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Marlins trade for RHP David Hess

The soon-to-be 28-year-old is back in the majors.

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher David Hess (41) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

For the third time in the last two calendar years, the Marlins and Rays have consummated a trade, although this latest move is likely to be the least impactful. The Fish announced Saturday that they have added right-hander David Hess while parting with minor league right-hander Justin Sterner and cash considerations.

Miami had a vacancy on the 40-man roster after designating Luis Marté for assignment earlier in the week (Marté has since cleared waivers and rejoined Triple-A Jacksonville). Hess now takes that final spot.

A former fifth-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles, Hess previously pitched for the O’s in the majors from 2018-2020. Four of his first five appearances in The Show were quality starts, but his effectiveness went downhill quickly from there. Overall, he has posted a career 5.86 ERA, 6.41 FIP and 1.47 WHIP in 190.1 IP. Even adjusting for the hitter-friendly conditions at Camden Yards, that’s a sub-replacement-level contribution.

Hess’ fastball velocity generally sits between 92-95 miles per hour. His main secondary pitch is his slider. I made a quick compilation of some slider swinging strikes from the 2019 season, set to the soundtrack of a 15-year-old Hess Truck commercial:

With Tampa Bay’s Triple-A Durham affiliate, Hess had been doing much better (2.81 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 1.03 WHIP in 32.0 IP), in particular limiting right-handed opponents to a .191/.236/.338 slash line. But as I’ve already mentioned on Fish Stripes several times this year, it’s awfully difficult to interpret minor league stats under 2021’s bizarre circumstances.—set modest expectations for him.

Hess is out of minor league options though potentially controllable all the way through the 2025 season if the Marlins can bring out the best in him. For the time being he joins Jesús Sánchez and John Curtiss on the active roster, both of whom were also acquired from the Rays in July 2019 and February 2021, respectively.

Hess has been assigned uniform No. 41, most notably worn by former Marlins Chris Volstad and Justin Bour. He was born in Pembroke Pines and will celebrate his 28th birthday next Saturday (July 10). He is among the few Marlins who regularly uses Twitter! Follow him at @hess_express28.

In his first professional season, Sterner had seen action as a reliever for Low-A Jupiter and High-A Beloit. A 2020 undrafted free agent, the BYU product recorded at least one strikeout in each of his 12 appearances for an outstanding 35.3% strikeout rate. On the other hand, he was struggling with his control (11 walks, four hit batsmen and two wild pitches in 20 13 innings pitched).

Jordan Holloway was optioned in a corresponding move to get Hess on the active roster. Barring an injury to one of his teammates, Holloway won’t be eligible to be recalled until after the All-Star break.