Miami Marlins Finally Make A Splash, Trade Pablo Lopez

MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins pitch in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at loanDepot park on September 20, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 20: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins pitch in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at loanDepot park on September 20, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

The Miami Marlins finally made a splash this offseason to fix their offense, dealing Pablo Lopez to the Twins for Luis Arraez.

Well, the Miami Marlins finally did it.

After weeks, if not months, of rumors surrounding Miami’s starting rotation, the club finally pulled the trigger on a deal. Pablo Lopez is on his way to the Minnesota Twins, and 2022 AL batting champion Luis Arraez is on his way to Miami.

For the Marlins, such a move just made too much sense not to make. The organization has had one clear strength the past three seasons, as it gradually amassed arguably the deepest arsenal of desirable starting pitching in the majors. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t remotely keeping up, and given Miami’s payroll constraints, a trade of this nature was the only way to make a major upgrade at the plate heading into 2023.

And what an upgrade it could end up being for the Marlins.

Arraez was a 4.4 WAR player in 2022, batting .316 and reaching base at .375 clip. That leads all 2022 Marlins hitters by a mile. He was an All-Star, and earned a Silver Slugger at the utility spot. That roster flexibility will be essential as he joins a Marlins infield that was still a bit crowded even after dealing away longtime shortstop Miguel Rojas last week. While he is capable of playing second and third, most of his playing time in 2022 came at either first base or designated hitter. Meaning that unless another trade is in the works (and it probably is), this could be a bizarre case where it might take a few weeks of spring training for fans to have a clear sense of where their biggest offseason acquisition is actually going to play.

Then again, he didn’t spend more than 65 games at any position last season. So that lack of a clear home might not matter much to the Marlins.

What is clear is that he will be in the lineup every day he is available, and is the most impactful move yet in Miami’s attempt to jump start their offense by becoming more contact oriented. After all, Arraez only hit 8 home runs last season. This is a player whose job will be getting on base and moving runners over, a task that was an extremely tall order for the Marlins last season.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to watch for will be whether he bats first or second in the lineup for Miami. Arraez batted primarily leadoff for the Twins, but that was the preferred 2022 home of the Marlins’ one offensive star in Jazz Chisholm. On paper, Chisholm’s power potential should slide him down to second. But speed wise, there’s no contest that Jazz should remain on top. How manager Skip Schumaker decides to handle that remains to be seen.

Downsides for the Marlins? Arraez’s lack of pop does sting a bit. Not nearly as much though as losing a person like Lopez. A fan favorite, and regular nominee for the Roberto Clemente award, he was just (and remains) a great person. He was also 2022 NL Cy Young winner and Miami ace Sandy Alcantara’s best friend on the team. Making that kind of move absolutely has the potential to rankle the face of the franchise. Marlins fans can only hope that Alcantara’s blessing was secured before making this move.

Lastly, the other major player going to Minnesota in this deal was Jose Salas, a shortstop prospect that has flown up the Marlins prospect board the past couple of years. Pick a prospect ranking, and he’s Top 5. As for position players, he really had no peers in the system. That’s a big investment on Miami’s part, and says a lot about their faith in the trio of middle infielders they’ve acquired in deals made going back to last summer’s Trade Deadline.

Those few quibbles aside, though, there’s really nothing to fault. The Marlins had to make a move. They also remain more than one piece (or three) even now from a World Series run- which makes them all the wiser for not blowing up the farm completely for a Bryan Reynolds trade. Granted, an essentially one for one trade (MLB ready talent wise) like this keeps alive the possibility of another deal happening between now and July. Overnight, Miami’s offense just got much more dangerous.

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At long last, Kim Ng and the Marlins made their big swing. Here’s hoping they connect.