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Marlins trade Josh Roberson to Rays to complete Louis Head deal

One of the first transactions of the Marlins’ 2021-22 offseason finally has a resolution.

Miami Marlins relief pitcher Louis Head (38) throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies in the ninth inning at loanDepot Park. Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, the Marlins sent right-hander Josh Roberson to the Rays. He represents the player to be named later that they agreed to trade in exchange for Louis Head. The timing is not a coincidence—exactly six months have passed since the Head acquisition (November 14, 2021), which is the maximum time period that MLB teams are given to determine PTBNLs.

The Marlins drafted Roberson in 2017 out of UNC Wilmington. It took him a full year to make his professional debut as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery.

Roberson was trending in the right direction in late 2019 with the Low-A Clinton LumberKings. He finished their regular season with a streak of 17 23 consecutive scoreless innings and continued to build up his workload in the Midwest League playoffs.

Roberson was eligible for the 2020 Rule 5 Draft and the Marlins were intrigued enough to protect him from the minor league phase of the draft. He was even a non-roster invitee at 2021 Marlins spring training, though they reassigned him before using him in any Grapefruit League games.

It’s been downhill from there, unfortunately. Roberson has been sidelined by various injuries, and outside of rehab situations, he has transitioned to a relief-only role. Since 2021, he has walked 35 batters in 51 23 innings pitched (14.3 BB%). He ascended to Double-A Pensacola, but lacked the control to be successful there.

In 64 total appearances as a Fish farmhand, Roberson posted a 3.26 ERA and 3.65 FIP in 163.0 IP. He just celebrated his 26th birthday on Thursday and has been old relative to his level of competition at every step of his pro journey.

Roberson has a mid-90s fastball, topping out around 98 mph. It accounts for the majority of his pitch usage.

The only secondary pitch that he still uses regularly is a mid-80s slider.

Meanwhile, Head’s Marlins tenure is off to a solid start with a 1.80 ERA, 3.53 FIP and -0.11 WPA in 10.0 IP (11 games). He has been used in a wide variety of situations, as early as the third inning and as late as the ninth. Head picked up the first save of his major league career on April 24 and hadn’t allowed any runners to score until his most recent appearance on May 10.

Beginning May 30, MLB teams will be limited to carrying 13 pitchers on their active roster, requiring the Marlins to trim somebody from their bullpen. Head has two more minor league options remaining, but it’ll be hard to send him down if he continues to be this effective.