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Indians acquire OF Martin from Detroit

By PAUL HOYNES • Jul 31, 2018 at 6:25 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — The Indians have acquired center fielder Leonys Martin from the Detroit Tigers. They've been trying to fill a need in center field and Martin will help them do that.

The Tribe also acquired right-hander Klye Dowdy and sent shortstop Willi Castro to the Tigers. Castro was in big league camp with the Indians this spring.

Martin, 30, is a veteran left-handed hitter who has played well for the Tigers this season. People who have watched him on a daily basis said he's been Detroit's spark plug.

He's hitting .251 (76-for-303) with nine homers and 29 RBI. Martin has 20 doubles, three triples and has scored 45 runs. The Cuban native played with Texas, Seattle and the Cubs before signing with the Tigers as a free agent in December.

By acquiring Martin, the Indians will attempt to fill a seemingly bottomless hole in center field. So far this year, they've lost center fielders Bradly Zimmer and Tyler Naquin to injuries.

It will also give manager Terry Francona a chance to platoon in center field with veteran Rajai Davis or rookie Greg Allen. Martin is hitting .275 (63-for-229) with seven homers and 20 RBI against right-handers.

The Indians have seen plenty of Martin this year and he made an impression. He hit .300 (15-for-50) with two homers and three RBI against the Tribe. He also stole four bases and scored seven runs in 13 games.

Martin, who spent time on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury this year, has a good arm. He leads the AL with nine outfield assists and his 228 outfield putouts are second in the league. He has 59 outfield assists since the start of the 2013 season, second most in the big leagues.

During his stay with the Rangers, Martin was a stolen base threat. This year he has just seven steals in 10 attempts. But his hamstring injury probably has something to do with that.

Martin is making $1.75 million this year and is not eligible for free agency until 2020. He's definitely an option for next year as well. The Indians are going to need outfielders because Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Davis and Melky Cabrera can all be free agents at the end of the season.

Dowdy, 25, has gone 8-8 with a 4.74 ERA between Class AA Erie and Class AAA Toledo this year. He was Detroit's 12th round pick in 2015.

Castro, a switch-hitter, was hitting .245 (91-for-371) with 20 doubles, five homers and 39 RBI at Class AA Akron. He scored 55 runs and stole 13 bases in 17 attempts.

He had a big year last season at Class A Lynchburg, hitting .290 with 11 homers and 56 RBI.

Indians also trade for Triple-A OF Mercado from St. Louis

The Indians, with an eye toward rebuilding their outfield, have acquired outfielder Oscar Mercado from St. Louis and sent him to Class AAA Columbus. Johnny Field was designated for assignment to make room for him on the 40-man roster.

The Tribe sent outfield prospects Conner Capel and Jhon Torres to St. Louis for the Mercado.

"Oscar is a right-handed hitting outfielder who was on the (St. Louis) roster and currently at Triple-A," Chris Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations, said. "He's a very athletic player who transitioned from shortstop to center field a couple of years ago and has really made that transition well.

"We think he's an above average defender with above average speed that adds a very good option for us in the near term as a major league option."

Mercado, 23, was hitting .285 with eight homers and 42 RBI at Class AAA Memphis. He scored 73 runs and stole 31 bases in 39 attempts, while posting a .759 OPS.

The Cardinals drafted Mercado in the second round in 2013.

Capel, 21, was the Tribe's fifth round pick in 2016. He's hitting .261 with six homers and 44 RBI at Class A Lynchburg.

Torres, 18, was hitting .273 with four homers and 16 RBI for the Tribe's Arizona Rookie League team. Torres, a native of Colombia, is 6-foot-4 and 188 pounds.

The Indians are going to need to rebuild their outfield after this season because Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Melky Cabrera and Rajai Davis are free agents. It's also unknown if and when outfielders Bradley Zimmer (right shoulder) and Tyler Naquin (right hip) will be able to play. Zimmer needed surgery on his right shoulder and Naquin is going to New York on Thursday to get his hip examined by a specialist.

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