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Marlins trade for Louis Head, DFA Brian Miller

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It’s the third time in 2021 that Florida’s MLB teams have hooked up to make a deal with each other.

Louis Head #58 of the Tampa Bay Rays attempts to pick off first base during a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Marlins seemingly have a fetish for right-handed Rays relievers. Just like John Curtiss and David Hess earlier this year, Louis Head is moving from Tampa Bay to Miami via trade. The Fish will be surrendering a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange, as announced Sunday night.

The 31-year-old Head was one of Major League Baseball’s oldest rookies in 2021. Despite constantly being shuttled between the Rays active roster and their Triple-A Durham affiliate, he thrived out of the bullpen.

Louis Head’s 2021 MLB/MiLB stats
Louis Head’s 2021 MLB/MiLB stats
Baseball-Reference

Head’s got a simple pitch mix, using his fastball 52.4% of the time and his slider 47.1% while up in the majors. He finished the regular season on a hot streak—seven straight scoreless appearances (9.1 IP)—but wasn’t utilized during Tampa Bay’s postseason run.

Adding some legitimacy to his 2.31 earned run average, Head posted a 2.94 xERA and 3.11 FIP for the Rays. There was some good fortune involved, as his 5.04 xFIP and .216 BABIP suggests. However, his extreme fly ball tendencies aren’t necessarily something to panic about—he induced a high percentage of harmless pop-ups.

It’s too soon to project whether or not Head will make Miami’s 2022 Opening Day roster. He has two more minor league option years remaining.

Baseball Trade Values likes this pick-up for the Marlins. Their formula gave Head a median estimate of $2.1 million of surplus value, far exceeding the typical PTBNL.

In a corresponding move to create room for Head on their 40-man roster, the Marlins designated Brian Miller for assignment ($0.6 million on BTV).

The former 2017 Comp Round A draft pick slashed .284/.338/.360 in parts of four minor league seasons. During that span, he led all Marlins MiLB players with 119 stolen bases (at an above-average 76.8% success rate). He moved up rapidly to Double-A before his hitting took a sharp turn for the worse.

Yes, the likelihood of Miller becoming an impactful major leaguer is low, but the Marlins weren’t interested in giving him a fair shake, regardless. For all but six days of the 2021 season, he bided his time at Triple-A Jacksonville while Magneuris Sierra clogged a roster spot. Sierra has a better throwing arm, while Miller has more usable game power, though there are otherwise many similarities between their skill sets.

Sierra’s time with the Marlins came to an end earlier this month. Miller’s might as well—the other 29 MLB teams now have a week to trade for him or claim him off waivers.