The Marlins have found their primary catcher for the 2022 season (and possibly beyond), acquiring Jacob Stallings from the Pirates in a three-for-one trade. Stallings will cost them a package of Zach Thompson, Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott. The trade was officially completed early Monday evening.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic broke the news first and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman identified all the players involved.
Stallings is a veteran of six major league seasons, though 2021 was his first crack at being a semi-regular starter over the course of a full-length campaign. He posted 3.0 rWAR/2.6 fWAR in 112 games and won National League Gold Glove honors. Most notably, he allowed zero passed balls in 892 innings behind the plate.
Offensively, his best quality is pitch recognition. He produces adequately against fastballs, breaking balls and offspeed stuff, and takes those pitches when they’re outside the zone (career 10.0% walk rate).
Many of you probably recall that Stallings was incredible with the bat when facing the Marlins at PNC Park in June. He went 4-for-12 with 6 RBI, including a walk-off single. The Pirates may have swept that four-game series had he not rested for the finale.
Stallings had spent his entire professional career in the Pirates organization, originally selected as their seventh-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft out of the University of North Carolina. In both 2020 and 2021, he was the team’s nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award due to his “extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
Entering his age-32 season, Stallings will be eligible for arbitration for the first time next year. MLB Trade Rumors projects him for a $2.6 million salary, almost identical to Jorge Alfaro ($2.7 million), who is widely expected to be traded or non-tendered in the coming hours. Stallings has two more years of club control beyond that (through the 2024 season).
Craig Mish of SportsGrid confirms that Alfaro trade talks are already underway.
There isn’t a clear-cut “centerpiece” of the package going to the Bucs. Baseball Trade Values estimates that Thompson carries the most surplus value coming off a good though uneven rookie season (3.24 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.21 WHIP in 75.0 IP). Fish Stripes’ own Spencer Morris says Scott has the most upside if everything breaks right for him. Personally, I worry that Nicolas is the biggest threat to haunt the Marlins in future years—his fastball/slider combo was often overpowering in 2021 before and after his promotion to Double-A.
At the time of the trade, I had Nicolas and Scott ranked as the 14th and 20th overall prospects in the Marlins farm system, respectively. Thompson is the only outgoing player who had been on the Marlins 40-man roster.
Congrats to Mish, by the way—for months, he has been a LOUD advocate for Miami to get Stallings. Celebrate responsibly!