As the offseason has progressed, the Baltimore Orioles have been one of the top teams projected to bring in an ace pitcher. The Orioles have come up as potential landing spots for free agent starters like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, as well as potential trade partners with the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians for Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber. One of the lesser-discussed names that could be available on the trade market is Jesus Luzardo from the Miami Marlins.
Luzardo hasn't drawn as much attention because he has not yet become an established ace. After breaking into the majors in 2019 with the Oakland Athletics, Luzardo had a solid rookie season in 2020 finishing eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
He struggled in 2021 with Oakland, pitching to a 6.87 ERA in 13 appearances (six starts) before being traded to Miami for Starling Marte mid-season. Luzardo wasn't much better in Miami that season but the Marlins helped him figure something out. He became a full time starter for the Marlins and he responded by having a breakout season in 2022.
Luzardo started in all 18 of his appearances in 2022 and had career bests in innings pitched (100.1), ERA (3.32), K/9 (10.8) and HR/9 (0.9). The only negative about that season was that he was not able to stay healthy as he missed two and half months with a left forearm strain, but he showed no ill effects from that injury and finished the season strong.
Luzardo proved that 2022 was no fluke in 2023 when he posted very similar numbers in 32 starts as he was able to stay healthy all year. He is the type of player the Orioles should be targeting since he's only 26 years old and entering the prime of his career with three years of team control left on his contract.
The Orioles should target Jesus Luzardo. Do any of these proposed trades make sense?
Brian Dunleavy from Marlin Maniac (a sister site of Birds Watcher) has proposed a trade that would send Luzardo to Baltimore in return for Anthony Santander and Jordan Westburg. Santander would fill a need in the Marlins outfield for a consistent right fielder and a productive bat. Santander's 28 home runs would have been second on the Marlins behind Jorge Soler, who is no longer with the team, with his 41 doubles and 95 RBI's being far greater production than any Marlin last year.
Westburg would fill the void at shortstop according to Dunleavy. While O's fans think of Westburg as a second/third baseman, Westburg was primarily a shortstop in the minor leagues and is more than capable of playing the position. He would likely provide depth to the Marlins lineup in the bottom third of the order to start the year, but Westburg has the potential to blossom into a very good major league hitter.
As a fan, I would be very happy to see this trade go through. It would be hard to see Santander go after all that he has done for the Orioles and Westburg could be a star in the making, but Baltimore has deep pockets when it comes to position players. This trade would fill a need for both teams. Dunleavy also mentioned the Marlins adding in Avisail Garcia for Jud Fabian but I don't see the Orioles going for that.
A second trade proposal comes from Kade Kistner of SI.com and he suggests the Orioles send prospects Coby Mayo and Samuel Basallo to Miami for Luzardo. As much as the Orioles could use a starter like Luzardo, this seems like an overpay.
Kistner does not go into much detail but he suggests the trade should be agreeable to the Orioles because they have so much young talent. The O's will have to make some trades to get all of their minor league talent to the majors, but they will look to get an equal return value, and this does not feel equal.
It may end up costing the Orioles more than Santander and Westburg to get a talent like Luzardo, but it should be less than Mayo and Basallo. The one thing Kistner does have right is that the Orioles have a lot to work with when making a deal.
The Birds missed out on a chance to trade with the Marlins last offseason to try and get Pablo Lopez. Hopefully, they will be more aggressive this year and won't let this opportunity pass them by.