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Potential trade partner: The Miami Marlins

The Marlins have young pitching, would the Royals be interested?

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The hot stove season is in full swing, with some anticipating a flurry of moves before baseball shuts down in December once the labor deal expires. The Royals have been known to be aggressive early under Dayton Moore, and they may be more likely to explore trades than pursuing free agents. Moore recently told Alec Lewis at The Athletic that while they’d like to pursue a starting pitcher, they may be priced out of the free agent market.

“Like always, what we’ll do in building our team is, we’ll look internally,” Moore said. “Then we’ll look to make trades. Then we’ll explore the free-agent market. … It’s going to be really difficult for us to sign a starting pitcher.”

That could make the Miami Marlins an attractive trade partner. They have an entire rotation of under-27 year old pitchers, with more on the way, and could be looking to trade some of those arms for bats.

Here is a look at what Marlins pitchers have done the last three seasons.

Marlins pitchers (2019-2021 stats)

Pitcher Age IP K/9 ERA FIP fWAR Free agency
Pitcher Age IP K/9 ERA FIP fWAR Free agency
Sandy Alcantara 26.070 445.0 7.91 3.48 3.95 7.3 2025
Elisier Hernandez 26.197 159.2 9.70 4.45 5.24 0.6 2025
Pablo Lopez 25.254 271.1 8.92 4.01 3.65 5.5 2025
Jesus Luzardo 24.047 166.1 9.36 5.36 4.82 1.0 2026
Trevor Rogers 24.003 161.0 10.96 3.24 2.86 4/6 2027

Trevor Rogers is almost certainly untouchable after finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. The Marlins just acquired Jesus Luzardo from the Athletics last summer, which makes it less likely they would move him along again, although he might make for a nice “buy-low” candidate after posting a 6.61 ERA in 95 13 innings this season.

Alcantara is coming off a 4.2 fWAR season where he posted a 3.19 ERA while finishing fourth in the league with 205 23 innings pitched, so it seems less likely the Marlins would deal him. That leaves Elieser Hernández and Pablo López, who Jon Morosi has reported are the “most available arms.”

Hernandez still has yet to put it together, missing two months this year with a quad strain and posting a 4.18 ERA but a 5.38 FIP in 51 23 innings. He’s projected to make $1.4 million this year under arbitration so the Marlins could be pretty motivated to move him or even non-tender him.

That leaves Pablo López. The 25-year old Venezuelan right-hander had a decent debut in 2018, but has really taken his performance to the next level in the last two seasons. In 2020-21, he has made 31 starts with a 3.26 ERA and 3.22 FIP with 9.8 strikeouts-per-nine innings, good for 3.9 fWAR. On the other hand, he was limited to just 20 starts this year, missing most of the last two months with a strained rotator cuff. López is projected to earn $2.5 million through arbitration, and would not be a free agent until 2025.

I asked Isaac Azout of Fish Stripes about who the Marlins might be willing to deal.

The Marlins are looking to supplement their Major League roster this winter. In order to do so, they’re going to look to trade from the abundance of starting pitching in their organization. The only Major League starting pitcher I realistically see them moving on from this off-season is Elieser Hernández....Lesser names I can also see them trading are guys like Braxton Garrett, Garrett Cooper, Monte Harrison, Nick Neidert, and Brian Miller.

An interesting name for me is Pablo López, who is arbitration eligible for the first time. While personally I wouldn’t trade someone as talented as he is, his name has been floated around a few times now. Pablo missed time this year with a right shoulder injury, an injury that has plagued him a couple of times now. If the Marlins are really confident in their pitching development, which I believe they are, they could gamble and trade Lopez to really maximize the return from a “win-now” ball club.

What are the Marlins looking to get back? Again, Azout:

Offense. Some more offense. Then maybe some bullpen depth. The Marlins were bottom third in the league in virtually every major offensive category. In any trades, the Marlins are specifically going to target a catcher and 1-2 outfielders, preferably a center fielder. In my opinion, catcher is the more pressing need, so I see them solidifying that position first. On the trade front, Jacob Stallings, Wilson Contreras, and Alejandro Kirk are options that have been reported. As mentioned, the Marlins are looking for offensive-centric outfielders as well. They traded Starling Marte for Luzardo last year, so I don’t think they’re looking to acquire more pitching. Dream scenarios for the team would involve acquiring players like Bryan Reynolds, Bryon Buxton, Cedric Mullins or Ketel Marte. All those names would command an immense package in return, however those are the types of players Miami would like to add to their offense.

Lastly, the Marlins would probably like to solidify the closer role. Although there’ve been no reports on that, I believe they will be in the market for an experienced closer. Anthony Bass began the season as the team’s closer, but that failed miserably, as he lost the job a month into the season. Dylan Floro finished the season as the team’s closer, and did a decent job. However I think he is better suited to be a 7th or 8th inning guy.

Overall, the Marlins are going to seek bats this off-season.

So here’s my proposed trade:

Proposed trade: MJ Melendez, Seuly Matias, and Michael Massey to the Marlins for Pablo López and Monte Harrison

Why the Royals do it: López gives the Royals a cost-controlled pitcher with upside for their rotation for the next three seasons. Harrison, who is from Lee’s Summit in the Kansas City area and is a former top 100 prospect according to Baseball America, has a good power-speed combo and could be another outfielder for the mix that could possibly play centerfield.

Melendez seems blocked at catcher by Salvador Perez, making him a good candidate to be flipped to fill other needs. Matias could be exposed to the Rule 5 draft if he is not protected on the 40-man roster, and has had trouble staying healthy and making contact. Massey has put up solid numbers, but he was old for his league and the Royals have a fair amount of middle infield depth.

Why the Marlins do it: The Marlins have an excess of pitching, but badly need a catcher for the future. Harrison has been underwhelming at higher levels of the minors and has been passed up on the depth chart by other players.

They could bring back a local kid like Melendez, a top 100 prospect that could provide power in that lineup and is near-MLB ready. Matias has 80-grade power and could be an interesting gamble. Massey smacked 21 home runs and won a minor league Gold Glove and could move through a thinner system quickly.

Why the Royals don’t do it: López hasn’t really proven he can do it over an entire season and is coming off a season where he missed time with a shoulder injury. The Royals probably need offense more than pitching, and trading Melendez takes away a potential impact bat.

Why the Marlins don’t do it: The Marlins need outfielders, and this doesn’t address that need, in fact, it thins out their depth at that position. They will also have other young catcher options with Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk and Pittsburgh’s Jacob Stallings reportedly available.

What do you think? Can the Royals make a deal with the Marlins?


Would you trade MJ Melendez, Seuly Matias, and Michael Massey to the Marlins for Pablo López and Monte Harrison?

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