The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired prospect pitcher Matthew Liberatore from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cardinals sent outfielder José Martínez, outfielder Randy Arozarena, and a first-round competitive draft pick back to the Rays. In addition to top-flight prospect Liberatore, the Rays are sending a low-value catching prospect and a second-round competitive balance draft pick to the Cardinals. Jeff Passan of ESPN was first to report the Cardinals were going to acquire Liberatore with the return still being speculative. Following a short period of speculation and mystery, Passan was able to report the full details of the trade as well.
Well-regarded pitching prospect Matt Liberatore has been traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the St. Louis Cardinals, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. It’s part of a trade expected to send major league pieces back to Tampa Bay, which has been searching for outfield bats.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 9, 2020
The St. Louis Cardinals are trading OF Jose Martinez, OF Randy Arozarena and a Compensation A pick (after 1st round) to the Tampa Bay Rays for LHP prospect Matt Liberatore, a low-level catching prospect and Compensation B pick (post-2nd), sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 10, 2020
The Rays drafted Liberatore with the 16th overall selection in the 2018 MLB First-Year Amateur player draft. Liberatore comes into the 2020 year as the forty-first ranked prospect in the league and was formerly the fourth-ranked prospect in the Rays system. The six-foot-five left-handed pitcher spent his 2019 season with Bowling Green, the Rays Low-A affiliate. In fifteen starts during the 2019 season, Liberatore posted a 6-2 record, a 3.10 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, and 76 punchouts over 78.1 innings tossed. The tall left-hander is a four-pitch guy who has a phenomenal curveball and nice fastball who offers a lot of promise as a lefty.
Besides the top flight lefty, the Cardinals are also receiving Edgardo Rodriguez who is a nineteen-year-old catcher in the Gulf Coast League. He is a lower-value catcher according to reports from analysts like Passan. Rodriguez was a throw-in piece to help the two sides come to an agreement while the Rays were trying to acquire the outfield help.
On the other side of things, Martínez adds a right-handed bat to the Rays outfield who lost Tommy Pham in a trade with the San Diego Padres in exchange for Hunter Renfroe. In 2019, Martínez played in 128 games for the Cardinals with a .269/.410/.240 slash line, while hitting 10 home runs and 42 RBI. Martínez is not all that the Rays acquired, they also got a speedy outfielder in the form of Arozarena. In 2019, Arozarena only played in nineteen total games where he had a solid .300/.500/.391 slash line while spending 64 games at the Triple-A level.
On top of the four players being exchanged, the teams have flip-flopped the only kind of draft picks that teams can trade. The swapped competitive balance round draft picks, with the Rays possessing one in Round B which is after the second round and the Cardinals who have a pick in Round A which is after the first round.