Central Concerns: Twins trade Luis Arraez to Marlins for Pablo López, prospects

Pablo Lopez (All-Pro Reels Photography)
Pablo Lopez (All-Pro Reels Photography)

Shortly after this morning’s Spare Parts went live, I realized I forgot to add the video of Johnny Cueto’s introduction to the Miami Marlins, which made me miss him even more.

However, we learned this afternoon why the Marlins signed Cueto to their stuffed rotation, so now we can roll that tape.

By signing Cueto for one year and $8 million, they were able to trade Pablo López to the Minnesota Twins (along with shortstop Jose Salas and outfield Byron Chourio) for Luis Arraez.

It’s a fascinating trade from Minnesota’s side, because it kinda addresses needs while kinda inviting risk.

The Twins finally acquired a pitcher capable of throwing 150 innings, as López threw 180 of them for the Marlins in 2022. He went 10-10 with a 3.75 ERA, striking out 174 batters over 53 walks. It was his third year as a formidable pitcher, but his first truly full season. The pandemic season limited him to 11 starts and 57 innings, and then dealt with a rotator cuff strain in July of 2021, resulting in only 20 starts and 103 innings. He doesn’t reach free agency until after the 2024 season.

Assuming López has regained his durability, he ascends to the top of the Twins rotation. The question is whether he’s enough of a difference-maker, because you could argue the Twins tried something similar with Sonny Gray last year, and his brand of not-dominant pitching didn’t really make a dent.

It cost them Arraez, who not only won the batting title for the Twins while hitting .316/.375/.420, but also led the team in plate appearances (603), with only Carlos Correa coming close (590). The Twins had durability on both sides of the ball, and it does stand a chance of weakening their first base/DH mix if Jose Miranda and Alex Kiriloff can’t cut it. That said, he has a history of knee problems and struggles to keep his ISO above .100. The former makes it hard to know if he can hold down a middle-infield spot, and the latter makes it hurt if he can’t.

(The Marlins intend to start Arraez at second, with Jazz Chisholm Jr. moving to center field.)

While the present value may wash out, the addition of Salas sweetens the deal for the Twins. He was fourth on Baseball America’s Marlins Top 10, but he was 93rd on Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospects list that came out today. He’s enjoyed success being young for A-ball levels thus far. He doesn’t turn 20 until April, and while there are some doubts about his switch-hitting and ability to stick at shortstop, the fact that he’s starting with the high-degree-of-difficulty stuff gives him plenty of margin for error. Chourio hit .344/.429/.410 in the DSL as a 17-year-old in 2022.

The White Sox may or may not enjoy facing López, depending on whether they’re able to make any strides against right-handed pitching, but they definitely won’t miss dealing directly with Arraez. He hit .327/.366/.393 against them over 58 games, including a .373/.420/.480 line in 18 games and 81 plate appearances last year.

He was especially lethal in clutch situations. He hit 16-for-33 against the White Sox with runners in scoring position, and he also notched the single that ended Dylan Cease’s no-hit bid with one out to go in September.

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  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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a-t

“Formidable” is maybe a strong word for Lopez— the ERA looks good, but Miami’s home park is very pitcher-friendly. He’s never cracked 3 fWAR, and he’s projected for 2.4 in 159 innings via the Marlins ZiPS projections that came out earlier today. Nothing that’s gonna keep me up at night.

Augusto Barojas

Gray’s best days are probably behind him, but he’s only 33 and might be a decent rebound candidate. On paper they now have a decent 1-2-3 with Lopez, Gray, and Mahle at the top of the rotation, potentially. If Mahle has better health and regains some of his 2021 form, that would certainly be true.

Interesting that both the Guards and Twins have 5 right handed starters. I don’t think an accident, the Sox obvious achilles heel is not lost on other teams. Even though neither team is all that great, the Sox stand to lose a disproportionate percent of games against them because of that.

Figuring out how to beat the Sox is not difficult. Other teams pay attention to the Sox weakness, while the Sox do not.

Last edited 1 year ago by Augusto Barojas
FishSox

Sort of strange that both David Price (the human rain delay) and Sonny Gray flamed out so early.

Augusto Barojas

Gray hasn’t flamed out completely. He threw a low number of innings last year (120), but had an ERA in the low 3’s, a WHIP of just over 1.1, WAR of 2.4. That’s a lot better than Lynn last year in the same number of innings, or Giolito in more.

