Starling Marte

The Starling Marte Trade – A Deeper Look at a Big Win For the Marlins

The Miami Marlins made some waves at the trade deadline, acquiring veteran outfielder Starling Marte and prospect Griffin Conine. Here’s a look at the deal.

What The Marlins Gave Up

Caleb Smith to Arizona

Caleb Smith has been a relatively consistent force in a previously weak Marlins starting rotation since being traded over from the Yankees. A 15-17 record and 4.39 ERA in his time with Miami wasn’t anything special, but the consistency was a nice addition to a struggling starting rotation. Smith struggled with injuries with the Marlins, especially this year. Due to COVID-19, Smith only made one start where he went 3 innings on 6 walks.

This loss would have hurt a rebuilding Marlins team, but once Smith came back, there was no guarantee that he would have found himself back in the rotation. Pablo Sanchez, Sixto Sanchez, Trevor Rogers, Sandy Alcantara, and Elieser Hernandez provide a core starting five unlike anything the Marlins have seen in a while. Smith was a perfect trade piece, and the Marlins knew that. Great move.

Humberto Mejia to Arizona

Humberto Mejia seemingly came out of nowhere. Signing as a free agent at 23 years old from Panama, Mejia made 3 starts for the marlins, sporting a 5.40 ERA over 10 IP. Similar to the Caleb Smith situation, Mejia had no place in the current rotation after the call ups of S. Sanchez and Rogers in combination with a healthy P. Sanchez, Hernandez, and Alcantara.

Mejia lacked the firepower of the other pitching products in the Marlins system, and because of that found himself rightfully on the trade block.

Julio Frias to Arizona

Frias signed in 2014 as an international free agent. He has a good left arm and good strikeout stuff, but hadn’t progressed past A-ball, and in an organization where starting pitching is not currently an issue (when the whole crew is healthy, of course), the marlins made another smart move.

Jonathan Villar to Toronto

Jonathan Villar came to Miami to be a veteran leader and playmaker at the top of the lineup. Halfway through this short season, Villar hasn’t necessarily lived up to expectations. With a relatively low batting average (.259) and on-base percentage (.315), Villar’s hitting prowess hasn’t lived up to expectations. He did lead the league in steals, but has been caught stealing 5 times in the process.

With expectations being lowered every night, the Marlins went out to make a change and get Starling Marte in comparison. I’ll take a look next as to why this trade-up may be just what the Marlins need to continue their run.

What The Marlins Got

Starling Marte to Miami

The 8-year Cuban veteran finds himself in Miami after being sent to Arizona to help them compete. The Diamondbacks were sellers at the deadline due to their recent losing streak, but Marte played no negative role in that. His .311/.384 split has been a stellar representation of the difference he brings to the table over Villar. He brings the same speed to the table, and is one of the best outfielders in the league. Past the numbers, what really stands out is his patience at the plate, something Villar lacked. He gets deep into counts, and is a stellar hitter when ahead in the count with a .424 average. Marte provides the same veteran leadership, the same speed, and better stats to back him up. The perfect trade-up for a team looking to make a run.

Griffin Conine to Miami

The Marlins got Mr. Marlin’s son! Looking past that amazing story, Conine will eventually provide a solid left-handed bat in a future Marlins lineup. For more info on Griffin Conine, check out David Fernandez’s trade-day article.

The Verdict

It might have been advantageous for the Marlins to go out and bolster their bullpen, but the front-office said the deals just weren’t there. Looking at this trade in particular, the Marlins won. That’s not to say the Diamondbacks didn’t win either, as they got 3 solid pitching products, and Toronto got Robbie Ray. The question to ask: was this trade enough to put the Marlins in a better position to win this year? Trading three pitchers who most likely would have seen bullpen time at best, to upgrade Jonathan Villar to Starling Marte is a deal the Marlins lucked into and would take any day of the week. We will see how it plays out, but it looks like a win right now.

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