Months of rumors about the Marlins’ rotation finally resulted in some action, as the Marlins traded right-hander pablo lopezbest infield prospect Jose Salas and field prospectus byron chorio to the Twins in exchange for the reigning American League batting champion Luis Arraezaccording to announcements from both clubs.
The core of the trade, for immediate purposes, will see the Twins trade three years of Arraez, the reigning AL batting champion, for two seasons of Lopez, who will immediately be an upgrade to their rotation. The 26-year-old Lopez has developed into a quality starter in the majors over the past three seasons, pitching to a 3.52 ERA with a 25% strikeout rate, a 7% walk rate and a 47.4% ground ball in 340 innings.
Lopez has dealt with some injury issues in his career, landing three times on the disabled list due to shoulder strains. The most recent of those three injuries came in the summer of 2021 and wiped out more than two months of Lopez’s season, but he was injury-free in 2022 when he pitched a career-high 180 innings in 32 starts. Last year’s performance earned Lopez a still eminently affordable salary of $5.45 million. He’s owed one more arbitration raise in the 2023-24 offseason before hitting free agency after the 2024 season, barring an extension, of course.
Newly acquired Lopez will enter a Twins rotation that also includes sonny gray, joe ryan Y tyler mahle. Although it was easy to wonder if Lopez could push Kenta Maeda In a bullpen role after missing the entire 2022 season following internal brace surgery on his right elbow in September 2021, The Athletic’s Dan Hayes tweets that Maeda will continue to be the owner.
The most likely outsider outside of the conventional five-man rotation is a 27-year-old. bailey ober, but the towering right-hander has pitched with a 3.82 ERA in 31 starts to begin his major league career, including a 3.21 mark in 56 innings last season. (Ober missed more than three months with a severe groin strain.) Alternatively, the Twins could look to field a six-man rotation that would help them handle Maeda’s workload and hopefully lead to better health among a starting staff usually hampered by injury throughout the season. 2022.
Meanwhile, with Arraez now removed from the Twins’ lineup, they will lose their leadoff hitter, one of their best hitters and one of their top options at first base and designated hitter. His departure probably opens the door for a 25-year-old alex kirilloff to enter as primary first baseman. Kirilloff, a former first-round pick, was ranked as one of the top 10 to 15 prospects in the game before his major league debut, but has now had wrist surgery in each of the past two seasons, that derailed the beginning of his career. There’s quite a bit of upside there, but also quite a bit of risk. It’s always possible that the Twins will look to add another established hitter to help soften the blow of losing Arraez, but the first base and designated hitter markets in free agency have largely been picked, so if that’s the route they choose, you probably have to. they come through another trade.
On the other side of the trade, the Marlins will get a left-handed bat to help balance out a heavily right-handed lineup. Arraez brings to Miami perhaps the most impeccable hitting skills in the majors, having struck out in just 8.3% of his plate appearances since making his debut at age 22 in 2019. He doesn’t walk at an especially fast pace, but Arraez’s mark of 8.7% is still higher than his league average strikeout rate and walk rate from last season of 8.2%.
Arraez, 26 in April, hit .316/.375/.420 with a career-high eight home runs in 2022 and is a career .314/.374/.410 hitter in the majors. His contact skills are second to none and will probably always allow him to hit for a high average, but the rest of his game is pretty limited. Arraez lacks power, as evidenced by his career ISO of .096 (slugging minus batting average), and his average career velocity is below average, according to Statcast.
Although he made his debut as a second baseman, defensive problems have left Arraez a nomad with no position. He has bounced between second base, first base, third base and left field, turning up mediocre defensive ratings in each of those spots except first base. That could well be his new position in Miami, given the presence of Jazz Chisholm Jr. at second base and Juan Segura at third base.
Like Lopez, Arraez has some troubling injury issues on his resume. A torn ACL during his prospect days torched his 2017 season, and he’s been on the disabled list three times since Opening Day 2020 due to knee issues as well. Arraez also spent a week on the 7-day concussion disabled list in 2021 and missed nearly three weeks of that season with a shoulder strain.
