Dropped by the Indians last month, one-time elite prospect Andy Marte has signed a minor-league contract with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.
Managing only a minor-league deal without a 40-man roster spot shows just how far Marte’s stock has plummeted since he ranked among Baseball America‘s top 15 prospects in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but Pittsburgh is as good a place as any to attempt a career resurrection for the 27-year-old.
After all, the Pirates just dropped a former top third base prospect of their own in Andy LaRoche. LaRoche has been a huge bust, but Marte has been one of the biggest busts of the past decade.
Once upon a time Andy Marte was considered an elite prospect.
While in the Braves’ farm system he ranked among Baseball America‘s top 50 prospects in four years, including top-15 spots in 2004, 2005, and 2006.
After hitting .275/.372/.506 with 20 homers and 64 walks in 109 games at Triple-A as a 21-year-old in 2005 the Braves traded him to the Red Sox for Edgar Renteria and then a month later the Red Sox traded him to the Indians for Coco Crisp.
At the time there was speculation about whether a top prospect being traded twice in the span of six weeks should raise a red flag about his future, but it was tough to argue with Marte’s production in the minors while being very young for each level of competition.
Five years later Marte has hit just .218 with a .277 on-base percentage and .358 slugging percentage in 924 plate appearances as a big leaguer, never playing well enough to get even 250 at-bats in a season from the Indians. Among all the first basemen, third basemen, designated hitters, and corner outfielders with at least 900 plate appearances during that time Marte has the lowest OPS in baseball at .635.
And today the Indians decided they’d seen enough, dropping Marte from the 40-man roster and giving him the option to become a free agent or accept an assignment back to Triple-A. At age 27 he’s young enough to get another chance somewhere, but since 2006 or so there’s really nothing in Marte’s track record to suggest he’s capable of being more than a role player (and even that might be a stretch).
Right now Marte qualifies as one of the biggest prospect busts of the 2000s.