Meet the Marlins: Starling Marte
Meet the Marlins: Starling Marte
Apr 24, 2024 3:12 AM

The Miami Marlins entered MLB’s 2020 Trade Deadline day looking to be opportunistic. The team currently holds a playoff spot, something that haven’t been able to say since 2003. Their 17-year playoff drought is the second-longest current span in MLB. To make that playoff push, the Marlins reportedly acquired veteran outfielder Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The deal, which saw LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Humberto Mejia and Class-A LHP Julio Frias go to Arizona, came on the same day the team traded away Jonathan Villar. Marte adds a solid right-handed bat with speed to the Marlins lineup.

Meet the Marlins: Starling Marte

A 9-year veteran, Marte signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. Marte moved quickly through the Pirates’ system and made his MLB debut in 2012.

In eight years with Pittsburgh, Marte played mostly left field and earned an All-Star berth in 2016. He’s earned two Gold Gloves in his career and left Pittsburgh after seven-straight seasons with at least 20 steals, including five over 30 and two over 40.

After his trade to Arizona, Marte moved primarily to centerfield. He’s been a productive bat for the Diamondbacks, despite the team’s struggles. He came over to bolster the lineup of a potential contender but that never came to fruition for Arizona.

In 2020, Marte’s slash line is .311/.384/.443, and his OPS stands at .827. Versus left-handed pitching, something the Marlins have struggled with this season, he’s hitting .379 with a .920 OPS. Marte’s been really good with runners in scoring position, hitting .300 with a .753 OPS. And when he’s ahead in the count, he’s been awesome: .424 batting average and 1.346 OPS.

The Marlins have Marte under contract through 2021, as his contract contains a $12.5MM club option (a $1 million buyout for 2021). His addition to the lineup will replace whatever speed was lost in the Villar trade. Marte immediately becomes one of Miami’s best bats and should be a difference maker in the field.

Leaving the Marlins are Smith, Mejia and a Single-A reliever prospect.

Smith, Mejia and Frias Sent to Arizona

The Marlins acquired Smith from the New York Yankees in 2017, along with Garrett Cooper, for RHP Mike King. Over two seasons (and one start in 2020) with the Marlins, Smith 15-17 4.39 ERA over 233.2 IP and 45 starts. He had a 1.245 WHIP and looked like a dominant power lefty at times.

Smith, though, lost time to injuries during his time with the Marlins. He landed on the 60-day IL in 2018 with left shoulder tightness. In 2019, hip inflammation landed him on the IL as well. In 2020, Smith lost time to COVID-19.

Humberto Mejia surprised many with his performance in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Mejia made three starts for the Miami, ultimately posting a 5.40 ERA over 10 IP. His record was 0-2, but he didn’t give up more than three runs in any start.

At 23-years-old, Mejia signed as an amateur free agent out of Panama. He wasn’t anywhere near as heralded as some of the other pitching prospects in the system, but he showed promise. That promise may have been what led to this trade coming together.

Julio Frias signed as an international free agent with the Marlins in 2014. At 22-years-old, Frias sports a power lefty arm and has solid strikeout numbers but hasn’t pitched above Low-A.

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