In one of the more surprising moves of Major League Baseball's 2020 trade deadline, the Miami Marlins have agreed to acquire outfielder Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Arizona is receiving pitchers Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and Julio Frias, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Marte, 31, played well during his brief stay in the desert. He hit .311/.384/.443 (123 OPS+) with two home runs and five stolen bases (on seven tries) in 33 games. He figures to be a big upgrade for the Fish, who have just one healthy outfielder (Matt Joyce) with an OPS+ higher than 100.
The Diamondbacks originally acquired Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates over the winter in exchange for right-hander Brennan Malone and shortstop Liover Peguero. Nonetheless, the Diamondbacks did not appear interested in exercising his club option for next season, which calls for him to make $12.5 million.
Smith, 29, has not appeared in a regular-season game since July 25 for undisclosed reasons. The Marlins were, of course, in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak at the time. He solidified himself in his first two seasons in Miami as a mid-rotation arm. In 44 starts prior to 2020, he posted a 93 ERA+ while striking out 10 batters per nine innings. Smith is under team control through the 2023 season, and, in a sense, serves as a Robbie Ray proxy. (The Diamondbacks traded Ray to the Toronto Blue Jays earlier on Monday.)
Mejia, 23, made the leap earlier this year from High-A to the majors. In three starts, he allowed 13 hits and six earned runs while tossing 10 innings. He primarily pitched off his low-90s fastball and pair of breaking balls. The Diamondbacks will likely continue his development as a starter, though there's a real expectation that he ends up pitching in relief.
The Marlins entered Monday with a 14-15 record, good for a tie for second place in the National League East with the Philadelphia Phillies. Under the expanded postseason rules, all first- and second-place teams will make the playoffs. For the Marlins, this would represent their first trip to the tournament since they won the 2003 World Series.