The Padres quest for pitching may end with Marlins

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The San Diego Padres need starting pitching and the Miami Marlins may be the answer.

There is no doubt that the Padres will add pitchers this winter.

The current starting staff is made up of Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and a bunch of unproven talent. The Padres have aspirations of a world title and cannot go into the season with a patchwork of pitchers making up the bottom of the rotation. Adrian Morejon, Pedro Avila, Matt Waldron, Jay Groome, and company just come with too many question marks.

Pitching will be added in the coming weeks. The only question is- where will they come from?

Reports indicate that the Padres would like to save $50 million from their payroll. With the trade of Scott Barlow to the Guardians last week for Enyel De Los Santos, the Padres saved somewhere around $5 million. De Los Santos may be the better pitcher in 2024, but the trade looks like a cost-cutting move.

This week, the MLB Winter Meetings start. The Padres will certainly be active.

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Juan Soto may take up the headlines, but the Padres have much work to do to fill their rotation. They could explore free agency to solve the problem, but the greater likelihood is that they make a few trades. One team of interest could be the Miami Marlins.

The two sides were linked last winter as the Padres explored the idea of trading for Pablo Lopez. The Marlins instead dealt the pitcher to Minnesota, where he enjoyed a solid year with the Twins.

The Marlins are not blessed with the abundance of pitching they once possessed. Sandy Alcantara underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the 2024 season.

Miami has a bunch of young pitchers and could use a proven veteran at the top of their rotation. The thought process is that the Marlins can deal some young pitchers and then sign a veteran or two to anchor the starting rotation heading into the 2024 season.

Let’s take a look at the Marlins and who they have to offer.

Jesus Luzardo

At this point, Luzardo is the team’s ace. The 26-year-old left-handed pitcher from Peru is trending the right way. Last season, Luzardo threw a career-high 178 innings for the Marlins in 32 starts. Injury issues had plagued the pitcher early in his career, but 2023 proved to be a breakout of sorts. Luzardo is a strikeout pitcher. He struck out 208 batters last season while walking 55 hitters and recording a 1.215 WHIP.

Credit: Miami Herald

Jesus Luzardo made $2.4 million last season and will get a raise this season in arbitration. He is under control through the 2026 season and at a reasonable rate. The Marlins would be hard-pressed to deal their ace at this point. The Padres would likely have to pay top dollar for Miami to let go of Luzardo. A trade of Luzardo to the Padres just doesn’t seem feasible at this point. But you never know.

Edward Cabrera

At 25, Edward Cabrera could be an interesting trade target for San Diego. The right-handed pitcher comes with a lot of upside but has yet to put it all together. Cabrera has control issues at this point in his career. He walked 66 batters last year in 99 innings and 22 games at the major league level. Ruben Niebla could work some magic and refine his mechanics, but Cabrera is a project for sure.

With five years of control left, Cabrera is intriguing as he will make the league minimum until the 2026 season when he is first arbitration-eligible. Cabrera could turn into a dominant starting pitcher, or he could become a viable setup man. There is risk here. The Padres would need to be satisfied that they can fix his command problems. The cost should not be extraordinary, but Miami still holds Cabrera in high regard.

Braxton Garrett

Left-handed pitcher Braxton Garrett came into his own last year with the Marlins. The 26-year-old went 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.146 WHIP in 30 starts and 159.2 innings pitched. The southpaw showed excellent control as he walked only 29 batters in that time. He did allow 20 homers last year and will need to utilize the corners of the plate a little more.

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Garrett is the Marlins first-round pick in 2016 out of high school. He is under control for the next five seasons and is not arbitration-eligible until the 2025 season. There is tremendous value here, as Garrett has the stuff to remain in the rotation and a ton of control left in his contract. The Padres would need to pay up for him, but the Padres can easily pay the asking price.

Trevor Rogers

The last pitcher is someone EVT highlighted about four weeks ago. Trevor Rogers was injured for the majority of the 2023 season and maybe the easiest to attain of this group of pitchers. Rogers broke out in 2021, recording a 2.64 ERA in 25 starts and 133 innings pitched. The lefty was an MLB All-Star that season and looked prime to breakout. A horrible 2022 season (5.47 ERA), coupled with his injury woes of last season, make him a decent trade target.

Rogers is not due for free agency until the 2027 season. He is due for arbitration this coming season but should not make much over the league minimum. The Padres could send some prospects or a few players who are major league ready. The Padres need pitching that is under team control, and Rogers certainly fits that bill. It is unclear if Rogers fits in the Marlins’ future plans.

Overview

Miami is constructed to win now. Or at least they would like to stay competitive. They will not sell their young pitchers away for just unproven young prospects/talent. They also do not have a surplus of pitching like they once had. With Sandy Alcantara’s injury, they are certainly without a proven ace.

The Padres will need to move major league players in return for pitching. Players like Trent Grisham and Jake Cronenworth may be of interest to Miami. The Padres have prospects, especially young pitching, that may be satisfying to Miami as they deal major league pitching. The two sides match up well in a potential trade. We will see if anything comes from it.

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