The Marlins swapped some proven vets for some unproven, talented youngsters
Alright. It's been a few days. I can now look at the trade deadline deals my Marlins made with a clear mind and cold heart. These trades weren't all super-popular on Twitter; it's a fool's game to judge moves based off your initial reaction, though. We were an emotional bunch, but as a self-appointed representative of Marlins fans everywhere (there are DOZENS of us!), I will now take an objective look into Derek Jeter and Kim Ng's MLB trade deadline maneuvers.
Trade #1: Starling Marte to Oakland for Jesús Luzardo
Miami's first move came in the form of a Starling Marte-Jesús Luzardo swap. The Oakland A's shipped their former top prospect to Miami in exchange for a shiny new outfielder as they make a playoff push. Miami also agreed to pay the rest of Marte's salary for this season, the last on his current deal.
This one hurts because of what could have been, but it was the right call. Marte was Miami's best player and part of their playoff run in 2020. The Marlins entered 2021 with contention on their minds, probably assuming Marte would lead them to October. While the Dominican outfielder held up his end of the bargain (2.9 bWAR in 63 games), Miami's rash of injuries, underperforming lineup, and inconsistent bullpen have dropped them into the NL East cellar. They could have kept him and watched him walk in free agency (Marte and the Marlins front office couldn't come to terms on an extension), or they could have gotten some value for him before he left. They chose the latter.
Luzardo, though? He's uber-talented and still only 23 years old, don't get me wrong. But this organization has a surplus of starting pitching. Where does he slot in when you have Sandy, Sixto, Rogers, Pablo, Cabrera, Meyer, Eder, etc. all in the bigs or knocking on the door? Some of these guys have to go to the pen; as of right now, my money is on Luzardo being one of them. His control and durability concern me.
Luzardo's high-90s fastball could certainly play well in a late-inning spot, so that might be a good thing. He's not as valuable in that role, though, which makes the Marte deal not quite as sparkly. It's better than nothing, that's for sure. But we couldn't have gone for a position of need? Like catcher? Or centerfield? Or catcher? Or maybe corner infield? Or maybe, like, catcher?
PG Score: 6.5/10
Trade #2: Yimi García to Houston for Bryan De La Cruz and Austin Pruitt
The Marlins' second trade before the deadline involved another AL West team in the Houston Astros. Miami sent reliever Yimi García to Houston for outfielder Bryan De La Cruz and pitcher Austin Pruitt.
I like it. I like it a lot. Yimi García was a nice piece for Miami's bullpen the last two seasons, although he's lost some of his effectiveness since he became the closer (6.14 ERA across June and July). He might not be built for that job, but he can certainly serve as a useful arm in the 7th or 8th for a contending team like the Astros. He's also a free agent after this season is over, so the Marlins are once again squeezing some value out of a player who probably wasn't part of their long-term plans. Good stuff.
You weren't going to get a huge haul for García, but Bryan De La Cruz is no joke. The 24-year-old outfielder seems to have unlocked something in his approach/swing in 2021, as he's hitting for significantly more pop. His .324/.362/.518 Triple-A slash line is impressive. The Marlins immediately promoted him; he should get significant playing time for the rest of this season. Miami's outfield is wide open. Like wide the fuck open. No job is secure, meaning De La Cruz could conceivably be a starter on Opening Day 2022.
Austin Pruitt has had his moments as a reliever and spot starter in the Majors across four seasons. Miami has been excellent over the past few years at developing pitchers, so don't be surprised if the 31-year-old takes a bit of a leap in performance.
The Marlins swapped a good-not-great reliever on an expiring contract for a potential starting outfielder and, at worst, an innings-eater. I make that deal every time.
PG Score: 9/10
Trade #3: Adam Duvall to Atlanta for Alex Jackson
The penultimate Marlins trade this season occurred when they sent outfielder Adam Duvall back to the Atlanta Braves for catcher Alex Jackson.
Finally. A catcher. Someone, anyone, to inject some life into what is, by far, the worst group of professional catchers in Major League Baseball. Duvall was in the same situation as Yimi and Starling: good player who probably won't be back next season. Might as well get something out of him instead of keeping him for the final two months of a lost season. In return, Miami gets Jackson, a 25-year-old catcher who has fizzled in three cups of coffee in the Majors, but whose talent is undeniable.
I wouldn't doubt that Duvall signs with the Braves after the season. He was a Marlin-killer when he played with them from '18-'20, and he will probably continue to be if he's still in Atlanta. If you're going to trade within your division, I think a guy with elite defense and 22 jacks should command a higher price tag than Alex Jackson, as talented as he is. That's what knocks this trade down a notch or two in my eyes.
I think Jackson will eventually come into his own against MLB pitching. He won't hit for a high average, but he'll hit for power and get on base at a decent clip. I'm told he's improved behind the plate since the last time I saw him (former teammate of mine, whoop whoooop). Maybe his glove/arm will provide even more value for the Marlins.
PG Score: 6.25/10
Trade #4: John Curtiss to Milwaukee for Payton Henry
Derek Jeter and Kim Ng made one final trade before the deadline, shipping reliever John Curtis to the Milwaukee Brewers for catcher Payton Henry.
Another catcher?!?! Be still, my beating heart! Henry, like Jackson, has some pop and can get on base. His average hovered around the .240 range for his first three professional seasons, though he seems to be finding more holes this season (.290 through 200 PA in Double- and Triple-A). Scouts like his all-around game on defense, so that should afford him plenty of opportunities. My gut tells me Jackson will produce more at the plate, while Henry's glove will prove superior behind the plate. He recently turned 24. I'm excited about him.
Curtiss won't be a free agent 'til 2026, so it's a little tough to give up so many years of control. He also had a 2.48 ERA and 166 ERA+ for Miami across 40 innings this season. But the organization is overflowing with pitching. Payton Henry has the makings of a solid MLB backstop. Curtiss's 3.21 FIP and Baseball Savant page suggest he's been a bit lucky this season. The Marlins should be well-equipped to fill out their bullpen with competent pieces if and when they need to.
This was a solid deal.
PG Score: 7.25/10
Overall PG Score: 7/10
Ta' bueno ya. Enough is enough. Time to shift gears. Whatever saying you like that says it's time for the Miami Marlins to be good next season, that should be the 2022 slogan. Next year will mark the fifth season with Jeter at the helm as CEO, and Kim Ng's second as GM. Their feet should be plenty wet. The team has pitching for days. Young hitters are finally showing signs of life at the big league level. Major contributors will come off the injured list. It's a loaded free agent class. They have plenty of money coming off the books. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say 2022 is kind of a make-or-break season for this front office.
So let's see something, Derek. Show me what's up, Kim. They can't afford to be sellers much longer, as their young, excellent, controllable (cheap) starting pitchers will soon command a high price tag. The time is now, folks. I was satisfied overall with the job they did at the 2021 trade deadline, but 2022 just has to be different, right?
Put simply, it's high time the Miami Marlins don't suck ass.