The Marlins, surprisingly competitive and tied for second place in the NL East at 14-15, made a move to boost their lineup prior to Monday’s trade deadline, acquiring veteran outfielder Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks in exchange for pitchers Caleb Smith and Humberto Mejía as well as a player to be named later. SportsGrid’s Craig Mish was the first to report on the deal Monday, with ESPN’s Jeff Passan providing details:
Marlins are close to acquiring Outfielder Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks per sources.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) August 31, 2020
Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later are headed to the Diamondbacks for Starling Marte, source tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 31, 2020
Marte, 31, was in his first season with the Diamondbacks after an offseason trade brought his eight-year tenure with the Pirates to an end. Once considered one of the majors’ top defensive outfielders, Marte has taken a step back in the outfield and has posted -2 defensive runs saved this season. But he’s had a strong season at the plate, hitting .311/.384/.443 with two homers, good for a well-above average 123 OPS+, and he should stabilize a center field position that the Marlins have struggled to fill all season.
Smith, 29, has made just one start this season and was one of 13 Marlins players placed on the injured list following the team’s COVID-19 outbreak. But he’s been a steady member of Miami’s rotation for the previous two seasons and will be a solid rotation option for the Diamondbacks. Smith has struggled with run prevention throughout his major-league career and has a 4.64 ERA over 54 appearances (47 starts), but his peripherals are quite good, as he has a .226 career opponent batting average, a 1.28 WHIP, 277 strikeouts, and 109 walks over 252.1 innings spanning four seasons.
Mejía, 23, made his major-league debut following the Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak, reaching the majors without any experience in Double-A or Triple-A. Over three starts, he posted a 5.40 ERA with a 1.90 WHIP, 11 strikeouts, and six walks. He’s likely a ways away from truly being major-league ready, but he does provide some intrigue for the Diamondbacks.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that minor-league left-hander Julio Frias will be the player to be named later in the Marte deal. The 22-year-old has an unremarkable 4.28 ERA over five professional seasons, but he broke out in short-season ball last summer, posting a 2.83 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP, 73 Ks and 23 walks in 70 innings.