For the fourth time already in 2020, the Marlins have completed a trade to revamp the edges of their roster, acquiring Yankees left-hander Stephen Tarpley on Wednesday afternoon for infield prospect James Nelson and cash considerations. Feel-good story Brian Moran, who made his long-awaited MLB debut last September, has been designated for assignment.
The soon-to-be 27-year-old Tarpley has worked mainly in relief in pinstripes with replacement-level production (5.88 ERA, 4.77 FIP, 3.96 xFIP in 33.2 IP during 2018-2019 combined). His platoon splits—albeit in a tiny sample size—leap off the screen: career .506 OPS vs. LHB, 1.108 OPS vs. RHB. He’ll get a chance to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, but also has two minor league options remaining.
Tarpley relies heavily on his slider. Both his sinker and four-seam fastball averaged 92.5 mph last season, according to Statcast. He’s capable of throwing a curveball and changeup as well, but seldom uses them when relieving.
Nelson was the 2017 Marlins Minor League Player of the Year after thriving with Low-A Greensboro at age 19.
But he suffered a meniscus injury shortly before the start of the 2018 season and has been overmatched in the Florida State League ever since (.222/.273/.290, 6 HR in 723 PA with poor defense at 3B). The Georgia native is the nephew of Chris Nelson, who played briefly for the Yankees in 2013.
This exchange becomes a clearer “win” for the Marlins if Moran, 31, passes through waivers unclaimed and gets outrighted to the minors (therefore remaining with the organization). The journeyman southpaw struck out more than 30% of batters faced in his 60 innings with Triple-A New Orleans to earn his first-ever call-up. Useful depth piece.
Even if this proves to be the end of Moran’s stint in Miami, at least we got to enjoy that unique “family reunion” with younger brother Colin:
This marks the third trade involving these teams since ex-Yankees Derek Jeter and Gary Denbo joined the Fish as baseball decision-makers in the fall of 2017.
Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith were acquired in exchange for Mike King and international bonus pool money. Cooper is in the mix for first base and corner outfield playing time in 2020 while Smith has a steady hold on a starting rotation spot. Neither of them are arbitration eligible yet. The right-hander King enjoyed an outstanding minor league season in 2018 and made his major league debut for the Bombers last September.
And then a few months later, the blockbuster: Starlin Castro, Jorge Guzman and José Devers for Giancarlo Stanton. Castro has since moved on to the Nationals. Guzman and Devers will attend Marlins major league spring training next month. Stanton barely played in 2019 due to various injuries and still has $244 million remaining on his contract (Miami will pay $30 million of that).