May 25, 2024

Trade analysis: Marlins make out like sharks in the Luis Arraez trade with Padres

Trade details: Padres acquire 2B Luis Arráez from the Marlins for RHP Woo-Suk Go, OF Dillon Head, 1B Nathan Martorella and OF Jakob Marsee

The San Diego Padres and Miami Marlins pulled off a surprise May trade, two months before deadline mania usually sets in, sending Luis Arráez to San Diego for an impressive haul of three prospects plus a minor-league reliever. The Padres may have made themselves a little better here, but the Marlins did especially well, and began a rebuild that was overdue.

The Padres’ offense hasn’t been a big problem for them this year, although you can see some cracks in the foundation that adding Arráez might address. He doesn’t seem to have an obvious place to play on the Padres, however, with Xander Bogaerts at second base — the position Bogaerts should have played the moment he signed with San Diego — and Jake Cronenworth hitting quite well while playing first. Perhaps the three of them will cycle through the DH spot, although Arráez has to return to his 2022-23 level of production to justify playing him there (as would Bogaerts, now that you mention it). Arráez has lost some contact quality in the early going this year, not enough to sound the alarm and say he’s a lesser hitter but enough to note and say it bears watching, especially since the Padres have rather clearly indicated that they think it’s nothing to worry about.



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The return for Miami seemed solid with the initial reports that it included Dillon Head and Nathan Martorella, but when you throw in Jakob Marsee, this is the best deal the Marlins have made in years.

Head is the jewel of the trade, a first-round pick last July who’s tooled out with 70 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) speed, possibly even 80, along with plus defense in center and very good bat speed. He showed strong contact quality in 2023 after he signed, but that hasn’t carried over into the first month of 2024, where he’s also shown some trouble with pitch recognition. He’s only 19, and won’t even turn 20 until October, so there is plenty of time for him to make these adjustments, but I can also understand the win-now Padres deciding his major-league ETA is too far down the road to matter to them.

Marsee should be a quality fourth outfielder within the next year, maybe by the end of 2024, even with a slow start in Double A this year. He’s an above-average defender in center who’s a very smart basestealer and shows a strong approach at the plate, with a willingness to work a walk that makes up for a fringy hit tool. He doesn’t have great bat speed, so the contact quality isn’t there to make him a regular, and he may not hit lefties enough to get there regardless, but he should have positive major-league value for a long time as a part-timer.



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Martorella has the hit tool that Marsee lacks, but none of the other stuff, as he’s probably a first baseman in the end — or a DH — and doesn’t have the power yet to profile as a regular at either spot. He’s a dead fastball hitter who at least hits lefties as well as righties, so there’s some reason to hope he can find a path to become a soft regular, either with more power or by boosting his offspeed recognition enough to hit for consistently high averages. He’s more likely a 45, a nice bench player/reserve who has pinch-hitting value and won’t kill you if he plays every day for a few weeks.

Woo-Suk Go is in the deal too, which I presume is to send some salary back to Miami. The KBO veteran (and brother-in-law of Giants outfielder Jung Hoo Lee) hasn’t been very successful as a reliever so far in Double A, although his 92-94 mph fastball has missed some bats.

That’s three prospects with projected major-league value, one a potential star, for a month short of two years of control of Arráez. Miami is in free-fall right now, with a rotation that’s fallen apart due to injuries and a reality bill they were going to have to pay after last year’s miraculous playoff berth despite being outscored on the season.

Trading Arráez for three players who should help the team at some point in the future is smart. Doing it now, way before trade season opens up, is even smarter. For the Padres, I suppose it makes them a little better, but Arráez has to get back to last year’s level of production, and even if he does, they don’t need another bat so much as they need more help on the pitching side, and to see some of their most highly paid hitters get themselves back to where they were a year or two ago.

(Photo of Head from the 2022 Perfect Game All-Star Game: Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today)