The Miami Marlins have exceeded expectations so far in 2023. However, to sustain this (and to better position themselves for perennial postseason contention), they’ll likely need to acquire help from outside the organization. Leading up to the August 1 MLB trade deadline, Fish On First will profile potentially attainable players who would fit with what the Fish are building.
The Marlins currently have an open spot in the rotation, so why not target one of the most successful MLB pitchers this season in Marcus Stroman? The veteran right-hander is sporting a 2.88 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 7.66 K/9, and 3.19 BB/9. He just earned his second career All-Star selection.
Stroman, 32, has a deep pitch mix centered around his sinker. He’s averaging nearly six innings per start and has had two career seasons of at least 200 innings pitched.
Stroman has always been a groundball pitcher and he’s taken that to an extreme in 2023. His 58.4 GB% is second-highest among qualified MLB starters behind only Logan Webb of the San Francisco Giants (60.3 GB%). Playing for the Chicago Cubs and their great defensive middle infielders—Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner—has been a great fit.
Stroman’s advanced stats are not quite as impressive as his surface stats, such as the half-run gap between his ERA (2.88) and FIP (3.38). However, he showed the ability to outperform his FIP each of the last three seasons as well. That being said, his current .251 batting average on balls in play is on pace to be the lowest of his career—that part might be unsustainable.
All things considered, Stroman has had a very nice season. Injecting somebody with his regular season track record, playoff/World Baseball Classic experience and enthusiasm into the Marlins rotation would make a lot of sense if the Cubs are willing to move him.
The Chicago Cubs enter Monday with a 43-49 record, eight games back of the nearest NL playoff spot. They own a better run differential than most of the teams ahead of them, but time is running out for them to get hot. FanGraphs gives Chicago only 7.3% odds of making the playoffs.
Although the Cubs have a strong foundation and aren’t going to launch a new rebuild, they have to be realistic about their 2023 chances and think about trading players on expiring contracts. Stroman is under contract for 2024 ($21 million base salary), but he has the ability to opt out of that and test free agency. He is almost certain to do so in order to secure a long-term deal.
It’s been reported that teams such as the Blue Jays and Astros have interest in Stroman, and you’d expect most other contenders to pursue him as well if the Cubs want to turn him into multiple controllable players.
A trade package for Stroman would have to start with one of the Marlins’ very best prospects. With top 2023 draft pick Noble Meyer ineligible to be traded this season and Max Meyer still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, left-hander Jake Eder (No. 3 on our Fish On First Top 30 list) is a possible centerpiece. Craig Mish of SportsGrid reported that many scouts were in attendance to observe Eder’s most recent start. In four outings with Double-A Pensacola this season, the 24-year-old has a 4.74 ERA in 19 innings pitched, but he is showing slight improvement each time he takes the mound after a long injury absence.
Mish previously reported that outfielder Peyton Burdick was discussed between the Marlins and Cubs during Willson Contreras trade negotiations in 2021. Burdick’s value has fallen since then, but he is slashing .241/.348/.514/.863 (110 wRC+) for Triple-A Jacksonville and doesn’t have a clear fit with the Marlins moving forward. Funny enough, Burdick made his major league debut and hit his first career home run at Wrigley Field. Maybe it is meant to be?
Ultimately, this would be risky move for the Marlins because of the team’s unwillingness to spend big in free agency. They would be getting Stroman for the rest of 2023 and that’s it. Also keep in mind that Stroman’s salary for the rest of this season is over $8 million.
Would you be comfortable trading away Eder and Burdick for a rental if it means addressing one of Miami’s main weaknesses?