According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, and later confirmed by Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic, the Twins have agreed to trade AL batting champ Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins in exchange for SP Pablo López, SS Jose Salas, and OF Byron Chourio.
The Twins have had long-standing interest in López, and they have finally acquired their targeting starting pitcher. López pitched to the tune of a 3.75 ERA/3.71 FIP in 2022. In 180 innings, he struck out 174 batters while limiting walks and homers. His advanced numbers on Statcast also look promising.
While López was solid in 2022, the Twins are likely hoping he can regain his 2021 form when he was dominant before injuries cut his season short. At the bare minimum, they are acquiring a solid starting pitcher who could potentially be more, with two years of team control remaining.
López should slot right into the Twins rotation immediately along with Joe Ryan, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Kenta Maeda. The Twins could go with a 6-man rotation to start the season, or could stash Bailey Ober in St. Paul for depth. The Twins still have Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, Ronny Henriquez, and Jordan Balazovic as other starting options on the 40-man roster, and Chris Paddack may be able to return in the second half, so the trade could also be the start of a series of moves. With a plethora of depth at starting pitcher, the Twins may be able to package some of the guys heading into free agency or the prospects to acquire an impact right-handed corner outfielder or first baseman.
The other main piece the Twins acquired was shortstop Jose Salas, a legitimate prospect who ranks 5th in the Marlins system and 93rd overall according to Baseball Prospectus. He should slot in as the Twins’ 4th best prospect, behind Brooks Lee, Royce Lewis, and Emmanuel Rodriguez. With the farm system a bit scarce due to the trades last summer, getting a fringe Top-100 prospect and another high-potential wildcard along with López is likely what pushed the deal over the top for Derek Falvey.
While Arraez was a fan-favorite whose infectious energy permeated throughout the team, 2022 was likely his peak. A small, often-injured player who plays poor defense at every position, offers little power, and has an average walk rate only has so much value in today’s game. If Arraez’s average takes a small step back, even if it’s just due to bad luck, there’s not much he can offer a team that wants to be in championship contention.
Going into his second of four arbitration years, Arraez also isn’t as cheap as he used to be. He will be paid either $5 million or $6.1 million in 2023, depending on his arbitration outcome, and will easily eclipse $10 million by 2025. Arraez’s presence and unique skillset will be missed by the team, but the Twins sold high on what is likely to be a declining asset.
For whatever it’s worth, the general consensus around baseball media seems to be that the Twins won this trade handily.
Baseball Trade Values has the Twins getting more than double the value back that they gave up. A lot of that hinges on Salas, who is still just a High-A prospect at this point, but the initial evaluation makes it look like the Twins maximized their return for Arraez.