2021 Trade Deadline Gives Miami Marlins Mixed Results

Miami, Florida – The trade deadline has passed and now that the dust settled, the Miami Marlins were involved in no less than four moves by Friday evening. Their haul was two catchers, an outfielder, and a southpaw. Out of all the transactions made, only one I truly liked. As expected, Starling Marte was moved (although the suitor was a surprise) with Miguel Rojas and Jesús Aguilar staying put. Miami also shipped out Adam Duvall, Yimi García, and John Curtiss.

There was talk of a big trade in the final hours before the deadline but it never materialized. Reports say the team pursued Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Bryan Reynolds but the asking price was too high: three of Miami’s top guys. There were also discussions with the Los Angeles Angels for a blockbuster move in the desire of acquiring a strong centerfield prospect. Had it gone through, at minimum the Marlins would have acquired top outfielder Brandon Marsh in exchange for Max Meyer.

I’ll commend them on the effort of acquiring some bats, especially since these are names to keep in mind for the offseason, but this past trade deadline was largely a disappointment. Firstly because we were sellers. Secondly, despite liking some of the talent brought in I still wasn’t wowed by it. Let’s start on the deal I liked the most: the Marte trade.

Being sellers from the cellar

The Oakland Athletics were not previously linked to Starling Marte as a potential trade destination. From this, the Fish got left-hander Jesús Luzardo, a former top overall prospect who has struggled this year. Back in 2020, Luzardo went 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA in nine starts for the A’s. Through 59 innings pitched he had just as many strikeouts brandishing a good 1.27 WHIP. However, fast-forwarding to now the 23-year-old has done poorly both in the majors (2-4, 6.87 ERA) and at Triple-A Las Vegas (2-2, 6.52 ERA).

The A’s might have decided he was not going to fulfill their expectations considering they just traded for a rental.

Given the way Miami has developed the pitching staff, I am being cautiously optimistic. Maybe a change of scenery will do the youngster some good. The lefty still has plenty of upside given his age with the ceiling yet to be determined. Moving a 32-year-old veteran made sense for the organization since they obtained a young pitcher. For the folks wondering why we chased another arm, it’s because you can never have too many prospects. It provides the front office with stock to trade.

Now, we move onto the Yimi García exchange. Shipping out their closer, the Marlins received 24-year-old outfielder Bryan De La Cruz who has been inserted directly into the lineup. For good reason too. De La Cruz was slashing .324/.362/.518 in Triple-A with 12 HRs and 50 RBIs. Here comes the rub though. He has the potential to be an everyday starter but he’s projected to be the No. 4 outfielder in the depth chart. De La Cruz looks likely to platoon with Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, and Magneuris Sierra. Does he still sound appealing to you? Hopefully, his success in the minors translates to the big show.

“Addressing” needs

I was OK with moving García because we traded a serviceable reliever for a young bat. A guy that can shore up a very depleted outfield now that they got rid of Marte, Duvall, and Dickerson. Not to mention the Marlins are without Jesús Sánchez due to COVID. Garrett Cooper is also out, opting for season-ending surgery on his left elbow. Good thing J. J. Bleday and Griffin Conine are in the pipeline.

This is where it goes downhill. In trading Adam Duvall and John Curtiss, the Marlins acquired two catchers from the Braves and Brewers. Miami added depth to the catcher position but did not address their needs there. They merely added two new faces nothing more. Alex Jackson, a former first-round draft pick, was the number 22 prospect in the Braves farm system according to Baseball America. In 2021 he’s alright in Triple-A (.287/.366/.694) but hasn’t done much when he gets called up slashing .043/.214/.043 in 23 at-bats. Granted, his MLB numbers (including a high 46%  strikeout rate) are based on a tiny sample size. His viability is his defensive abilities behind the plate.

Not the kind of catcher I would be looking for but okay, let’s give him a fair shot.

Then we got Payton Henry from Milwaukee. The 24-year-old is a bat-first type with raw power being his main selling point. He was rated within Baseball America’s Top 30 prospects for the Brewers minor league system from 2018-20 but that no longer remains the case. In 2021, Henry displayed almost no slugging aptitude recording only a pair of homers (Double-A and Triple-A combined) in 172 at-bats down on the farm. He slashed .262/.338/.361 over in Nashville while significantly cutting down his K rate. At least he’s got that going for him.

Final Thoughts

It’s not like the Marlins were going to get top-tier players with the likes of rentals. Generally speaking, they flipped those approaching free agency for younger prospects. In doing so they did deepen their pitching talent which can serve as a basis for getting bats in the offseason (see Zac Gallen for Jazz Chisholm). I just hoped for a better return. Speaking of, I haven’t seen the outfield so empty since the time we traded Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich in the 2017-2018 offseason. As far as I’m concerned Miami’s needs are the same as they’ve ever been, especially at catcher. Jorge Alfaro, someone the Fish are reportedly ready to move on from, is still above the two new guys.

I’m all for giving the newcomers their fair shot with a large sample size. Outside of Luzardo and MAYBE De La Cruz, however, my optimism is very guarded. So much so that if I were to grade this as a whole I’d give it a C minus. All that’s left of 2021 is essentially player evaluations. It is what it is.

Photo | Danis Sosa

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