It’s been widely reported over the past several months — really, dating back to last offseason — that the Marlins are open to dealing from their wealth of starting pitching depth in order to solidify other needs on the roster. That’s led to righty Pablo Lopez, who drew strong interest from the Yankees and the Dodgers at the trade deadline, being one of the most heavily speculated-upon trade candidates of the 2022-23 offseason. However, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes in his latest Marlins notebook column that the team may be more open to moving left-hander Trevor Rogers than Lopez.
The 25-year-old Rogers is coming off a down year — nowhere near the excellent season enjoyed by Lopez — but would appeal to other teams in a different capacity. While acquiring Lopez would likely require trading a bevy of prospects for a pitcher at his value’s peak, Rogers is more of a buy-low option on the heels of a down 2022 season. The former first-round pick was an All-Star and the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up to Jonathan India in 2021, when he tossed 133 innings of 2.64 ERA ball with a hefty 28.6% strikeout rate and a solid enough 8.4% walk rate.
The 2022 season was a brutal sophomore campaign for Rogers, however. Back spasms and a lat strain prompted a pair of IL stints for the 6’5″ lefty, and his results when healthy enough to take the mound didn’t even come close to that brilliant rookie output. In 107 innings, Rogers worked to a 5.47 ERA that was more than double his 2021 mark, and his strikeout rate fell by more than six percentage points (to 22.2%) while his walk rate crept up to 9.4%. After allowing just 0.41 homers per nine innings in 2021 (1.1% of his opponents took him deep), Rogers yielded an average of 1.26 homers per nine frames (3.1%).
In addition to the discrepancy between the pair’s 2022 seasons, Lopez is under team control for only two more years and is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.6MM in his second year of arbitration. Rogers, meanwhile, is not yet arbitration-eligible and can be controlled for another four seasons. Both players would be highly appealing to the majority of clubs seeking rotation help this offseason, but a win-now club might feel better about plugging the veteran Lopez into its rotation, as he’s coming off a career-high 180 innings and has worked to a combined 3.52 ERA (3.48 FIP, 3.69 SIERA) over his past three seasons.
As was the case last offseason, it’s not a lock that the Marlins will trade any of their current big league rotation options. Many similar rumblings echoed throughout the 2021-22 offseason, but at the end of the day, the most notable arm the Fish had moved was right-hander Zach Thompson, who’d been their fifth starter. That the Marlins are open to moving Lopez and perhaps even more open to moving Rogers is notable, but that hardly means they plan to shop either pitcher and trade him for the best offer.
Rather, Miami appears likely to again set its sights on solidifying its center field vacancy this offseason. That didn’t transpire last year, and the team instead relied entirely on in-house options — most of whom were corner outfielders that were clearly miscast in center. Jesus Sanchez, former top prospect JJ Bleday and Bryan De La Cruz all logged significant time in center, but none of that trio drew particularly strong defensive grades for their efforts there.
Looking ahead to 2023, Miami will have to hope for better results from Avisail Garcia in one corner outfield spot and could again look to the trio of Sanchez, Bleday and De La Cruz as outfield components — though this time more likely in whichever corner is not occupied by Garcia. Jackson writes within his column that the bulk of Jorge Soler’s playing time will likely come at designated hitter next season, so he looks like an occasional outfield option, at best.
While center field is perhaps the most obvious area of need, Miami could also use upgrades at a variety of positions. Third base seems like another possible focus, and Miami lacks an obvious first baseman aside from Garrett Cooper, who’s been a candidate to be traded himself dating back to the deadline.
Of course, most fans salivate over the mere notion of 2022 NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara being made available in a trade, but with four years remaining on an affordable contract, there’s little to no hope of such a scenario actually transpiring. Alcantara is a veritable lock to be Miami’s Opening Day starter in 2023, and if Lopez isn’t traded, he’ll presumably slot into the second spot in the rotation. The Marlins will also lean on a resurgent Jesus Luzardo and hard-throwing righty Edward Cabrera — a longtime top prospect who broke out with a 3.01 ERA in 14 starts last year.
Rogers and fellow southpaw Braxton Garrett are the favorites to occupy the fifth spot in the rotation, particularly with top prospects Max Meyer (Tommy John), Jake Eder (Tommy John) and Sixto Sanchez (shoulder) all recovering from surgery. Right-hander Eury Perez reached Double-A at just 19 years of age in 2023 and could be another rotation option before long; he’s widely considered to be among the ten best prospects in all of baseball and, unsurprisingly, is considered squarely off the table (as is the case with Alcantara), per Jackson’s report.