. But when the Cubs outfielder found out Martinez sponsors his own brand of coffee, Happ knew they're destined to be friends.

"I'm sure we'll be comparing notes," said Happ, who helped create Quarantine Coffee during the hiatus to help fund COVID-19 relief. "I have not tried his coffee yet. I first learned about it last year and I know it's a really cool project he has going.


"I've heard nothing but great things about him. He loves coffee, so I love him, pretty excited."

Martinez' late father Carlos, who played for the White Sox from 1988-90, was nicknamed "Cafe," the Spanish word for coffee, so his son became "El Cafecito." Martinez partnered with Primos Coffee Company to produce a Cafecito No. 38 brand.

Cubs fans will probably remember Martinez from the past four years when he played for St. Louis and hit .300 twice.

"He gave us nightmares for years," Happ said. "He was one of the guys in that lineup where you felt like every time he came up, you felt like he was going to put the ball in play, going to get a hit, going to do damage in a big spot."

Actually, Martinez hit .241 with 1 home run and 6 RBI against the Cubs. He has hit .319 against left-handed pitchers over his career. He'll likely be a regular with the Cubs against lefties and slot at DH.

"I haven't set a role," Cubs manager David Ross said. "I don't want to do that quite yet. I want to meet the kid and talk to him a little bit. He's hit his entire career and we do have a DH spot that makes some sense.

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"Especially when he was in St. Louis, you see him come to the plate and you feel like he's going to have a good at bat, he's going to make things happen, he's going to move the baseball. He always seems like a tough out."

In return, the Cubs will send a mix of players to be named later or cash to the Rays. The 6-foot-6 Martinez, 32, was hitting .239 with 2 home runs for Tampa, which owns the best record in the American League at 24-11. To clear a spot on the roster, catcher Josh Phegley was designated for assignment.

"It is a nice boost, especially an offensive piece that I feel like could really impact our lineup and make it even deeper than it already is when everybody's healthy," Ross said.


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