The Miami Marlins stood among the active teams at MLB’s wild Trade Deadline. The Marlins sought to improve their club for the long-term with these trades, while sacrificing as little as possible in the short-term.
At 44-58, Miami finds itself occupying the NL East cellar. The team stands 10.5 games out of first place, and even further back in the Wild Card race (14.5 games). Sputtering out of the post-All-Star gate shifted the Marlins focus. Now, the Marlins seek to evaluate their young talent at the Major League level, preparing for a true postseason push in 2022.
The Marlins return home after splitting two games in Baltimore. Miami should’ve won both, considering they held a five-run lead in the second game before things went sideways. The team is now 1-8 in its last nine interleague games heading into this three-game set with the Yankees.
Marlins Trades Reshape the Roster
After being unable to agree upon contract extension terms with Starling Marte, it became clear the team needed to move the talented center fielder. Several teams were reportedly among those interested in acquiring Marte, but ultimately, the 32-year-old center fielder landed in Oakland.
In return, Miami received left-hander Jesus Luzardo, who played locally at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The 23-year-old appeared in 13 games with Oakland this season, starting six games and posting a 2-4 record with a 6.87 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 38.0 innings. In 2020, Luzardo ranked second amongst MLB rookies in strikeouts (59) and innings pitched (59.0). He comes to the Marlins with a 5-6 career MLB record, with a 4.79 ERA over 31 appearances, with 15 starts and two saves.
The Marlins reportedly agreed to pay the majority of Marte’s remaining salary in order to improve the return from Oakland, something the previous regime would have never done. The team optioned Luzardo to Triple-A Jacksonville where he’ll likely continue to stretch out in preparation for joining the starting rotation.
The second of the Marlins trades earlier this week saw closer Yimi Garcia shipped to Houston. Miami received outfield prospect Bryan De La Cruz and RHP Austin Pruitt from the Astros. De La Cruz is hitting .324 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs in 66 games at Triple-A and will get an MLB look this season.
Pruitt, meanwhile, comes with MLB experience already. He’s 12-9 with a 4.89 ERA over parts of four seasons with the Rays (2017-19) and Astros (2021), making 69 appearances, including 10 starts.
Marlins Trades on Deadline Day
The Marlins surprised some when the first of their Deadline Day trades sent Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Duvall, who signed with Miami last offseason, held a $7 million mutual option for 2022. Likely to decline that option seeking more money this coming offseason, the Marlins flipped him to a division rival rather than lose him for nothing.
Duvall provided the most pop to Miami’s lineup. His 22 home runs and .478 slugging percentage led the Marlins this season. His 68 RBI ranked fifth in the National League and second on the Marlins (behind Jesus Aguilar’s 75). Unfortunately, Duvall’s at-bats were often all-or-nothing, considering his .229 batting average, .277 OBP and 105 strikeouts.
In return for Duvall, Miami acquired catcher Alex Jackson. The 25-year-old former 6th overall selection in the 2014 draft has produced little in limited MLB opportunities. He sports just a .293 OPS over 50 career plate appearances. But at Triple-A this season, he’s hitting .287 with a 1.060 OPS in 123 plate appearances. Jackson’s bat has pop, too, with 42 home runs at Triple-A over parts of three seasons.
Additionally, the Marlins sent reliever John Curtiss to Milwaukee in exchange for minor league catcher Payton Henry. Curtiss finds himself on his fifth team in five years. With Miami this season, the righty went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA. Henry provides catching depth for the upper levels of Miami’s farm system.
Jackson will be at the Major League level, whereas Henry will go to Triple-A. The team sought organization depth at catcher, considering their strength is pitching.
These Marlins trades ultimately underwhelmed many fans. Expectations for a major move came up short, but the team found returns for players who weren’t in the long-term plans. The quest to upgrade the roster now looks to the winter, but general manager Kim Ng expects these talks will facilitate future moves. For the remainder of 2021, young players will get the opportunity to show their worth.
Up Next: vs New York Yankees (53-48)
The Marlins weren’t the only team making trades this week. Their weekend opponents, the New York Yankees, sought to improve themselves for their own postseason push. The Yankees have slipped to 8.5 games behind AL East-leading Boston, but they’re only 3.5 games back in the Wild Card race. New York took two-of-three from the Rays in their last series, but entering coming off a 14-0 loss.
The Yankees added two big-time bats to their lineup in separate deals this week. New York picked up Anthony Rizzo from the Cubs. They also acquired Joey Gallo from the Rangers, and made moves earlier in the season to bolster their bullpen.
Now, the Marlins face a team with a loaded lineup with a very familiar face: Giancarlo Stanton. The Yankees expect to start RHP Jameson Taillon (6-4, 4.36 ERA) on Friday. In two career starts versus Miami, Taillon is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA. New York likely sends out RHP Domingo German (4-5, 4.45 ERA) and LHP Jordan Montgomery (4-5, 3.78 ERA) in this series as well. In his last start, German tossed 7.0 IP, allowing just one hit with 10 strikeouts against the Red Sox.
Over their last 10 games, the Yankees are 6-4 with a .236 batting average and 4.12 team ERA. Miami, meanwhile, are 4-6 with a .255 batting average and 5.15 team ERA. Both the Marlins and the Yankees look substantially different after their trades.
The Marlins are hoping to improve upon their dreadful 3-11 interleague record this season. In the wake of the trade deadline, the team hopes to get healthier and get a good look at these new young prospects.
Other Marlins Roster News
Garrett Cooper has a torn UCL in his left elbow and will undergo season-ending surgery. Cooper finishes the season slashing .284/.380/.465 line over 250 plate appearances, with nine homers and 33 RBI. A consistent producer when healthy, Cooper’s career remains injury plagued. His future with the club seems up in the air, even with the National League expecting the DH next season.
In good news, the team activated Jazz Chisholm from the injured list. Also, Jesus Sanchez has initiated the return-to-play protocols and could rejoin the team in the near future. Cody Poteet, meanwhile, has a rehab start in Jacksonville scheduled for August 3rd.
To fill out the roster, the Marlins selected the contracts of reliever Preston Guilmet and outfielder Brian Miller. Guilmet’s made the roster a few times this season, but his appearance against the Orioles stood as his season debut and his first MLB action since 2018.
Miller, meanwhile, will make his MLB debut with his first appearance. The 25-year-old slashed .254/.314/.331 with one homer and 21 RBI over 263 plate appearances with Triple-A Jacksonville this season. He can play three outfield positions.
Reports regarding how other potential Marlins trades fell apart are bound to come out soon. Suffice it to say that the team sought to upgrade the roster at the deadline but would not overpay to do so, unlike some of the other clubs out there.