Starling Marte is an exciting trade option for the San Diego Padres.
There are whispers that the San Diego Padres will be poised to make some significant moves this winter. With a very young and promising roster, the team could be close to contention with some well-timed moves.
Manuel Margot is 25 years old and presently entrenched as the Padres’ starting center fielder. The right-handed hitter has not produced as most envisioned he would since the team acquired him from the Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel in November of 2015.
The speedy center fielder continues to struggle to get on base at the Major League level, and that is a problem. A .301 OBP in 1,400 at-bats is not exciting for someone with his natural abilities. His speed has not transitioned to the base paths yet, as Margot has only stolen 51 bases in his career while being thrown out 21 times. That is a less than stellar stolen base ratio. Not getting on base and with no strong ability to steal a bag, Margot has been relegated to the bottom half of the Padres’ lineup for the past few seasons.
In the search for a more reliable option in centerfield, the San Diego Padres could explore a trade for Starling Marte of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Like Margot, the right-handed hitter brings a terrific speed dynamic to his game. The 31-year-old stole 25 bases last year and has 239 steals in his career. Marte also owns a career .341 on-base percentage in his 8-year career. He has continually gotten on base and been a vital spark in the Pirates’ offense.
Acquiring Marte would not be easy, though. He has an $11.5 million option for 2020 and a $12.5 million option for 2021, which is a team-friendly total. The Pirates are in no hurry to deal their All-Star as he is affordable, but they could be persuaded by the Padres’ many relevant young prospects. San Diego is deep in pitching prospects in particular which could be very enticing to Pittsburgh.
Starling Marte is a two-time NL Gold-Glove winning outfielder. He might not be as quick as Margot presently, but he takes great jumps on the ball and has a strong arm. The right-handed hitter owns a career .295/.342/.452 slash line with a .793 OPS in over 3,600 at-bats. He made the All-Star team in 2016 but was suspended in April of 2017 for PED usage. Marte was punished with an 80-game suspension from the league. This fact is a major red flag, but Marte has hit for more power after his return from suspension. His 2019 season was his best in terms of OPS as he put up a .845 in 132 games. PED usage is not something to take lightly, but the Dominican outfielder has been clean and should continue to be so as the next suspension for PED usage would result in a 162-game suspension.
The fleet-footed outfielder is not very durable, and that is another potential concern for the Padres. He has missed time with nagging injuries over his career and has only played in 145 games twice during his career at the Major League level. At the age of 31, he does not figure to be able to increase his durability. Even though he may struggle to play all the time, he is very valuable when in the lineup. If the Padres could find a suitable top-of-the-order presence who could play centerfield and bats left-handed, they could have a very favorable platoon.
The Pirates are in the middle of a rebuild and could fetch several prospects from the Padres for the veteran. The Padres could also trade the Pirates relevant young players who are Major League ready. With 40-man issues and a need for consistency in centerfield, the Padres would welcome the Dominican outfielder. It seems like a perfect match.
Trading for Marte and adding his salary for the next two seasons could be an issue when it comes to potentially signing an ace pitcher like Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole. The Padres are already showing interest in Strasburg, who is a native of San Diego. A link to Cole is undoubtedly going to happen at some point as the So Cal native has a strong desire to return home. Money invested in a possible Marte trade is one thing to consider. However, if the Padres want to compete moving into the new decade, they need to go the extra mile. That means increasing payroll and bringing in veteran players to fill the 26-man roster. The ball is in the court of the Padres’ front office, and they are sure to attempt to make a splash this winter. Could Starling Marte be a trade target? Only time will tell.