Diamondbacks outfielder/infielder Ketel Marte presents a particularly attractive set of skills. He has ability to man multiple, up-the-middle defensive positions while being a star-level offensive player. The 28-year-old has at least 160 career starts apiece at second base, shortstop, and center field.
In recent years, Marte has been inarguably one of the best hitters in the sport. Among players with at least 1,000 plate appearances since the start of 2019, he is tied with the Rays’ Brandon Lowe for 10th in Adjusted OPS (139 OPS+). That’s better than marquee names like Pete Alonso, Matt Olson, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Ronald Acūna Jr.
For more context, the highest current Marlins in that category are Brian Anderson and Avisaíl García—they’re tied for 86th place with a 109 OPS+. As much as the team improved with its pre-lockout moves, there’s still the need for an established, cornerstone run producer.
A storyline surrounding Marte for the better part of two seasons now has been not whether the Diamondbacks will trade him, but who they’ll wind up trading him to.
The 2022 season is Marte’s final guaranteed year on what has proven to be a team-friendly 5-year, $24M contract with Arizona. But there are also a pair of club options attached to the end of the deal for 2023 ($10M) and 2024 ($12M). Given what we saw two middle infielders get paid big prior to the lockout—Corey Seager (10 years/$325M) and Marcus Semien (7 years/$175M), both to the retooling Texas Rangers—this suggests it could run a team an arm and a leg to trade for the efficiently priced Marte.
One team with a noted interest in Marte’s services: the Miami Marlins. Either at second or center, his exceptional bat would be a boon for their offense.
What would it take for Miami to pry Marte away from the rebuilding D-backs? Brace yourself: a slight overpay is required for a player with this combo of talent and track record.
In only 64 games in 2021, Jesús Sánchez hit 14 home runs (.808 OPS, 116 OPS+) and amassed 4 DRS in right field, so suffice to say, he’s due for everyday playing time. From Arizona’s perspective, he is a better fit for their competitive window than Marte. Although he’d be a painful loss for the Marlins, their acquisition of Avisaíl García on a 4-year deal and their next wave of outfielders in the high minors can fill his shoes.
Max Meyer brisked through AA and AAA in his first taste of pro ball (2.27 ERA, 10.5 K/9 in 111.0 IP) and is practically big-league ready. The influx of arms already clamoring for innings in Miami’s rotation makes parting with the former top draft pick an easier blow to stand.
Pitch-by-pitch of Max Meyer at the Futures Game pic.twitter.com/a4LLwQYEzW— Ely Sussman (@RealEly) July 11, 2021
The defensive alignment with this new Marlins personnel could take several forms. An unorthodox one that merits some consideration: moving Jazz Chisholm Jr. to center field. This isn’t the first time we have posed the idea.
Marte faced some adversities in center in 2021, accruing minus-15 defensive runs saved in only 567 1⁄3 innings at the position (zero represents league average). For his career, he has been worth -13 DRS in 1,289 innings at the position. Meanwhile, defensive metrics love Marte as a second baseman. He’s at +20 DRS lifetime. Similarly, Total Zone (Rtot) credits him with 19 runs above average while agreeing that he is not well-suited for center (-5 Rtot).
Although it would be a challenge to teach Chisholm a position that he has never played before, he possesses a lot of the traits that translate to center field success (as Fish Stripes will explore further in an upcoming article).
An important byproduct of this solution: keeping García in right, where he was worth 8 DRS last season in Milwaukee. Like Marte, he’d be a candidate for CF in emergencies, but his history there is discouraging (-10 DRS, -14 Rtot).
The Marlins and Diamondbacks have collaborated on splashy trades in recent years. This could be the most consequential one of them all if Ketel Marte is truly available.
Jesús Sánchez and Max Meyer for Ketel Marte?
This poll is closed
Marlins say no
Diamondbacks say no
Both teams say no