Arraez is eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason and, as a Super Two player, still has two years of arbitration remaining beyond the current season. He and the Twins were unable to reach an agreement before last week’s deadline to trade arbitration figures; the Twins came up with a $5MM mark, while Arraez’s camp responded with a $6.1MM showdown. Now that he’s with a new team, it’s possible Arraez could agree to a one-year deal somewhere in between, or maybe even discuss a longer deal. Otherwise, his subsequent arbitration raises will push his salary above $10MM by his final year of control of the club, in 2025.
For the Marlins, removing Lopez from the rotation positions them to field a starting five of alcantara sand, Jesus Luzardo, trevor rogers, edward cabrera Y braxton garrett, with several intriguing arms still waiting in the wings behind that quintet. Arraez will deepen and strengthen what has been a lackluster Miami lineup, and the organization’s rotation depth is strong enough to withstand the loss of Lopez.
However, there is little doubt that the defense will suffer as much from the acquisition of Arraez as from last week’s trade for miguel rojas. The Marlins will now need to play Chisholm, Segura or joey wendle at shortstop, and Arraez’s installation at first base pushes garrett cooper to the designated hitter or to a corner of the outfield. If Cooper is the preferred option in DH, that will boost Jorge Soler back to the gardens. All signs point to someone like Bryan de la Cruz, who is best suited for the corner job, again being poorly cast as a center fielder. Overall, the tactic of removing Rojas and adding Arraez in the name of balancing and improving the lineup could have the unfortunate side effect of turning Miami from an average defensive club to one of the worst in the National League.
The prospects in the deal are long-term plays for the Twins, making them somewhat curious supporting pieces for a team that’s clearly betting on immediate contention in the wake of their surprising re-signing deal. carlos correa. That said, the recent trades of Mahle, Gray and others have thinned out the Twins’ system considerably, so filling in some young talent helps cross the building line both in the short and long term.
Salas is particularly well-regarded, originally signing for a $2.8MM bonus and currently ranked fourth in the Miami system on Baseball America. He’s a shortstop at the moment, though BA’s scouting report suggests a move to third base is possible, depending on how much he grows out of his still-lean frame. The switch-hitting Salas hit .250/.339/.384 against much older competition in 2022, splitting the year between Class-A and Class-A Advanced even though he only turned 19 last April.
Salas hit nine home runs and stole 33 bases in 109 games. Scouting reports on Salas tout his work ethic, his sense of contact and the potential for at least average power. He’ll immediately become one of the Twins’ top overall prospects, but he won’t add any value to their 2023 club (other than perhaps giving them more flexibility when it comes to negotiating additional trades).
Chourio is even younger, having just signed as an amateur outside of Venezuela a year and five days ago. Despite playing the season at just 17 years old, the switch-hitting outfielder took the Dominican Summer League by storm, racking up a .344/.429/.410 average with one home run, nine doubles, 19 steals and nearly as many hits. walks (25) and strikeouts (27) in 217 plate appearances.
Chourio won’t even turn 18 until May, so even wildly optimistic projections would have him three years away from being a legitimate major league possibility, and it’s very likely even further. Still, there’s a lot to like about him despite the lack of proximity to the big leagues. In addition to his flashy pro debut, Baseball America’s Ben Badler praised Chourio’s physical projection, strong throwing arm, center field instincts and balanced swing when reviewing the Marlins’ international signing class last year. past.
Today’s trade ends months of speculation and rumors about Lopez, who finally knows where he will spend at least the next two seasons of his career. It remains possible, given Miami’s depth and the needs they have elsewhere on the roster, that they could further leverage that group in an effort to bolster the lineup and reshape an increasingly questionable defense. On the Twins’ end of things, Lopez isn’t clearly better than any of their inside options, but they’ll add another mid-rotation arm to a starting corps with plenty of comparable talent, helping guard against injury and adding some stability beyond that. this season, when Gray, Mahle and Maeda can all become free agents. They will also restock a farm system that has been taxed by recent trades, but the trade feels more like the next step than the final piece of an offseason puzzle.
Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes of The Athletic first reported the two teams were moving towards a deal involving Arraez and López. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported the deal was done. SportsGrid’s Craig Mish and the Miami Herald reported the names of the two prospects who returned to Minnesota (Twitter links).