In looking at the Twins rotation now, it looks a lot better than heading into last year for sure. The Sox are counting on pitching rebound candidates, the Twins have a couple of their own that could make them a lot better too. While I still think the Sox will finish ahead of the Twins, I think the Twins will be closer to the Sox than the Sox will to the Guardians. The Sox have 26 games against those two teams, all against RHP barring injuries. Unless Colas is amazing, you would think the Sox will be lucky to split the season series with either of them. Probably more like 10-16 or 11-15 in those 26 games is my guess. I seriously doubt it will be much better than that.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

It is not a given that Hahn is even aware of how poorly they do against right handed starters. Jerry pays him to keep the payroll low and avoid big contracts, not analyze matchups.

Honestly it would not surprise me that this has not crossed Hahn’s mind once this offseason. Seriously. There is no reason to believe it has troubled him since 2020.

I’m sure he is aware.

a-t

He repeatedly mentioned “left-handed” bats as targets this offseason, specifically for LF and 2B. This is stupid; it’s also something you can learn instantly from FanGraphs platoon splits. I can guarantee that every single team (besides mb the Rockies?) is capable of using the most basic of publicly available sabermetric data.

LamarHoyt_oncrack

What’s stupid is having the same weakness for 3 straight years and doing nothing about it.

Augusto Barojas

It’s pretty likely Hahn is aware. But his actions 3 straight offseasons are no different than if he was not. I mean what has he done to address? Eaton, Lamb, Harrison the prior two winters, and Benintendi replacing Abreu this winter, which is a small net negative against RHP. Literally nothing.

It should have been their top priority, was easily fixable, and instead was totally ignored. Harper, Springer, Semien (55 homers past two years vs RHP), or Schwarber would have been partial answers. Anyway their failure has been beaten to death and can be attributed to two very unlikable people.

upnorthsox

Benintendi replace Pollock, we haven’t replaced Abreu.

Bonus Baby

Replacing Abreu with Benintendi gives the Sox more than +1 expected fWAR this year.

Vaughn goes to 1st, with Benintendi in the OF, and they instantly gain around 2.5 WAR in defense alone. Abreu’s bat is nowhere near important enough to somehow make this an overall negative for them.

I don’t get why people keep looking at this as “we no longer have Abreu’s exact offensive numbers in one lineup spot, so we must be worse.”

Augusto Barojas

Benintendi has posted a WAR of 3 or higher twice in his career. Abreu has only posted a WAR below 3 twice. Benintendi is not Abreu’s equal, in WAR, or as a hitter, or vs RHP. At best his defense will offset some of that, but if given the choice I’d take Abreu with Vaughn in left over Vaughn/Beni, in a heartbeat.

Last edited 1 year ago by Augusto Barojas
Bonus Baby

The defense offset 2.5 WAR last year.

2.5 WAR. Maybe you think Abreu will outproduce Benintendi by 2.5 WAR offensively this year. I do not, nor do any projections anywhere.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bonus Baby
Augusto Barojas

I may have to concede your point, although it is also inarguable that they will be at least slightly worse offensively vs RHP which is their primary weakness. Of all the things that they failed to address (and for 3 years running), that one will be their undoing and almost completely shuts down their chances of winning just about any series in October if they even get there, basically. Just boggles my mind that they did not do something signficant about it since 2020, in all that time and with so many opportunities.

a-t

It’s not inarguable, lol. Benintendi put up a 132 wRC+ vs RHP last year, Jose put up a 135 wRC+. Jose is obviously a greater offensive talent overall, but replacing him with Benintendi weakens them much more vs LHP than RHP. Which no one cares about, (1) obv we see many more RHP than LHP and (2) it’s still true that the core of the Sox lineup eats left-handers alive. Benintendi for Abreu was a serious upgrade, and that’s not taking into account any potential offensive benefit to Vaughn for not having to lumber around the outfield.

Last edited 1 year ago by a-t
gibby32

I love Jose and was in favor of keeping him and trading Vaughn until I saw Jose’s contract with Houston. The idea that Jose at first and Vaughn in left is better overall in 2023 than what the team has now at those two positions is nothing short of ridiculous.

PauliePaulie

Puts a lot of pressure on Kirilloff to reach his potential.
Although still lacking a #1, the Twins now have some decent SR depth.

Last edited 1 year ago by PauliePaulie
shaggy65

This is a savvy trade for a well-run Twins org. Their lineup just got a little weaker, but their overall team is definitely stronger.

phillyd

Not sure their overall team is definitely stronger. I’d like to see how the change in home parks effects López and I think Arraez is a better player regardless.

Augusto Barojas

I thought was bad trade for the Twins initially since I agree that Arraez is the better player. But their pitching was so weak that it’s probably a net win for them. Lopez is replacing a really bad pitcher, whoever their 5th starter would be without him. That’s a big difference, probably bigger than the loss on offense for them.

It also gives them another solid RHP. A good chance that could be worth 1 more win in their head to head vs the Sox.

ForsterFTOG

The Marlins intend to start Arraez at second, with Jazz Chisholm Jr. moving to center field.

