MIAMI — The Marlins on Friday acquired reigning American League batting champion and All-Star infielder Luis Arraez from the Twins for right-hander Pablo López and two prospects, infielder Jose Salas (No. 5 in the Marlins’ system) and outfielder Byron Chourio.
The 25-year-old Arraez, who is under team control through 2025, has a .314 average through 389 career games. In ’22, he drew a career-high 50 walks to lead the Twins while striking out just 43 times, making him the only Major League player to strike out fewer than 50 times in at least 500 plate appearances.
Marlins receive: INF Luis Arraez
Twins receive: RHP Pablo López, INF José Salas (Marlins’ No. 5 prospect), OF Byron Chourio
“It’s a lot of young guys there like me,” Arraez said. “I’ll be excited to play [around] a lot of people from Venezuela, from [the Dominican Republic], from Puerto Rico.
“I’m hoping to give a lot of energy to the Marlins fans, a lot of energy to my teammates, to the coaching staff, to everybody there. I just go there to win a lot of games.”
Arraez becomes the first player since Rod Carew (1978-79) — also traded from the Twins (to the Angels) — to be dealt the offseason after winning a batting title, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
By adding Arraez, Miami gains both impressive offensive strength and much-needed infield depth. Though listed as a second baseman, Arraez played first base for more games (60) in 2022 than he did second base (31) or designated hitter (34). But the Marlins want Arraez back at second. To do so, they have a major move in the works: Jazz Chisholm Jr. sliding to center field.
“Jazz is very open-minded about it,” general manager Kim Ng told reporters via Zoom. “[He] sounded enthusiastic. … Jazz is a very unique athlete. Very dynamic. He’s got great range, great speed. He’s got a lot of the things that you look for when you’re thinking about center field.”
The Marlins had received inquiries on López since the middle of the season, and rightly so. López, who will turn 27 in March and is under team control through 2024, has a 3.94 ERA across five seasons (94 starts) with the Marlins. Last year, López combined with ace Sandy Alcantara to provide a strong one-two punch atop Miami’s rotation, making a career-high 32 starts.
Interest from the Twins ramped up over the past two weeks, and that turned into serious talks around Tuesday. It helped that the Marlins made the signing of veteran starter Johnny Cueto official on Thursday. With Alcantara and Cueto atop the rotation, plus Jesús Luzardo (100 1/3 innings in 2022), Trevor Rogers (133), Edward Cabrera (71 2/3) and Braxton Garrett (88), Miami has a surplus of starting pitching. And that’s not to mention the current and former prospects nearing their returns.
“Pitching is our strength, and that’s our foundation,” Ng said. “I think this was a very good baseball trade for both clubs. … This offseason definitely felt a little bit like, you know, ‘The Little Engine That Could.’ It was a slow build. But we finally got to a better place.”
Also included in the deal is Salas, who is projected to reach the Majors by 2024. He boasts plus speed, solid arm strength and hits well from both sides of the plate. The 17-year-old Chourio, one of the Marlins’ international prospects, signed in January 2022 and played in the Dominican Summer League last season.
Edwards, who is ranked Miami’s No. 16 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is expected to reach the big leagues this season, while Amaya — a shortstop — is ranked No. 12 and is likely to be in the Majors for the Marlins at some point this season after having made his debut in 2022.
With Arraez in the fold, the Marlins are building out an infield — and a lineup — to match their starting pitching depth. Are they done making moves?
“We’re always looking to improve,” Ng said. “You always have to listen. The offseason is the offseason — there’s still several weeks left here before we move forward to Spring Training. So I think we’re always going to look for the next deal.”