The Cincinnati Reds received a massive haul for Luis Castillo, effectively resetting the market for starting pitching. One player impacted by this is Pablo López, who has become a prime target before Tuesday’s trade deadline. He has two-and-a-half years of team control left and has been a quality rotation piece as a big-leaguer.
Should López be moved, the Marlins will command a hefty premium from contending clubs. Let’s look at some potential pieces they could receive back to justify moving such an impactful player.
I’ve previously discussed the Marlins’ lack of star-hitting prospects, so I’m restricting this list exclusively to position players simply because the team has a surplus of quality pitching. Secondly, in order to confirm the validity of my trades, I used Baseball Trade Values, whose model is widely-renowned for its accuracy in measuring player values. Thirdly, I’m only adding one player, not multiple to each scenario. The Marlins’ hitting prospect corps lacks top-tier talent but isn’t short of middle-tier depth, so I’m mocking the front office to go all in for a potential All-Star.
Below are a few prospects of similar value to López I think the Marlins could target as centerpieces of a swap. Future value projections were found on FanGraphs.com, as well as all relevant statistics.
Potential Marlins Trade Targets
1. Robert Hassell, SD
Robert is an advanced hitter who was amongst the top prep bats in the 2020 draft class. He has a refined feel at the plate and could project to stay in center field long-term given his plus wheels throwing arm. Hassell’s only drawback is that he’s routinely posting 50-grade raw exit velocities, which translates to about 20 home runs a year. His profile compares similarly to Brandon Nimmo: a high on-base guy who is strong defensively but won’t hit for much power. Look for AJ Preller and his team to be aggressive over the next few days, although there’s a chance he ends up in the nation’s capital if it meant acquiring Juan Soto.
2. George Valera, CLE
Valera very much fits the mold of what the Marlins have recently tried to do with their young outfielders. Hitters like Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison checked every box except their ability to hit. Ultimately, their overwhelming punchout rates led to the demise of their baseball careers, but this doesn’t mean the template itself doesn’t work. Even if Valera doesn’t hit, his walk rates are so high (above 10% each season he’s had at least 30 plate appearances in) that it will buoy his on-base percentage, but still negatively affect his power output. This is a chance to buy in on someone who—if they curtail their swing-and-miss rates—can become an anchor in the Marlins lineup for years to come.
3. Curtis Mead, TB
The Aussie has come out firing on all cylinders in 2022, kicking off the season in Montgomery before earning a promotion to Durham in June. He’s an absolute mauler at the dish, hitting to all fields and doing so with power. While in Montgomery, he slashed .305/.394/.548. However, this is the extent of his profile; Mead is a below-average athlete without a definite defensive home yet. Still, there’s a lot to like with the bat in his hands, and even with a negative athletic outlook, he will provide the type of production Marlins fans haven’t seen since the Giancarlo Stanton era.
4. Diego Cartaya, LAD
The Fish could aim for their backstop of the future. While Nick Fortes looks promising, you can’t go wrong with adding who is arguably next up in terms of elite catching prospects once Francisco Alvarez reaches the show. Cartaya is likely Los Angeles’ best bargaining chip, and, like Hassell, could instead be swapped for a more lucrative prize. The only concerns surrounding Diego are his feel to hit and his ability to stay on the field. He’s an adequate receiver with a rocket for an arm and booming power; post pandemic, he has yet to slug under .500 at any level he’s been at. The catcher is the most valuable defensive position on the field, and bringing in Diego Cartaya will give the Marlins a future All-Star behind the plate.
5. Jackson Chourio, MIL
Don’t look now, but Jackson Chourio has been the most electrifying break-out prospect of 2022, and is a serious contender to be the number one overall prospect in baseball come next July. To put into context just how amazing he’s been, here’s a tweet from Cream City Prospects from earlier in the season.
Highest wRC+ for an 18 year old in full-season A ball (min. 130 PA) since 2007:— Cream City Prospects (@CreamCityPro) June 10, 2022
184 - Jackson Chourio
172 - Mike Trout
169 - Giancarlo Stanton
164 - Bryce Harper
155 - Wander Franco
154 - Fernando Tatis Jr
151 - Vlad Guerrero Jr
150 - Freddie Freeman
147 - Carlos Correa
He’s in ELITE company, and just getting started. Based on the company he holds on this list, it should come as no surprise to hear Jackson talked about as a potential MVP, bypassing the All-Star category altogether. He’s a five-tool player with four plus tools; the only legitimate concern comes at the plate because of discipline and approach concerns. Realistically speaking, it goes without saying that this is a pie-in-the-sky proposal, and David Stearns is likely to ghost any executive calling in who isn’t offering a star in return. However, while Pablo isn’t exactly an ace, the Brewers are in the midst of a playoff push, and a desire for surplus arms could force Milwaukee’s hand.
With two years of team control still remaining after 2022, it is entirely possible that the Marlins put a rain check on their plans to trade López. They could also re-sign him, although given what we’ve seen from him thus far, it is likely that this money is more efficiently spent elsewhere barring improvement.
Dealing López now means accruing as much value for him as possible. Because they currently lack substantial hitting prospects, Miami would benefit greatly from replenishing the system with a blue-chip prospect to join Jazz Chisholm Jr. and others in the lineup for years to come.