😱

Augusto Barojas

Even if the Twins had a decent rotation, which the addition of Lopez doesn’t give them by himself, they have a decidedly mediocre offense just like the Sox. I doubt they do all that well, although “well” is only relative to this hapless division where anything is possible.

dongutteridge

Looks like a good trade for Minny extracting prospects from a desperate Marlins franchise.

The Twins are loaded with quality infield bats in the bigs and the minors.

They really needed a good solid starter and they just got one.

Division is now tougher for the Sox to win.

a-t

Quality infield bats? Idk. Correa and Polanco are a real nice MIF combo, but they’re really depending on Kiriloff and Miranda at the corners, who are talented but haven’t yet shown offensive performance to justify their defensive issues.

Also, the Twins needed a true TOR guy and got Lopez. I’m not concerned about them.

dongutteridge

Royce Lewis is coming back. They have Kyle Farmer. And, Julien and Brooks Lee are moving fast.

They will be fine without Arraez. Not saying he isn’t good.

Last edited 1 year ago by dongutteridge
Adam

I’d bet on the established star over prospects though. Arreaz is a great talent. Batting champ at 25. Left handed nuisance. The prospects you mentioned may amount to something. However, if you go back to the 2013 top mlb 100 prospects you’ll find Profar at the top followed by Dylan Bundy, Billy Hamilton hanging at 11 right in front of Miguel Sano. Top prospects are very often misses. Go through those lists and see how many top 100s don’t even make a small dent. Im thrilled Arreaz is gone.

As Cirensica

The problem with Arraez is that he is basically a DH with zero power. His glove work is atrocious. Marlins are brave to try him at 2B

a-t

Not really, the advanced stats show he was terrible his rookie year at 2B but that he’s been about average there since.

Nellie Fox

The white sox are watching the twins, Indians and royals get better and the Sox best is to spring training with Garcia at second base? Go figure.

RayHerbert

Where did you hear that Garcia is favored to start at second?

BillyKochFanClub

Royals?! Their only moves are Aroldis Chapman, Jordan Lyles, and Ryan Yarbrough. That’s two relievers with a 4.50 ERA and xFIPs over 4.70 last season and Jordan Lyles, who just matched his 2nd best fWAR of 1.4. I’m pretty frustrated with the Sox once again not addressing the same holes they’ve had for years, but we wouldn’t have been happy with any of the moves the Royals made.

670WMAQtheElder

Marlins wanted a hitter and the Twins wanted a SP. Did either team really get better? Wants and needs are two different things.

steelydan52

So the Sox signed a 31 year old pitcher from an Independent League who had a 5.27 ERA. In an Independent League. 31 years old. 5.27 ERA.
Ricky boy is giving a whole new meaning to dumpster diving.

hitlesswonder

Is it Roy Hobbs?

steelydan52

In all fairness his name is Mike Morin and he has pitched almost 229 Major League innings through the years with a 4.57 ERA.
I’m still waiting for Hahn to make a trade or 2. Or 4.

bobsquad

Low key hoping Mike Morin is our our Arson Judge. By which I mean I hope he turns out to be Mike Minor, lefty starter and longtime White Sox nemesis.

GrinnellSteve

Katz’ll fix him.

Foulkelore

Not just any independent team, but the local Kane County Cougars. Someone on staff probably took their kids to the September 10th game when he pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out 2, and called this scouting.

steelydan52

And the kids are the scouts that suggested him.

Holland23

I know a company who has a ‘kids board’ they get to judge ideas and new potential products. They come up with fresh ideas and call bs when no grown up dares to do so. I actually think the Sox might benefit from having kids judge their decisions.

Dennis

As usual, the off-season brings a lot of chatter as to tweaking the roster. Signing free agents, making trades, promoting prospects, etc generates a ton of discussion in these comment sections. And as Sox fans observe other teams seemingly trying to get better with these types of acquisitions, we bemoan the Sox lack of action regarding filling even the most obvious holes. I’m on the bandwagon with Colas getting a shot in RF, but scratch my head that 2B is still unaddressed (except for in-house maybes). Rolling with Grandal at catcher and hoping for Graveman or Lopez to sub for Hendriks seems risky for a team with postseason aspirations.
The lack of significant trades by the Sox seems to get whisked away with the explanation that they are slim in the prospect supply. But what about the possibility of trading from the major league roster? And I don’t mean a sell-off for yet another rebuild. Would swapping out a Giolito before he bolts, or an Eloy before he gets hurt again, or a Sheets who is relegated to a bench player, or Anderson, or Moncada, …you get the picture. I’m not saying gut the team, but if the Sox had the AL bat champ Arraez, they would have never had the guts to trade him….Minny did.