Indians bolster outfield, acquire Leonys Martin from Tigers

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CLEVELAND (AP) - Nothing splashy, just sensible.

The Cleveland Indians stabilized their shaky outfield without making a blockbuster trade.

Riddled by injuries to outfielders all season, Cleveland acquired center fielder Leonys Martin from the Detroit Tigers before Tuesday's deadline for 21-year-old infield prospect Willi Castro.

The AL Central-leading Indians also will receive right-hander Kyle Dowdy.

Although they had been linked to talks involving more high-profile outfielders like superstar Bryce Harper, Adam Jones and others, the Indians opted to make a deal that wouldn't be too damaging to their future.

The 30-year-old Martin is a steady hitter and strong fielder who will take away runs for Cleveland's pitching staff. He leads the league with nine assists.

He also gives manager Terry Francona another option in center field with Bradley Zimmer done for the season following shoulder surgery and Tyler Naquin on the disabled list with a hip injury.

"It's been a position that's been a little bit in flux for us for a balance of the season, so we explored a lot of alternatives to try and address and improve our outfield options," team president Chris Antonetti said. "And we were really pleased to be able to acquire Leonys Martin. We think he's a great complement to our roster. He provides us a very good defender in center field who's a good base runner, capable of playing both center and right, and is also a very good offensive player against right-handed pitching.

"His skill set complements our current roster really well."

The Indians made a second move before the deadline, acquiring outfielder Oscar Mercado from St. Louis for outfielders Conner Capel and Jhon Torres.

Because of injuries, Cleveland was down to Greg Allen and 37-year-old Rajai Davis as their center fielders. Also, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall is out with a nagging calf injury.

Martin has twice been on the disabled list this season with a left hamstring injury, but Antonetti is confident he's healthy and ready to help the Indians immediately.

"We spent a lot of time on that, working through that," Antonetti said. "Talking through that with the Tigers medical personnel and also we had the ability to see him play over the last handful of games to watch and make sure he's healthy. We think he's working his way back to full strength and top speed but he's getting pretty close to that level."

The trade for Martin followed Cleveland fixing its worrisome bullpen. On July 19, the club sent top prospect Francisco Mejia, a switch-hitting catcher/outfielder, to the San Diego Padres for All-Star closer Brad Hand and sidearmer Adam Cimber.

That major move may have impacted the Indians' willingness to get into a bidding war for Harper, who is not leaving Washington.

Antonetti would provide any specifics about the Indians' pursuit of one of baseball's top players.

"Over the last month plus we spent a lot of time examining alternatives to improve the team," he said. "While our initial focus was improving our bullpen options, we were concurrently focused on trying to improve our outfield situation. That market took a little bit longer time to develop, and really came together here over the last few days. But throughout that process, we examined a lot of different alternatives and are really pleased that we ended up with Leonys."

Martin batted .251 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in 336 plate appearances this season for the Tigers, who are 18½ games behind Cleveland. Martin has scored 78 runs in his first season with Detroit.

The Cuban native has a .248 average with 47 homers and 205 RBIs in 699 games with Texas, Seattle, the Chicago Cubs and Tigers.

Martin has a $1.75 million salary, of which the Indians are responsible for $573,925. He has earned $600,000 in bonuses based on plate appearances, and would earn $100,000 each for 350 and each additional 25 through 475 plus $50,000 for 500.

More importantly, he is under club control through next season through arbitration.

Dowdy, 25, is 8-8 with a 4.74 ERA between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this season.

Castro batted .245 at Double-A Akron with five homers and 39 RBIs.

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