With more than half the league making the playoffs this season, teams lingering around .500 or below were in position to buy and that’s just what the Miami Marlins did on Monday.
As the Phillies were completing a trade with the Brewers for right-handed reliever David Phelps, the Marlins reportedly acquired outfielder Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks in exchange for left-handed starting pitcher Caleb Smith, right-handed starter Humberto Mejia and Single A lefty Julio Frias.
Marte has had a nice nine-year career, hitting .288 in just under 1,000 plate appearances with an OPS 15% above the league average. From 2013-19, he averaged 32 stolen bases per season. He’s a gap-to-gap, line-drive hitter with 20-home-run power. He’s made an All-Star team and won two Gold Gloves. He spent his first six seasons next to Andrew McCutchen in the Pirates’ outfield.
The Marlins have gotten very little out of their outfielders, a group that has collectively hit .204. Marte, who can lead off or bat in the middle of the order, will be a substantial upgrade.
The Marlins could exercise Marte’s club option after the season to keep him in 2021 for $12.5 million or they could buy him out for $1 million. Considering they traded two decent, controllable starting pitchers for him, they likely have designs of picking up that option.
Smith had a 4.39 ERA with 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 45 starts with the Marlins. His only start in 2020 came against the Phillies on the second day of the season. He walked six but allowed one run in three innings.
Mejia has made three starts this season as a rookie, skipping Double A and Triple A entirely with no minor-league season.
The Phillies and Marlins were tied for second place in the NL East on trade deadline day at 14-15. Every second-place team in the majors qualifies for the 2020 postseason, as do the teams in each league with the next-two-best records. If the season ended today, both the Phillies and Marlins would be in the playoffs.
The Phils have seven more games with the Marlins, all in Miami from Sept. 10-14.
The rest of the NL East was relatively quiet on deadline day. The Mets reportedly traded for Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos and third baseman Todd Frazier, as well as Orioles right-handed reliever Miguel Castro. Chirinos has hit .119 this season but the Mets needed a better defender behind the plate than Wilson Ramos. Castro has a 4.02 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 15⅔ innings.
The Braves made a minor move for lefty Tommy Milone on Sunday and that was it.