Miami Marlins can’t afford to miss on a Pablo López trade

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 03: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a baseball game against at the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 03: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a baseball game against at the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

If the Miami Marlins make the momentous decision to trade Pablo López, they need to do so knowing the move comes with no margin for error.

The Miami Marlins are now on the clock.

Earlier this week, the news broke that Miami was casting off any allusions of trying to contend for anything this season and would be selling at the deadline. The scuttlebutt is that anyone not named Sandy Alcantara could be dealt, with multiple names previously viewed as off-limits now eligible to be sent packing for the right price. Foremost among them? No. 2 starter Pablo López.

Should the Miami Marlins actually pull the trigger on a López trade, it is absolutely essential that they get it right.

No margin for error. No missteps. Maybe Jeff Passan doesn’t actually write an epic poem to the Marlins’ brilliance, but you get the idea. The team has to be seen as clearly winning this deal. Clearly getting better. Partly, this is about the team’s track record of late when it comes to dealing their high profile stars. The Marcell Ozuna trade could end up being viewed as the best in franchise history, effectively netting two 2022 All-Stars in Sandy Alcantara and Jazz Chisholm Jr. The J.T. Realmuto, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich deals though? Big public whiffs in terms of bringing talent into the organization. The combined Marlins WAR of every player acquired in those Realmuto, Stanton, and Yelich deals is less than each of the players Miami acquired for Ozuna- even Magneuris Sierra.

Certainly, a López trade doesn’t have to match that Ozuna level of success. But it does have to make Miami better, and I would argue make Miami better as soon as Opening Day 2023.

Which very likely means that it needs to be experienced MLB talent coming back in the deal, and not just some highly touted prospect that might debut a year from now. An All-Star-caliber position player that immediately becomes the best hitter in the lineup this season, with the ceiling to even be better than Chisholm going forward. That’s going to be tough to obtain at this year’s deadline, but not impossible. The Blue Jays, one of the more popularly rumored suitors for López, have two players in Teoscar Hernandez and Gabriel Moreno that fit the bill.

From a purely baseball perspective, discounting prospects could be a mistake. After all, once upon a time the Marlins dealt Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell for a Red Sox prospect with two hitless games of MLB experience … and ended up getting one of the best players in team history in Hanley Ramirez. The thing is the Marlins had no intention of contending the next season when they made that trade. The upcoming season then was Year One of the rebuild, not Year Six. 

Fans aren’t going to be patient about that kind of thing.

Additionally, there’s the fact that in a recent interview with Bally Sports’ Jeremy Tache, franchise superstar Alcantara took about two seconds to answer a question about who his best friend on the team was. And that answer was Pablo López. That’s not to say the Marlins can’t trade López as a result. The two can always go fishing in the offseason or something, and it’s not like Alcantara is about to be a free-agent. However, it does feel fair to say that if the front office is going to cast aside their ace’s best friend, they’d better get the move right. It had better help get him to the playoffs. Soon.  

Bottom-line, López is an extremely likable player and the third-best pitcher the Marlins have had in the last decade. Letting him go is going to solicit a ton of those “same old Marlins” groans from pundits and fans alike. Probably even from a few veterans in the clubhouse. It won’t be popular, even if it might be necessary.

Next. How López developed his changeup into a nasty pitch. dark

Which makes it essential the Miami Marlins stick the landing here, and make the deal worth it.