There is not much to suggest the Mariners would trade any of their young pitchers, making last week’s post a hypothetical more than a possibility. While I can be pretty sure that any trade for a Marlins pitcher by the Cardinals is not happening either, well there is more to suggest the Marlins would make such a trade. And that’s a rather important aspect to trading!
Today, much like last week, I’ll be covering three pitchers. In this version, you have the budding ace, the cost controlled back-end starter, and the bounceback candidate. Jesus Luzardo, the ace or next best thing to an ace if you prefer, has drawn interest but the most important nugget is that Ken Rosenthal suggests the Marlins are open to trading him. For a haul, no doubt. When Mozeliak suggested he would get 2.5 starters, someone like Edward Cabrera would be the 0.5, though he has been good enough to start for any team. And lastly, Trevor Rogers will be entering his second straight season looking to duplicate his 2021 season, or get anywhere close to it.
Projected WAR: 7.2 WAR
Projected Salary: $27.1 million
I’ll say something obvious: Luzardo’s projection is weirdly low. Like low enough that there’s no way whatever package I come up with the Marlins would accept. ZiPS projects Luzardo for 2.6 WAR, and I knocked Luzardo for innings over the following two seasons to arrive at 2.4 and 2.2 WAR. He’s not young at this point: he’ll be 26 next year. So I couldn’t really come up with a good reason why he would get better after 2024. So I’m working with the projection ZiPS gives me.
At a valuation of $10 million per one win above replacement, Luzardo would demand a player with a surplus value in the range of $44.9 million. This is less than Nolan Gorman, and less than Brendan Donovan. They have Luis Arraez anyway. It’s probably.... about Tommy Edman’s value, however knowing how the Marlins operate, they don’t want a player who will cost in the range of $16 million over the next two years with just two years of control.
What they really need is a catcher. Nick Fortes was a 53 wRC+ hitter last year, and they just purchased Christian Bethancourt from the Rays, and he was better, but still had a 74 wRC+ with okay defense. Basically, they have two backup catchers. As much as I like Ivan Herrera, he’s going in this trade for Luzardo. A right outside the top 100 prospect is worth about $15 million, and I struggle to see how Herrera isn’t at least that.
I could go in a couple different directions, but from a value standpoint, given the needs of the Cardinals and what the Marlins are likely to demand back, we’re going to throw Tink Hence in the trade. He’s worth in the $30-40 million range, and that does put the value well over Luzardo’s trade value. So I’m going to do my favorite thing: throw in a good reliever. In this case, AJ Puk seems to fit. Three years of Puk. I would go with a righty, but literally all their good relievers are lefties.
Alternate trades I considered: I went with a volume approach, and combined Herrera with Gordon Graceffo and Victor Scott II, and not only do you have to squint to think they are worth $45 million (none are top 100 prospects, so you need to think of all of them as just on the outside), but I really don’t want to give up Scott. And anything less than a combo of Scott and Graceffo with Herrera would need a fourth prospect, and yeah I bailed on this line of thought.
I already mentioned Edman, who I would think be a fair swap (by value anyway), but would not be a very Marlins move (most teams wouldn’t do that trade, to be fair). In that same vein, Masyn Winn for Luzardo straight up would... probably be fair. Winn was somewhere in the 20-40 range as a prospect and that range is worth $40 million and higher. I feel like a good projection and his MLB readiness now would maybe increase that value enough to match Luzardo. Maybe throw in Luken Baker or a minor prospect to fill in the rest of that value.
But ultimately, I think filling a team need plus giving them an elite pitching prospect makes way more sense for the Marlins than any other trade I could come up with. The general rule of thumb is you have to give up a top pitching prospect to get a top pitcher, and well, I don’t see why that wouldn’t apply here.
Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk for Ivan Herrera and Tink Hence
Projected WAR: 6.4
Projected Salary: $25.5 million
Cabrera projects for a 1.4 WAR season, but with a low innings total, so I kind of assumed he’d get a slight innings bump for 2025, and then I assumed his WAR would go down at that point, so I landed at: 1.4, 1.5, 1.3, 1.2, and 1 WAR. As far as his salary, when he entered arbitration, he would likely be a Super Two candidate, and I applied Point of Pittsburgh’s arbitration percentages, which started at 18% of his free agent worth, which would have been $2.7 million.
