Marlins make sense for Padres in effort to gather starting pitching

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The San Diego Padres need pitching.

Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove provide the Padres with a solid grouping of pitchers at the top of the rotation. However, beyond that, the team has Nick Martinez, and Adrian Morejon penciled in as the next two starters. Martinez is effective, and Morejon is promising, but the team does not have the same depth as it had last year when Mike Clevinger, Sean Manea, and MacKenzie Gore were employed by the team.

To make it worse, Darvish and Snell are free agents at the end of the 2023 season.

A.J. Preller and his staff are eyeing pitching on the open market, but nothing has come to fruition. The Padres may have entertained a few free-agent pitchers this winter but never really got close to reaching an agreement.

As the heard thins on the free agent marketplace, Preller will change gears into possible trades. The Padres have a need to acquire young, controllable pitchers to solidify the rotation for years to come. Preller will once again need to move a few prospects and players to obtain controllable pitching.

Enter the Miami Marlins.

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The Marlins are on an upswing and reportedly looking to add players. They are pitching-rich and possess arguably the best pitcher in the league in Sandy Alcantara. Obviously. the N.L. Cy Young award winner, is not available for trade, but his counterparts in the Marlins staff could be attainable.

Behind Alcantara, the Marlins staff consists of Pablo Lopez, Jesus Luzardo, Trevor Rogers, and Edward Cabrera. This grouping of pitchers are hardly household names, but they each possess value the Padres covet. They are all under contract for at least two seasons. Lopez is due for free agency after the 2024 season, but the other three men are under contract through the 2026 season. That is four years of control for each pitcher.

If you are Miami, why would you consider dealing pitchers like this who are on inexpensive contracts? The answer is the Marlins have numerous pitching prospects in the minor leagues, and three or four of them are major-league-ready, including their best prospect Eury Perez.

Braxton Garrett has experience at the major league level, as he threw in 27 games over the last three seasons for the Marlins. Max Meyer and Sixto Sanchez made their major league debuts last year and looked impressive. Both are Marlins’ top prospects, so they have arms that can fill in if Miami decides to move some pitching. Beyond these three, the Marlins have Jake Eder and Dax Fulton, who are close, and the before-mentioned Eury Perez. Miami is deep in pitching.

So what would the Marlins want for their young pitching, and which of these four pitchers should the Padres target?

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The Marlins are looking for lineup upgrades.

Ha-Seong Kim fits the Marlins’ possible needs, as the team could use a shortstop. Veteran Miguel Rojas is the Marlins’ shortstop and provides nothing special for Miami. Kim is not known for his bat thus far in the majors, but he looked productive last season for the Padres in a starting role. Trent Grisham is another possibility if the Padres care to move on from the two-time Gold Glove centerfielder. Miami needs help in center field and would likely be intrigued with the upside of Grisham, who is still 26 years old.

Jose Azocar and Eguy Rosario also make sense for Miami, as does Taylor Kohlwey if the Marlins are looking for younger players with developing value. Ryan Weathers could also be an option if the Padres want to move on from their former first-round pick. Though, trading Weathers for young controllable pitching is like chasing your tail.

Contrary to what most believe, the Padres also have decent young prospects who could be attained by the Marlins if they want to go in that direction. The point is the Padres could probably meet the Marlins’ asking price.

So, which of the pitchers is the most appealing?

Pablo Lopez

Of the group of four, Lopez is the less attractive as the fewer two seasons under contract are big. He made 2.45 million dollars last year and will likely get a raise in arbitration for the 2023 season. The Marlins took offers on the right-hander prior to the deadline in 2022 but held on to him. The 26-year-old will be 27 when the season opens and went 10-10 last year while eating up 180 innings for Miami. He owns a career 3.94 ERA in 510 major league innings for the Marlins. The native of Venezuela has had arm injuries in the past but did make every start last season for his team.

Trevor Rogers

The 2021 N.L. All-Star is available, but struggled last season, recording a 5.47 ERA in 23 starts and 107 innings pitched. The southpaw is only 25 and could be in store for a boost in 2023. Ruben Niebla could play a factor in any of these young pitchers, and Rogers is definitely one. The former first-round pick out of New Mexico is proving to have some durability to his arm. Rogers needs refinement, but there is the thought that he can be a competent mid-rotation starter.

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Jesus Luzardo

Bob Melvin has familiarity with this young lefty as they both were members of the Oakland A’s. Luzardo has arguably the best stuff of this group of pitchers but is also a bit of an enigma. He has had minor health issues here and there, which also complicate his value when trying to determine it. He went 4-7 last season with a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts, and 100.1 innings pitched. The 25-year-old flamethrower struck out 120 in that time while walking 35 batters. There is an upside here, but can he eat innings for the Padres in 2023?

Edward Cabrera

Cabrera is the least experienced of the group but could have the best stuff when it is all said and done. The right-handed pitcher is very raw and young would not expect him to go much more than 100-120 innings this season at the major league level. The 24-year-old threw 109 innings last season between the majors and minor leagues. Cabrera went 6-4 last year for the Marlins with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.074 WHIP in 14 starts, and 71.2 innings pitched. The Dominican native did cough up 10 homers last year at the major league level.

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