As the free agent starting pitching market thins, there’s been some chatter about the Marlins as a team that might subtract a pitcher in trade. That attention has generally been centered on left-hander Jesús Luzardo and young righty Edward Cabrera. Last week, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote that Cabrera had the better chance of that duo of changing hands, although it wasn’t clear how likely Miami was to move either player.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald added some context on the trade possibilities involving Miami’s starters this afternoon. Jackson writes that the Fish are willing to consider offers on each of Luzardo, Cabrera and left-hander Braxton Garrett, although he indicates there aren’t any proposals under “active consideration.”
A trade still seems a possibility but isn’t necessarily likely. The Fish haven’t done much under first-year president of baseball operations Peter Bendix. Miami is the only team that still hasn’t signed a free agent to a major league deal this offseason. Their biggest moves were trade pickups of catcher Christian Bethancourt, reliever Calvin Faucher and out-of-options infielder Vidal Bruján.
It’s an underwhelming offseason for a team coming off a surprising Wild Card berth. The Fish seem likely to lose a 36-homer hitter after Jorge Soler declined his player option. They’re looking to add at shortstop, but the free agent class at the position is dismal. They could use another bat in the corner outfield/designated hitter mix.
For all the lineup questions, their biggest loss in 2024 is one to injury. Sandy Alcantara underwent Tommy John surgery during last year’s postseason. With the 2022 NL Cy Young winner missing the entire season, the Fish project for a season-opening starting five of Eury Pérez, Luzardo, Garrett, Cabrera and Trevor Rogers.
That’s still a promising group, but their once vaunted rotation depth has thinned. In addition to the Alcantara injury, the Fish dealt Pablo López and prospect Jake Eder last year. Depth options beyond their front five include Ryan Weathers and Bryan Hoeing. Miami should get a boost from former #3 overall pick Max Meyer, who is 18 months removed from his own Tommy John procedure. Jackson writes that the new front office still considers Meyer a viable starting pitcher; prospect evaluators were divided on whether he was better suited for a high-leverage relief role before the injury.
Meyer only made two MLB starts before the unfortunate ligament tear. Rogers was limited to four starts, all in April, last year by biceps and lat injuries. Pérez, widely regarded as the sport’s top pitching prospect before an impressive rookie season, logged 128 innings between Triple-A and the majors last season. Miami could still be cautious about expanding the 20-year-old’s workload too far beyond 150 frames.
Luzardo and Garrett are Miami’s only healthy starters who topped 100 MLB innings a season ago. They both had strong seasons. The former posted a 3.58 ERA while punching out more than 28% of opposing hitters in 32 starts. With three years of arbitration control and a fastball approaching 97 MPH on average, he likely has more trade value than anyone in the Miami rotation aside from Pérez (who certainly isn’t getting moved).
Garrett has a more extended control window, as he won’t get to free agency for another five seasons. The former #7 overall pick allowed 3.66 earned runs per nine in just under 160 frames. Garrett doesn’t have the huge velocity of most of his rotation mates, sitting around 91 MPH with his heater. Yet his strong secondary offerings and plus command have translated into mid-rotation results for the last two seasons.
Cabrera is a more volatile young arm. The 25-year-old righty worked to a 4.24 ERA across 99 2/3 MLB frames. He generated an impressive 27.2% strikeout rate and 54.3% ground-ball percentage with a fastball that sits above 96 MPH. His control remains a significant question, however. Cabrera walked more than 15% of opposing hitters last season and has handed out free passes at a 14% rate over parts of three years in the big leagues. As with Garrett, he’s under club control for five more seasons.