The Luis Arraez Trade: Was it Inevitable or Avoidable?

Luis Arraez vs Giants 4/16/2024

Miami, Florida –Less than a year ago, Luis Arraez was entering the 2023 All-Star Break, leading the sport in hits (126) and batting average (.383) while flirting with a .400 batting average up until July. The Miami Marlins might have found their long-term second baseman/ leadoff hitter. Fast forward to May 2024, and the Marlins are 20 games under .500 and on the verge of another fire sale.

The first domino to fall was Luis Arraez, now donning a San Diego Padres jersey. The lousy record isn’t the main reason Arraez was dealt to San Diego, but it definitely expedited his departure. Miami received four prospects in return for Arraez, and now Marlins fans are again in another cycle of the “waiting game.” Waiting, hoping, and definitely praying for at least one of those prospects to develop into a respectable MLB player. Marlins fans know all too well how the prospects Miami received from the Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna, and Realmuto trades turned out.

With Luis Arraez out the door and most likely more trades to follow, Peter Bendix and the Marlins front office have made it very clear what the direction is for this franchise. Some fans might not like it, but this team did not have the long-term sustainability at the minor or major league level to replicate what they did last season on a consistent basis. It was looming, and maybe some Marlins fans did not want to admit it, but now it’s official; strap in because it’s time for another Marlins rebuild, but a necessary one. Let’s break down the trade and how Miami ended up trading one of the game’s premier hitters.

New Look Front Office

The Miami Marlins had a quiet offseason, which might be an understatement. Still, one of the moves that garnered attention was the departure of General Manager Kim Ng and the arrival of the new President of Baseball Operations, Peter Bendix. Bendix comes from the Tampa Bay Rays organization, starting as an intern in 2009 and working up the ladder to become the GM from 2021-2023.

It is no secret in the baseball community that the Rays are a small-market team that relies heavily on drafting, developing talent, and advanced analytics. The Marlins have been lacking in all three of those departments. With the offseason well behind us, Peter and Miami’s front office deeply dissected this team during that time. It’s not surprising anymore that their offseason only consisted of a couple of trades and one free-agent signing, Tim Anderson. At the time, fans were growing impatient and becoming irritated early into Bendix’s Marlins tenure, but in reality, this team had no foundation from which to build.

It did not make sense to continue pumping money into a team that barely made it to the playoffs last season, has one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and has no core of major league players to build around. That once-rich history of the Marlins developing young talent is in the rear-view mirror, and Peter has his hands full.

The Blueprint

You have to give Peter and the Marlins front office a chance, and I realize one free agent signing and trading Arraez is not the prettiest of ways to start your tenure, but this is the formula he is bringing to this franchise. The Rays have made the playoffs in the last five seasons in a row with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and are playing in one of the tougher divisions in baseball. Peter’s strategy has shown consistent winning with a core of young players while plugging in and out players to keep that core alive. The Houston Astros are another example of this model. They had a few years of rough seasons while getting high draft picks and developing them.

The Astros comparison can only go so far. Once they established their core, they spent a lot of money signing veterans to complement their young talent and look how that recipe turned out for them: eight postseason appearances in the last nine seasons and two World Series titles. Miami will never be a franchise with a payroll like Houston, or at least during the Bendix/ Sherman era, which is why the Rays comparison is more realistic.

Bendix is entering his role with Miami, working with scraps at the minor league level. It doesn’t help that last season’s trades at the deadline for Josh Bell and Jake Burger depleted an already weak farm system. One of their higher pitching prospects, Jake Eder, was dealt to the Chicago Whitesox for Burger, while shortstop Kahlil Watson had to be paired with Jean Segura to get Bell from the Cleveland Guardians.

Luis Arraez Trade: Inevitable

Four prospects is a decent haul for one player like Arraez, but it will take more than one trade to get Miami’s farm system to the level Tampa Bay is at. Veterans like Bell or younger players with upside like Jesus Luzardo will definitely be in trade talks the closer we get to this season’s deadline. Once all these trades have been made at the deadline or during the next offseason, the waiting game mentioned earlier begins. Hopefully, Miami can strike gold on a few of these prospects, but there’s no reason to go “whale hunting” in free agency anytime soon.

With no reason to spend money, the Luis Arraez trade was inevitable. He was going to be eligible for arbitration in 2025 and a free agent in 2026. Miami never really made a strong push to offer Arraez an extension while Kim Ng was at the helm, and it was very unlikely with Bendix and his “small market” approach. The only part of the trade that surprised many was the timing of it. Trading a player like Arraez in early May with plenty of time until the deadline was a bit head-scratching. According to Bendix, the Padres did their best Don Corleone impression and gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

On the verge of the dog days of summer, the Marlins are essentially out of any playoff race and are in for a long season. Their end-of-season trajectory is toward a top-five pick in this year’s MLB draft.

There’s a new approach and, hopefully, a new culture being built in Miami, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to convince this Miami fan base to come out to loanDepot Park. Good luck, Peter.

(Visited 34 times, 1 visits today)