Last year, the Marlins brought Starling Marte on board in a move that was bold, fun, and a bit unexpected. They are shipping it the same way.
Miami’s Wednesday afternoon deal with Oakland will send the Athletics to Mars in exchange for pitcher Jesus Luzardo, a one-for-one trade that trades one of the best rental bats on the market for an intriguing young pitcher. (Miami will pay the remaining $ 4 million on the Mars contract.) For Oakland, it’s a clear message about how the team views its playoff chances, with the front office trying to make a statement as it clings to a wild-card spot. For Miami, it’s a big change for a pitcher who has lost some of his prospective luster, but still has the potential to power a young and exciting rotation. The result is a deadline move that feels kind of weird: a one-for-one deal of Major League Baseball players, between two teams in quite different locations, which nonetheless makes sense for both sides.
Let’s start with Oakland. A playoff spot seems highly likely for the Athletics at this point, but so is their third wild-card outing in four years. To improve their chances of a serious and sustained career, they needed to create some action on the deadline. And this more than qualifies: Mars was one of the strongest hitters available. The 32-year-old has a long history of consistent production, but is currently having one of his best seasons at the plate (136 OPS +). As a team, Oakland’s offense has been solid but unspectacular, and this is the kind of addition that could help push them to the limit. They don’t need Mars to play their traditional center field.though i could“But wherever he ends up, a trio of him, Ramon Laureano and Mark Canha should mean that one of the strongest outfields in baseball will now be in Oakland.”
Which, of course, comes at a price, even for a short-term rental. But this is one that seems logical for A’s. After they acquired Luzardo on the deadline in 2017, he eventually became not only their best overall prospect, but one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball. It has certainly shown glimpses of that promise. But he’s also dealing with injuries, and he’s in the middle of a terrible season that sent him back to Triple-A, where he didn’t seem to benefit from the change of scenery. This doesn’t mean that you won’t eventually get back on track. But it does mean he seemed to have a hard time doing it in Oakland. And given the other pitching the team has developed recently – Cole Irvin and James Kaprielian – it makes sense that the front office is willing to part ways with Luzardo.
And it makes so much sense that he gets a lot of interest from the Marlins. This is an organization that has built a solid reputation in recent years for working with young pitchers, and there is still reason to believe the 23-year-old Luzardo, their head of speed among them. Here you are faced with a wide range of possible outcomes. But with more than four years of team control remaining, there’s room to entertain everyone, and if he ends up being closer to a starter in the middle of the rotation than the ace he was originally projected as, in exchange for two months from Mars. and $ 4 million, for what could be the next four seasons, that should be more than satisfactory for Miami. And who knows? Perhaps, with the correct settings, still it is that top-notch talent. Maybe he will end up working in the bullpen, where he successfully debuted in 2019, or maybe he won’t be successful with any of the above. But the potential is bright enough to be an opportunity worth running.
The Marlins could have flipped Mars for a prospect package; As of a few days ago, that seemed likely, with rumors surrounding teams like the Giants, Yankees and Astros. Instead, with the Athletics, they found a business partner that offered a single high-potential player who could potentially have a serious impact soon. Crucially, he continues to establish the Miami rotation as a real strength. With the right breaks, particularly when it comes to health, Luzardo’s five starters Sixto Sánchez, Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers and Pablo López could easily finish among the best in MLB. The oldest of that group is just 25. In other words, there’s a lot to like here, even if it should take some more action to translate into a winning team. It’s a rotation that could set the team up for remarkable success, or at least the ability to trade from a place of strength, if the Marlins ultimately decide to beef up their lineup, giving them the option to move one or more of these pitchers while maintaining depth. enough for a good rotation.
Mars, unsurprisingly, was the subject of major trade talks this July. But not much was said about a move like this, to a team that probably couldn’t extend it, like Oakland, or in exchange for a single major league player, rather than a pool of prospects. Which may seem familiar in tone, at least, if not in substance. Go back to when Miami acquired Mars last August. There was a widespread expectation that he would be sold – he was one of the best hitters on the market. But to be bought by the fringe contenders of the pandemic hodgepodge, the Marlins? It was not the biggest shock of the deadline. But there was a strong argument that it was the most intriguing. Which also fits with this. Once again, there was a widespread expectation that Mars would be traded, still one of the best hitters on the market! But for the A’s, apparently not content to settle for another wild card loss, straight to a pitcher like Luzardo? There should be more important operations on this deadline. But there may not be another that is so straightforward fun.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.