James Hoyt lasted less than eight months with the Miami Marlins as the club announced Monday night that he’s been traded to the Angels for cash considerations.
It’s always difficult to anticipate specific trades at this time of year, but the Hoyt move isn’t particularly surprising. Craig Mish of the Miami Herald and Swings and Mishes reported earlier in the day that he would not have a spot on the Opening Day active roster.
Last season at age 33, Hoyt played a crucial role in solidifying the Marlins bullpen in the aftermath of their COVID-19 outbreak. The tall right-hander has an unconventional style, relying heavily on his slider (67.2% of his total pitches). It worked to the tune of a 1.23 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 1.16 WHIP in 14 2⁄3 innings, including a scoreless streak that spanned from Aug. 15 through the end of the regular season. Manager Don Mattingly loved calling on him to escape mid-inning jams—15 of his 24 appearances involved inherited baserunners.
Unfortunately, Hoyt looked very uneasy throughout 2021 spring training. He allowed 11 baserunners in 6 1⁄3 Grapefruit League innings. Small sample size, of course, but the spin rate on his bread-and-butter slider had dropped dramatically, from an average of 2,744 RPM last season to 2,367 RPM in spring games tracked by Statcast (51 sliders).
The Marlins could have optioned Hoyt in hopes that he’d find his groove again. However, this transaction comes with the perk of opening up a spot on their 40-man roster. They reportedly don’t have plans to fill it immediately, but this clears the way for impressive NRI Anthony Bender to make his big league debut in the near future. Bender will begin the regular season in the Fish Tank (alternate training site), according to Mish.
Also on Monday, the Marlins officially optioned Sixto Sánchez and Isan Díaz as expected. Assuming no setbacks, Sánchez will join their starting rotation within the next two weeks once he’s fully stretched out for a starter’s workload.