That means he’s worth just a little bit less than Luzardo, but he does come with two more years of team control. I initially scoffed at that, but Cabrera is a former Top 100 prospect, and there may be more potential than a typical back-end starter has. And as mentioned, his 1.4 WAR was in just 112 innings. So maybe that sounds right.
No way am I giving up Hence for Cabrera though, nor would I think the Cardinals have to. So in the scenario where the Cardinals trade for Cabrera, I’m going to operate under the assumption that they are relatively high on Ivan Herrera and are fairly desperate for a catcher. While they would not let go off Luzardo for anything but fair value, I think maybe they might be “close enough” and just accept a trade if Herrera is a part of the return.
So with Herrera, for the trade for Cabrera, we’re going to keep Graceffo in the trade, and also add Cooper Hjerpe. If you assume Herrera is roughly a $15 million value and Graceffo a roughly $15 million value, Hjerpe is tecnically only worth $4 million. So we’re short $4 million. But in this instance, you get a potential starting catcher for six years, something the Marlins desperately need, you get a solid pitching prospect, and you get a high variance pitching prospect.
Some of you wouldn’t do this for Herrera, some of you for Herpe, and well I’m sure someone out there really wants to keep Graceffo. I myself want to cash out on Hjerpe sooner rather than later if possible, but I hope that belief ages poorly. I do think this trade makes sense for both sides, I also think there’s no way the Cardinals add another starter unless they are currently better than Cabrera though.
Projected WAR: 4.2
Projected Salary: $13.4 million
The salary portion is highly variable depending on performance. According to his first arbitration salary, he’s valued as a 0.6 WAR player. So if he goes out and has a 3 WAR season, his 2nd arbitration price won’t be $2.4 million. Although his first arbitration does indeed impact his next two years, I assumed he played to projections and then averaged his new value with his old value. So in year two, he was valued as a 1.1 WAR player despite playing like a 1.6 WAR player.
A player who hasn’t had a good season in a couple years is probably harder to value, so it makes sense to trade him for another player with three years of control who is also coming off a disappointing season: Dylan Carlson. Both have some degree of upside. Cause the Cardinals are not trading Herrera or Hence or any relatively big pitching prospects for the uncertainty that is Rogers. Carlson, though? They might.
Why would the Marlins do this? Well their outfield is... not good. Jazz Chisholm adapted to centerfield well, but hasn’t gotten more than 400 PAs in the last two seasons. He’s flanked by Bryan de la Cruz, who had 0.2 fWAR in 626 PAs, and Jesus Sanchez, who had 1.3 fWAR in 402 PAs. Their backup on Roster Resource is Peyton Burdick, who struck out in 18 of his 37 PAs in 2023. He’s also 27 next year. They could really use a player like Dylan Carlson.
Trevor Rogers for Dylan Carlson
In the scenario where the Mariners traded a young pitcher, the primary purpose would be to improve the offense. As such, I was able to avoid trading any big pitching prospects since the bulk of the value was a proven, MLB hitter. This is not the case with the Marlins. They could also use offense, but from a value/need standpoint, Herrera being the main reason for the trade makes more sense, and because he’s not nearly as valuable as a Gorman or Donovan, it was necessary to add Tink Hence. (You could add Roby, but Roby is a worse prospect for now and I think Hence is a better “bang for your buck,” so to speak, as I consider them roughly equals)
The Luzardo trade would probably end up adding about $11-13 million, if you factor in the $5 million backup catcher that would now need to be signed. But that’s all they would need to do, having successfully acquired another reliever (I think they’re getting one more). The Cabrera trade would add, again, probably about $5 million, entirely due to the backup catcher. And with the Rogers trade, the Cardinals would somewhat amusingly if this trade actually happened, shed $300,00 in salary, or basically a wash. Pending arbitration results of course.
I don’t know about you, but I am much more likely to make these trades, although that worries me that they aren’t fair. I am much more okay with trading Tink Hence and Ivan Herrera than I thought I guess, definitely more okay with it than Nolan Gorman or Brendan Donovan. I mentioned it in a comment on my post, but there’s just something different about trading a proven MLB (with potential!) versus trading an unproven, high potential, high variance prospect. And that’s especially true for Hence, who could easily become a reliever. I believe that cashing out on a top pitching prospect for a proven MLB pitcher will work out more than it doesn’t work out.
So what do you think of these trades? Fair? Too light? Would the Marlins accept? Would the Cardinals offer it?