Marte on the move: Marlins add lefty Luzardo for Starling Marte

Marte on the move: Marlins add lefty Luzardo for Starling Marte


By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

The looming question about what’s next for Starling Marte has been answered.

A couple of days before the Trade Deadline, the Miami Marlins on Wednesday announced they’ve dealt Marte to the Oakland A’s for left-hander Jesus Luzardo, a South Florida native who has plenty of promise as well as some question marks. Additionally, the Marlins are paying off the remainder of Marte’s salary for the 2021 season, which is more than $4 million.

This is an interesting and solid baseball trade.

On the surface, the initial reaction is a positive one for the Marlins, who parlayed a rental into a 23-year-old lefty who won’t be eligible for free agency until 2026.

The other positive for the Marlins is they’ve added another layer of starter depth, which is needed, especially now with Pablo Lopez and Trevor Rogers both on the injured list. In the Minor Leagues, Sixto Sanchez had surgery this summer, and Edward Cabrera, who has plenty of upside, is recovering from injury.

MO2 has made it clear since Spring Training that there are concerns over how the Marlins would cover innings over 162 games. Those concerns still exist. Now, bringing in Luzardo helps address that issue.

What we’re happy about is the Marlins continue to prioritize pitching. They may end up trading some of their depth for position players. Now, perhaps that could be handled if they move a reliever or two prior to Friday’s deadline.

“We’ve been an organization that’s been built around pitching,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said on Wednesday. “To get a guy like that back at the Trade Deadline with huge potential is obviously a nice get for us.”

Could the Marlins have gotten more for Marte? It’s hard to say. In recent days, more teams have moved from leaning buyers to sellers. The Nationals had recently been looking to add, but after struggling, they now are open for business to subtract. The Yankees also aren’t as all in as they were a month ago. They were a club interested in Marte. But what they were willing to offer, according to MO2 sources, wasn’t much.

Yankees shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe is considered “untouchable.” Without anything tempting, the Marlins moved on from their talks with New York.

Teams like the Phillies don’t have a deep system, which hurts their ability to trade.

The Trade Deadline is Friday, and the Marlins continued to deal. Per reports, they’re sending closer Yimi Garcia to the Houston Astros for Triple-A outfielder Bryan De La Cruz, and right-hander Austin Pruitt. The 24-year-old outfielder, statistically, is hitting .324/.362/.518 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs.

Moving Marte has been the Marlins’ No. 1 storyline for a couple of months. There were discussions about reaching an extension with Marte. But those plans fell apart, making a trade inevitable for the 32-year-old center fielder who is eligible for free agency in the offseason.

The A’s upgrade for the now. The Marlins get a left-hander who has a chance to be part of the rotation.

Luzardo is local, which is appealing to MO2, which focuses on “all things” Florida-related to baseball.

A graduate of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Luzardo was a third-round pick of the Nationals in 2016.

He reached the big leagues in 2019, and has thrown a combined 6 1/3 innings in a Wild Card appearances in 2019-20. So, he’s playoff tested.

Luzardo brings plenty of velocity. According to Statcast, his four-seam fastball averages 96 mph, and his sinker averages 95.1 mph. He also throws a curveball (84.2 mph average), and changeup (86.6 mph).

All the “stuff” metrics look really good, right?

MO2 sources see him as a back of the rotation starter, or perhaps a swing man. At worst, he can fill a bullpen role. This is still a pretty good return for a rental. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has worked wonders with pitchers with less overall stuff, so this should be interesting how he’s handled.

So why then would the A’s part with a promising lefty rotation piece for a rental? Because Luzardo is hardly a sure bet.

Yes, if you’re the Marlins you take the risk. But a caution to those who think he automatically will be a fixture in the rotation based on past prospect hype, here’s a little perspective.

Luzardo has struggled this year. In 13 games, with six starts for Oakland, his ERA is 6.87. In 38 innings, he has 40 strikeouts, and his WHIP is 1.63.

This year, he missed time with a fractured left hand. The injury occurred while he was playing a video game.

The A’s optioned him to Triple-A in June, and in eight games, his ERA is 6.52 with 26 strikeouts and 15 walks in 29 innings.

Clearly, the Marlins see Luzardo as a young, talented starter who could benefit with a change of scenery. Now, he returns home, and has a chance to regroup, and recapture the form that once made him a highly-touted prospect.

As for Marte, the veteran will pursue the playoffs out in Oakland. A year ago, he proved to be a tremendous pickup, helping the Marlins reach the postseason.

“Obviously, Star last year,” Mattingly said. “The acquisition and the timing of it, we felt like he was a big part of pushing us forward, and giving us that boost to make a playoff run. Obviously, he just continued on this year. He’s a guy our players respect. He’s respected throughout the game, the way he handles himself. The way he goes about his business. He’s been a total positive for us as an organization.”

Comments are closed.