Miami Marlins acquire star OF Starling Marte from Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Starling Marte
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins are buying at the MLB trade deadline, striking a deal to land star outfielder Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for three players.

Marte, who Arizona acquired during the offseason, joins starting pitcher Robbie Ray as the second Diamondbacks’ player to be traded on Monday.

Starling Marte traded to Miami Marlins

Marte, an All-Star selection in 2016 and a two-time Gold Glove Award recipient, is a significant addition for the Marlins. The club entered Monday with a 14-15 record, holding a slight edge over the Philadelphia Phillies for a wild-card spot.

The trade, first reported by MLB reporter Craig Mish, will send pitchers Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and Julio Frias to Arizona.

While Arizona hoped to contend this season, a struggling lineup and issues in the rotation led them to sell at the trade deadline. The club didn’t plan to exercise the $12.5 million team option on Marte for the 2021 season, thus choosing to deal him on Monday.

Smith is the headliner in the deal for Arizona. The 29-year-old southpaw has appeared in just one game this season, allowing six walks in three innings. He then landed on the COVID-19 injured list and while he is closer to a return, he remains on the IL more than a month later.

Before the 2020 season, Smith was largely effective in Miami’s rotation. While he finished 2019 with a 4.52 ERA, he posted a 3.50 ERA with a .201 batting average allowed in the first half of the season. Smith is arbitration-eligible through 2023, before becoming a free agent in 2024.

Mejia, 23, made his MLB debut this season for Miami after not appearing above High-A before this year. In 10 innings, he has struck out 11 batters with six runs and 13 hits allowed over that span. Frias is not among the Marlins’ top-30 prospects.

Starling Marte’s stats, impact on Marlins’ lineup

While the Marlins will still have a decision to make on Marte’s club option, which carries a $2 million buyout, he will make an impact immediately. The 31-year-old outfielder found success in Arizona, despite the players around him struggling.

Across 33 games this season, Marte held a .311/.384/.443 slash line with an impressive .827 OPS. He recorded five stolen bases on the year with two home runs, eight doubles and 23 runs scored. He should hit near the top of Miami’s lineup and will be more effective on the bases than Jonathan Villar, who was just traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.

While Smith was a valuable trade chip for Miami, he was expendable due to its immense depth of young pitching. The Marlins have surprised this season and they have a legitimate shot at playing in October, with those odds further improved following the trade for Marte.