After weeks of rumors, the Marlins made a much-anticipated trade of one of its starting pitchers. Miami traded RHP Pablo López and two prospects to the Minnesota Twins for infielder Luis Arraez. It’s a significant trade, as the move involves a reigning league batting champion, and one of MLB’s better pitchers. Here’s a closer look at how this trade shakes out.
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The Marlins’ Return
- INF Luis Arraez (4.4 bWAR)
The Miami Marlins are set to receive infielder Luis Arraez from the Twins. The infielder won hit first career batting title in 2022, as Arraez hit .316 for Minnesota last season. Arraez spent most of last season in the leadoff spot in the Twins lineup, and for good reason. The 25-year-old recorded a .375 OBP last season, just outside of the MLB top ten.
The fifth-year infielder won’t elevate the ball, but Arraez doesn’t make weak contact all that often — Arraez had a tidy 1.4% Weak% rate last season. The ex-Twin does his damage with squared up balls and sharp line drives; Arraez recorded the fourth-best LD% (29.8%) rate last season among all hitters.
It’s not hard to figure out why the Marlins would want Arraez, and also why the Twins may have been reluctant to give him up. Despite little power, Arraez possesses arguably the best hit tool in the game — he won’t get many extra base hits, but he’ll hit balls well enough to get on base on a regular basis. Plus, Arraez does have position versatility. The new Marlin played first, second, and third last season.
The Twins’ Return
- RHP Pablo López (3.0 bWAR)
- INF José Salas
- OF Byron Chourio
2022 marked yet another strong season Pablo López, who struck out 174 over 180 innings and posted a 3.52 ERA. López has been one of the game’s more consistent pitchers over the past three seasons; over the past three seasons, the 26-year-old recorded three consecutive sub-4.00 ERAs, and was just one of 28 pitchers who logged an ERA (3.52) of at least 3.60 ERA or better and a K/9 rate (9.2) of at least 9.0 from 2020-22 (min. 200 IP).
López doesn’t posses an elite fastball — the right-hander boasts average velocity, but above-average extension that does make it look harder. What López does have is a plus changeup that racked up strikeouts and weak contact. The difference between the speed of his fastball (93.5) and change (87.5) is about six MPH, not incredibly high but just enough to throw off timing. To little shock, the pitch was heavily used down and low to López’s arm side from last season.
Additional weapons in López’s arsenal includes a cut fastball and curveball. Each were used about 8% each, per Statcast.
In addition to a solid arsenal, López recorded above-average Weak% and Topped% rates last season — unsurprising given the effectiveness of his changeup. The 26-year-old also boasts an career impressive Edge% of 44.3%, a sign of how well the righty works the edges of the zone and utilizes strong control and command of his stuff.
Additionally, Minnesota acquired two prospects in José Salas and Byron Chourio. Salas ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Marlins system prior to this deal, per MLB.com.
For the Marlins, this move continues a realignment of the team’s infield. Miami traded away impending free agent Miguel Rojas to Los Angeles earlier this month, and inked infielder Jean Segura last month to man third base. Arraez figures to get time both at first and second, as well as DH. Even though Miami’s right side of the infield is set with Jazz Chisholm — assuming the Marlins keep him at second — and Garrett Cooper, Arraez will be a regular.
Miami does lose López, but the Marlins could afford to deal him given the likes of Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, Jesus Luzardo, and Braxton Garrett in the rotation, and youngsters like Sixto Sanchez and Eury Perez.
As far as the Twins are concerned, López will join a rotation that includes strikeout machine Tyler Mahle, Sonny Gray, and Joe Ryan. Those four should form a solid core group in Minnesota’s rotation, something that the Twins didn’t really have much in 2022. Despite solid performances from Ryan and Gray last season, others like Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy, and Josh Winder couldn’t push the Twins to the finish line.
It does sting that the Twins gave up a sparkplug at the top of the lineup, but Minnesota does have depth in its lineup. If a winner had to be picked today, the Twins’ haul of a steady starter in López, plus two prospects makes this a win for Minnesota.
UPDATE: Marlins GM Kim Ng told reporters after the trade was officially confirmed that Chisholm will move to center field for 2023.