It wouldn’t be an offseason or trade deadline without the annual tradition of rumors regarding the Marlins’ collection of young starting pitchers. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes this morning that Miami has received interest in right-hander Edward Cabrera and lefty Trevor Rogers this winter, though there’s no indication a deal involving either has been seriously discussed.
Miami’s wealth of starting pitching has been the focus of other clubs for several years now, although the extent of that depth is probably overstated now. The Fish traded Pablo Lopez as part of their Luis Arraez acquisition and will be without 2022 NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara in 2024 due to Tommy John surgery. Pitching prospect Jake Eder was traded at the deadline to acquire Jake Burger from the White Sox. Fellow prospects Max Meyer (2022 TJS), Dax Fulton (2023 elbow surgery) and Sixto Sanchez (shoulder surgeries in 2021, 2022) have all seen injuries slow their trajectories as well — particularly in the case of Sanchez.
Currently, the Marlins project to trot out a rotation including Jesus Luzardo, Braxton Garrett, Cabrera, Rogers and ballyhooed young right-hander Eury Perez. There’s no way the Marlins would move Perez, who entered 2023 as arguably the top pitching prospect in the sport and debuted as a 20-year-old with 19 starts of 3.15 ERA ball. Similarly, Rosenthal suggests that Luzardo and Garrett are likely considered off limits. Beyond that top quintet, the Marlins’ top in-house options are 27-year-old Bryan Hoeing and lefty Ryan Weathers, whom they acquired in a buy-low deal from the Padres over the summer.
The extent to which Cabrera or Rogers is available will depend on the strength of offers made by other clubs, as there’s no urgency for Miami to move either pitcher. Rogers, the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up, has three years of team control remaining. Cabrera has five. Rogers has had a pair of disappointing years since a brilliant rookie campaign, pitching to a 5.26 ERA in his past 125 frames (just 18 of which came in an injury-ruined 2023 season). Cabrera has been better but inconsistent while showing worrying command; he’s logged a 3.73 ERA and fanned 26.6% of his opponents in his past 171 1/3 innings but has also issued walks at a 13.7% clip in that time.
Between the greater amount of club control and the better recent track record (both in terms of health and performance), Cabrera has the greater trade value of the pair. He’ll likely be eligible for Super Two status next winter and thus be arbitration-eligible four times rather than three, but Rogers is already into his arb years and projected to earn a modest $1.5MM this coming season, via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
With their past trades and all of the injuries throughout the prospect ranks, the Marlins are no longer as deep as some may believe them to be. It’s still feasible that they could trade someone like Cabrera or Rogers in an effort to acquire help at another area of need like catcher, shortstop or center field (depending on the new front office’s plans for Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s defensive home). It’s a thin free-agent market for bats, after all, and the Marlins likely don’t have extensive financial flexibility anyhow.
That said, if new president of baseball operations Peter Bendix does deal from the rotation to address another need, it’d likely just create a hole on the starting staff that would need to be filled via free agency or a subsequent trade. The Marlins tried this last year when dealing Lopez and signing Johnny Cueto, but the results weren’t at all what the team had hoped, as Cueto posted a 6.02 ERA in 52 1/3 innings.