Some Cardinals fans put a lot of time and effort into constructing hypothetical trade proposals to present to the Miami Marlins.
The Marlins openly stopped starting pitching. Fans wanted the Cardinals to add a starting pitcher to the current pile of Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Jordan Montgomery, Steven Matz and Dakota Hudson. None of those guys meet the criteria of true No. 1 starting pitcher.
Fans targeted Pablo Lopez and even budding superstar Sandy Alcantara with their proposals.
Alas, Lopez is off the board and the Marlins seem satisfied with their roster adjustment. Miami sent Lopez and prospects Jose Salas and Byron Chourio to Minnesota for infielder Luis Arraez on Friday.
People are also reading…
Arraez, the 2022 American League batting champion, will play second base for the Marlins and bump Jazz Chisholm to center field.
“Jazz is a very unique athlete. Very dynamic,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng told reporters. “He's got great range, great speed. He's got a lot of the things that you look for when you're thinking about center field.”
Miami followed that move by zeroing in on free-agent first baseman Yuli Gurriel to add more depth to the offense
Earlier Miami added Jean Segura, so Arraez and Segura are expected to become table-setters for new manager Skip Schumaker. Gurriel, who hit 31 homers in 2019 before falling off, could add more middle-of-the-order heft if he can turn back his clock.
With Chisholm in the outfield and Gurriel in the mix, Miami could fill needs that Cardinals fans proposed filling with Dylan Carlson and Juan Yepez.
Analysts really like this deal from Minnesota’s viewpoint, since Lopez has top-of-the-rotation potential and the boomerang return of Carlos Correa left the Twins with an infield surplus to trade from.
Arraez is an old-school hitter, spraying hits all over the field, but doesn’t offer power or a good glove. So the Twins’ haul of Lopez plus two prospects for him is impressive.
Had the Cardinals been in serious discussions with Miami for Lopez, Tipsheet guesses that Minnesota would not have enjoyed so much trade leverage.
For his part, Arraez is excited to make the move.
“It's a lot of young guys there like me,” Arraez said. “I'll be excited to play [around] a lot of people from Venezuela, from [the Dominican Republic], from Puerto Rico. I'm hoping to give a lot of energy to the Marlins fans, a lot of energy to my teammates, to the coaching staff, to everybody there. I just go there to win a lot of games.”
Here is how folks assessed the trade:
Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com: “Each team traded from an area of depth to address a weakness with this trade. The Twins badly needed another quality starting pitcher and the return of Carlos Correa allowed them to trade an infielder. The Marlins have been looking to add offense all winter, specifically a high contact bat, and had pitching to spare after signing Johnny Cueto. That led the two teams to each other. The soon-to-be 26-year-old Arraez is one of the game's great bat control artists, slashing .316/.375/.420 in 2022. He's hit .314 with more walks (137) than strikeouts (131) since his MLB debut in 2019. He doesn't have much power, nor does he provide much on the bases or in the field, but Arraez is one of the best pure hitters in the game and significant offensive upgrade for Miami . . . López, 26, went 10-10 with a 3.75 ERA (108 ERA+), 1.17 WHIP and 174 strikeouts against 52 unintentional walks in 180 innings -- 32 starts -- last season. It was his first uninterrupted 162-game season in Miami's rotation, as his previous career highs were 21 starts and 111 1/3 innings in 2019. Perhaps that was at least part of the reason he faltered in the second half, as López was putting together a big-time breakout season for a stretch. Through his first 10 starts, López had a 1.83 ERA and 0.98 ERA and he was sitting with a 2.86 ERA and 1.07 WHIP at the All-Star break. After the break, he pitched to a 4.97 ERA. Much of his issues were condensed into a 10-start stretch from July 21-Sept. 10, however, as he allowed 36 earned runs on 62 hits in 49 2/3 innings (6.52 ERA) before finishing strong with a 2.05 ERA in his last four starts.”
Ben Clemens, FanGraphs: “The Twins desperately needed pitching, and López is just what the doctor ordered there. Fresh off of a healthy season with a 3.75 ERA and matching peripherals, he’s probably the second-best Twins starter behind Sonny Gray. I thought they were two pitchers short before this trade; they had roughly four proven starters and plenty of question marks. They still don’t have a ton of depth, but their rotation looks a lot better with Bailey Ober and Josh Winder as the sixth and seventh options than as the fifth and sixth. There’s some dispute about López’s true talent level, but I’m bought in on what the projection systems think: he’s squarely above average and a borderline All-Star if he throws a full season. That’s the pitching version of Arraez, and given that the Twins are replacing Arraez with some solid bats in their own right but are upgrading from poor pitching to López, that one-for-one switch would already make their major league team better in 2023 in my estimation.”
Bradford Doolittle, ESPN.com: “Since Arraez broke into the majors in 2019, he leads all 247 hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances with 10.8 at-bats per strikeout, per Baseball-Reference.com . . . The Marlins needed starting-quality position players in the worst way and Arraez gives them one. Everyone knew they could and almost certainly would deal from their starting pitching depth and because Lopez had just two more seasons before free agency -- and he's good -- he seemed the most likely to go. Arraez has three controllable seasons left, which is likely a big reason why the Twins were able to extract real prospect value from Miami in addition to Lopez. The acquisition of Arraez now works in tandem with the Marlins' lone significant free agent signee, Jean Segura, to give Miami a new top of its batting order. There really isn't such a thing as a sure .300 hitter anymore, but Arraez is as close to one as you'll find and also draws enough walks to stick in the leadoff slot every day. Meanwhile, Segura hits for average as well, has decent plate discipline and the two of them will give the Marlins a chance to set the table nicely on a daily basis. Of course, someone has to clear the table, but that's another story. Arraez almost has to hit .300 with a .350-plus on-base percentage to have real value because he doesn't do much else. He's not athletic and generally offers little defensive value, though he did well enough at first base in 2022 to become a Gold Glove finalist at the position in a thin field. He also doesn't hit for much power. But pointing out the flaws in Arraez's dossier is almost beside the point. He gets on base and that plays anywhere, anytime.”
Josh Norris, Baseball America: “In Arraez, (the Marlins) added a player who fits their recent profile of high contact at the expense of big-time power. That profile also fits a trio of other recent trade acquisitions: Xavier Edwards from the Rays, Jordan Groshans from the Blue Jays and Jacob Amaya from the Dodgers. The other three players have defensive value, but Arraez’s best position at this point is in the batter’s box. Even so, he’ll instantly become one of the Marlins’ best offensive players as the team attempts to overhaul its lineup.”
David Laurila, FanGraphs: “Miami’s top prospect is a big reason why parting with a pitcher of López’s quality is perfectly defensible. While recently-signed Johnny Cueto will take Lopez’s rotation spot in the near term, it is Eury Pérez who promises to make an already-good rotation even better. Arguably the best right-handed pitching prospect in the game -- Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez and Philadelphia’s Andrew Painter are also on the short-list — Pérez has a Sandy Alcántara-ish ceiling. The 6-foot-8 native of Santiago, Dominican Republic excelled in Double-A this past year as a teenager, and there is a real chance that he’ll reach the big leagues at age 20.”
“Pitching is our strength, and that’s our foundation I think this was a very good baseball trade for both clubs . . . This offseason definitely felt a little bit like, you know, ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ It was a slow build. But we finally got to a better place.”
Ng, on the Lopez-for-Arraez trade.