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Cardinals, Rays make six-player trade involving José Martínez and Matt Liberatore

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Update (7:22 PM ET): Per Passan, the Cardinals are sending 1B/OF José Martínez, outfielder Randy Arozarena, and a Compensation Round A pick to the Rays for Liberatore, a low-level catching prospect, and a Compensation Round B pick.

Martínez, 31, has a .296/.361/.458 slash line along with 41 home runs and 171 RBI across 1,270 plate appearances spanning the past three seasons. His defense leaves much to be desired, but the Rays can hide him at DH.

Arozarena, 24, is the Cardinals’ No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. He performed well in a limited amount of time late last season, batting .300/.391/.500 with a double, a homer, two RBI, four runs scored, and two stolen bases in 23 trips to the plate.

The low-level catching prospect is Edgardo Rodriguez, per Rosenthal. Rodriguez, 19, spent last season with the Rays’ rookie league team, batting .400/.429/.520 over 10 games.

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Update (6:34 PM ET): The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the trade will be three-for-three. At the moment, Liberatore is the only known name in the deal.

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Cardinals have acquired pitching prospect Matt Liberatore from the Rays. The return is unknown but the Rays are expected to receive “major league pieces.” Passan notes that the Rays had been on the hunt for outfield bats.

Liberatore, 20, was ranked No. 4 in the Rays’ system and No. 41 across baseball, per MLB Pipeline. The left-hander was selected by the Rays in the first round (16th overall) in the 2018 draft. This past season for Single-A Bowling Green, Liberatore compiled a 3.10 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 31 walks over 78 1/3 innings.

Even without knowing the full details, it is a curious trade for the Rays considering the club had Tommy Pham but traded him to the Padres last month. Pham was projected to earn $8.6 million in arbitration.

We’ll update this post as more details emerge.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.