Marte DFA’d

This afternoon, the Indians acquired Juan Salas from the Rays, who had been designated for assignment last week. Salas is a fairly nifty pickup for the Indians and could turn into a decent RH middle reliever if given a chance. However, I’m not here to write about Salas – I’m here to write about Andy Marte.

Marte was DFA’d to make room for Salas on the 40 man roster, which means the Indians now have 10 days to trade him or put him on waivers. If they put him on waivers and he goes unclaimed, he can be outrighted to Triple-A, which would keep him in the organization while removing him from the 40 man roster.

This completes a pretty dramatic fall from grace for Marte, who was once considered one of the premier prospects in the game. From a performance standpoint, his track record in the minors was terrific. He showed power early on (slugging .492 as an 18-year-old in the South Atlantic League), added patience (a .372 OBP in a terrible-for-hitters park at 19 in the Carolina League), and hit well in the upper minors (.269/.364/.525 as a 20-year-old in Double-A, .275/.372/.506 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A).

However, after his 2005 season put him on the cusp of the majors, the Braves traded him to Boston (who subsequently sent him to Cleveland), and his career completely stalled. He didn’t hit in Cleveland or in Buffalo, and has continued to struggle ever since. In 561 major league plate appearances over the last four years, he’s hit just .211/.265/.337, racking up a terrible -3.68 WPA/LI in essentially one season’s worth of playing time.

Now 25 years old, Marte is essentially available to anyone who has a spot on the 25 man roster to burn – he’s out of options, so if claimed on waivers, the claiming team wouldn’t have the option of sending him to Triple-A without re-waiving him and hoping he cleared.

His performance over the last few seasons suggest that he’s regressed significantly from the player he once was, but it’s still hard to ignore what he did from ages 18 to 21, where he was consistently one of the best young players in baseball. I have a feeling someone’s going to give him a second chance, and they might just find themselves with a pleasant surprise on their hands. It wouldn’t be the first time the Indians got rid of a 24-year-old busted prospect right before he put things together.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

13 Responses to “Marte DFA’d”

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  1. Jason T says:

    Brandon Phillips? Oh, Cleveland. Terrible fail.

    The M’s are pretty much tapped out for the 25 man @ this point, but would he fit the bill of someone to really push Lopez? Or, would he be a step above the current crop of M’s middle infielders?

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  2. Sean S says:

    “This afternoon, the Indians acquired Juan Salas from the Rays, who had been designated for assignment last week.”

    The Rays had been designated for assignment? I know Tampa’s a terrible baseball town, but that’s a little extreme.

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  3. BD says:

    I’m going to ask a pretty basic question that may be unanswerable: What happened to this guy? Or more generally, when someone is that good, that young, and then utterly craters when the get to the bigs, and there’s no injury you can point to, what’s the reason?

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  4. Brian Cartwright says:

    Marte was just never as good as a lot of people thought. The Braves realized this and got what they could for him.

    Unregressed single season MLEs
    2002 18 ATL A 252 300 408 308
    2003 19 ATL A+ 278 344 482 355
    2004 20 ATL AA 259 335 496 356
    2005 21 ATL MLB 242 324 449 334
    2006 22 CLE MLB 235 290 418 306
    2007 23 CLE MLB 239 273 409 293
    2008 24 CLE MLB 220 267 314 260

    Now clearly he has gone backward every season since Cleveland acquired him, but at the point where they got him from Atlanta, he had three straight years with a MLE wOBA above avg for a 3b, but still a guy who was going to hit 240-250 with about 20 HRs. Really no better than Jose Bautista. Once you throw in Marcel and regression, my highest projection was a 333 wOBA, barely above avg for a MLB 3b.

    Declining BABIPs could come from loss of speed and hitting more balls in the air.

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    • JH says:

      2005 was the last year he was really considered a top prospect. He started his slow fade in 2006 to end up as a DFA.

      Why you’d ever judge a 19-21 year old on his MLEs is beyond me.

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  5. Bermanator says:

    I wonder how many teams will call Cleveland to kick the tires on this guy within the next 10 days, and what the Indians wind up taking for him.

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  6. scstrato says:

    I’m curious, does Marte not have enough service time to elect free agency if no one claims him? This may be a moot point if Cleveland intends to outright release him under this scenario, but i’m curious if this will have a role in where he ends up.

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  7. Brian Cartwright says:

    He’s entering his 9th pro season, and he’s on the major league 40 man roster.

    Once on the 40, you can only be sent to the minors in 3 different seasons, within I believe four years of the date of your mlb debut. Those are used up.

    He doesn’t get mlb free agency until he has six years service time on the 25 man roster.

    A team claiming him on waivers must carry him on their 25, or waive him again (can’t be assigned to minors). However, if no one claims him after 10 days, then he is released, and can sign with anyone. But, that can be to a minor league contract.

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  8. Ron says:

    Word is, Dayton Moore has just traded Joakim Soria, straight up for Marte, and immediately signed him to a contract extension for 3yrs/$15 mil.

    When asked why, Moore replied, “As I’ve said all along, good relievers can be found anywhere, and we really need another guy with a below .300 OPS to take us over the top, and all the way to the World Series. He’s a great clubhouse presence.”

    In other news, in November 2009, Joakim Soria, who had been moved to the starting rotation by the Indians, will only finish 5th in the Cy Young voiting, in his spite of his 37-1 record, with a .78 ERA.

    Experts sight his lack of hardware as proof that sabermatricians have finally convinced the BBWAA that a pitchers W/L record and ERA are no indicaiton of how good he is. The winner, David Price, finished with a 8-14 record and 4.32 ERA, but his graphs looked absolutely fabulous.

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  9. The Orioles have had good luck with (slightly older) former Indians prospects, too…

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  10. CJ says:

    Marte’s Total Zone stats in the minor leagues are exceptionally good at third base. He has been up and down in the majors (plus sometimes, negative others), according to UZR, with a career number around -2….but given the sample sizes each year, I don’t know how much confidence you can put in that for predictive purposes. My question is: for people who have seen Marte in the field, how good is he, defensively, at 3d base? The Total Zone stats from the minors would seem to indicate he is a very good defensive player at 3d base. If he has the potential to be a plus defensive third baseman, that could give him some life in the majors, even if his bat isn’t as good as once expected.

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