Two teams squarely in playoff contention exchange right-handed relievers.
Shortly after the conclusion of Wednesday’s game, the Miami Marlins swapped veteran right-handed relievers with the Minnesota Twins, sending Dylan Floro up north in exchange for Jorge López. The trade is official (first reported by Craig Mish of SportsGrid).
The Marlins had a clear need for right-handed bullpen help, but they’re giving up one of their best MLB righties in the process of addressing that, and López is actually having a worse 2023 season than Floro.
Floro was Miami’s best setup man in April. Since then, however, he’s had awful results on balls in play, making him untrustworthy in high-leverage situations. Overall, his three seasons for Miami were an unmitigated success (3.32 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 32 SV in 157.1 IP).
The Puerto Rican López struggled for much of his major league career—toggling between starting and relieving—prior to his 2022 breakout. He was among MLB’s elite bullpen arms from April-June of that season, ascending to the closer’s role with the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s shipped him to the Twins prior to last year’s trade deadline.
Similar to Floro, López was very successful earlier this year, posting a 0.00 earned run average in April. Things spiraled out of control from there, though. He allowed 15 earned runs in 15 innings from May through mid-June before being placed on the injured list to take care of his mental health. He made eight appearances between that IL stint and this transaction (8.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR).
Now in his age-30 season, López still has upper-90s fastball velocity and a deep pitch mix. His upside is significantly higher than Floro’s. However, his strikeout rate dropped dramatically after leaving Baltimore and has not recovered. Also, after posting one of the league’s highest groundball rates last year (58.0 GB%), he’s fallen relatively close to the league average (47.7 GB%).
Against right-handed batters, López relies heavily on his sinker and slider. Against lefties, he’s been going mostly with four-seamers, curveballs and changeups. All five offerings have generated multiple strikeouts for him in 2023. Of course, it’s possible that Mel Stottlemyre Jr. and the Marlins coaching staff will suggest changes to this approach given his recent struggles.
No doubt an important consideration for the Marlins: López has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining (Floro was a pending free agent). Floro ($4.2M) and López ($3.53M) are making comparable salaries in 2023.
With the trade deadline still six days away, the López acquisition will not preclude the Marlins from continuing to pursue relief help, Craig Mish tweets. Adding to the starting rotation and offense are also priorities.
More updates to come…