Jose Martinez (Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired a veteran minor league outfielder from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired a veteran minor league outfielder from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations to play at Triple-A Memphis.

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday that they have acquired outfielder Jose Martinez from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for cash considerations.  Martinez, who was playing for Omaha (AAA) this season, has been assigned to the Memphis (AAA) roster.  To make room for Martinez on the team’s 40-man Major League roster, the Cardinals transferred right-handed pitcher Mitch Harris (right elbow) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

Jose Alberto Martinez, 27, was batting .298 with three home runs and 18 RBI with a .356 on-base pct. in 37 games with Omaha this season.  The right-handed hitting native of La Guaira, Venezuela is the son of former Major League outfielder Carlos Martinez.

Martinez won the Pacific Coast League batting title last season (.384) while also posting a league-best .461 on-base pct.  His 2015 All-Star season also included a career-high 10 HR’s and 60 RBI. 

The 6-6, 210-pound Martinez has played 800 career games in the minors, batting .296 with 53 HR, 354 RBI and 63 stolen bases.   Martinez, who was originally signed as non-drafted minor league free-agent by the Chicago White Sox in February of 2006, also played in the Atlanta Braves organization before joining the Royals in 2015.

Brian Walton’s take

On one hand, this move was a bit of a surprise. On the other, it shouldn’t be.

Most of the clubs in the Cardinals system are struggling to score runs and Memphis is no exception. Almost two months into the season, the Redbirds are dead last in the Pacific Coast League in runs scored.

The outfield has been especially disappointing with 40-man roster player Anthony Garcia batting just .188 and first-year Triple-A player Charlie Tilson carrying a .229 average. Veteran Carlos Peguero has been on the disabled list for three weeks and this acquisition would seem to suggest he may not be returning soon.

Other outfielders currently with Memphis include Tommy Pham (.194), still trying to get back on track in 2016 after injury, and two players who like Tilson finished last season at Double-A Springfield in David Washington and Nick Martini. The latter two have been the most productive members of the Redbirds outfield crew to date. Washington has a .991 OPS to go with five home runs and 11 RBI in 17 games since his promotion while Martini is batting .293 with 16 RBI, tied for second-most on the team.

Not noted in the above release was the fact that the Royals had designated Martinez for assignment seven days ago, removing him from their 40-man roster. Rather than hope to claim him off waivers, the Cardinals apparently offered some cash to KC to close the deal.

Despite his 6-foot-6 size, Martinez is not considered a power hitter, and is said to provide average defense in the corner outfield positions.

At this point, Memphis has not announced which player will be moved to make room for Martinez on its 25-man active roster. With the Redbirds on the road, at Salt Lake City, it may take a day or two for that to be disclosed.

Oddly, this is the second Jose A. Martinez from Venezuela that St. Louis has acquired from Kansas City in the last six months. When the Cardinals dealt catcher Tony Cruz to the Royals on December 2, their take was a 19-year-old Venezuelan shortstop named Jose Martinez. The younger Martinez, Jose Alexander, is expected to open short-season ball for the Cardinals at State College next month.

Neither is to be confused with a former Cardinal farmhand also from Venezuela and also named Jose Martinez. Jose Gregorio Martinez played in the Cardinals system from 2005 through 2011, reaching Double-A Springfield. The second baseman is now competing in the Mexican League.

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