The Chicago Cubs have been rumored as potential trade partner for the Tampa Bay Rays ahead of the deadline for teams to protect Rule 5 draft eligible prospects on Tuesday at 6 pm CT and it would appear that the two teams are nearing an agreement on a deal.
The reported trade between the Cubs and Rays is a slight surprise. While it was certainly expected that the two teams may connect on a deal, it was believed that the move would be centered around the Rays' surplus of Major League-ready pitchers. Tyler Glasnow was a pitcher that was speculated but the Rays also had several relief pitchers that could have been of interest to the team.
Mastrobuoni figured to be the odd man out on the Rays' 40-man roster as the team is littered with super-utility types. At 27 years of age, Mastrobuoni has struggled to catch on at the Major League level as he had a slash line of .188/.235/.188/.423 in 16 plate appearances with the Rays this season. Prior to the 2022 season, Mastrobuoni was proving to be a high-contact bat within the Rays' organization but he did manage to show some increased power this past season. With the Rays' Triple A-affiliate this season, Mastrobuoni had a slash line of .300/.377/.469/.846 to go along with 16 home runs. The 16 home runs were a career best for Mastrobuoni at any level of professional baseball.
The Chicago Cubs added some intriguing infield depth on Tuesday .
Mastrobuoni fits a very similar profile to another player that the Cubs acquired at the Major League Baseball trade deadline this past season. At the deadline last season, the Cubs moved veteran reliever Chris Martin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for utility player Zach McKinstry. Similar to Mastrobuoni, McKinstry hit at every level of professional baseball but struggled once reaching the Major Leagues. The struggles at the Major League level continued for McKinstry while with the Cubs last season as he had a slash line of .206/.272/.361/.633 in 171 plate appearances.
Considering Mastrobuoni has minor league options remaining, it seems likely that he will be replacing McKinstry at the Major League level. McKinstry is out of minor league options and is a candidate to be non-tendered by the Cubs on Friday.
FanGraphs projects Mastrobuoni to have to a .255/.323/.376/.699 slash line at the Major League level next season.
The Cubs have officially announced the trade
Zarraga appeared in 17 games across the Cubs single-A affiliates this past season and posted a 1.93 ERA while striking out 29 batters in 18.2 innings pitched.