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.