Why a Baltimore Orioles/Miami Marlins Deal Makes Sense

John Fisher/GettyImages

At the beginning of the offseason, Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias confidently told reporters that the Orioles' top "priority -- hopefully, if we’re able to do it -- is to bring in an established starter for one of the, let’s say, top three spots in the rotation." Disappointingly, that has not happened. Kyle Gibson, who the Orioles signed on the first day of the Winter Meetings, is a fine, veteran pitcher - but he is not the 1, 2, or 3 Elias said he was seeking.

Nearly 1,100 miles south of Baltimore, Kim Ng and the Miami Marlins have been looking to trade from their starting pitching surplus to upgrade their offense. Disappointingly for Marlins fans, that has not happened yet. Instead, the Marlins added another starting pitcher - Johnny Cueto - via free agency, and traded one of their longtime position players - shortstop Miguel Rojas - to Los Angeles.

Exploring a potential Baltimore Orioles/Miami Marlins trade

Mike Elias, meet Kim Ng. Kim Ng, meet Mike Elias.

For what it's worth, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com has confirmed that the two teams are, or have been, in contact. "The Marlins are loaded with starters in the majors and minors, and the Orioles have been in contact with them. There’s motivation to stay in touch. Miami's player asking price might not be a match, though trading Miguel Rojas could help.", Kubatko wrote.

The Orioles need a starting pitcher, and the Marlins have at least four that could, and should, intrigue them: Pablo Lopez (pictured above), Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo, and Trevor Rogers. Sensibly, the Marlins are not looking to deal reigning Cy Young right-hander, Sandy Alcantara. But the four pitchers mentioned above could suit the Orioles: they are all under control for at least two more seasons, are young, and have potential to be even better.

Lopez, who our friends at MarlinsManiac believe is the most likely to be traded, went 10-10 last year, pitching to a 3.75 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 174 batters over 180 innings. He was also worth 3 WAR. The 26 year-old native of Venezuela is under team control for the next two years, and is a sensible target for the Orioles, being the most established of the four putatively available starters, since the Orioles claimed they were looking for players to help them reach the playoffs this year. According to reports, the Marlins have discussed Lopez with the Twins, with position players Luis Arraez and Max Kepler's names coming up in discussions. Nothing appears imminent with Minnesota, however.

Cabrera, 24, is the least experienced option of the four, but perhaps has the highest upside. He made his Major League debut in August 2021, and last season, went 6-4 with a 3.01 ERA and averaged over one strikeout per nine innings. Prospects Live graded his fastball at a 60/80, writing "[d]ouble-plus velocity; sits 95-98 occasionally scraping triple digits. Shows angle to the plate and decent arm-side run. More of an elicitor of weak contact than a swing-and-miss offering. Ability to fill the zone and command the pitch has stepped forward over the past 12-18 months." Cabrera is an extremely attractive trade chip, as he is under team control for six more seasons.

Jesus Luzardo was traded from Oakland to Miami for veteran outfielder Starling Marte in 2021. He pitched well over 18 starts last season, accumulating a 3.32 ERA and striking out 120 batters over 100 innings. In each of his previous seasons split between the Athletics and Marlins, Luzardo averaged over one strikeout per inning and, as a left-hander, would slot in nicely with the Orioles all-righty rotation.

Rogers, 25, was a first round pick of the Marlins in 2017. While he struggled in 2022, Rogers was outstanding in 2021, pitching to a 2.94 ERA and averaging over one strikeout per inning. He is under team control through 2026, and, like Luzardo, should be attractive to the Orioles since he is left-handed.

Meanwhile, the Marlins need offense, and just traded their starting shortstop, Rojas, to the Dodgers. While they signed veteran infielder Jean Segura, he is likely to play third base, leaving shortstop open for an acquisition (yes, the Marlins did acquire a young shortstop for Rojas, but it is unclear if he will start right away.) Enter the Baltimore Orioles. Coming into the offseason, the Orioles' infield appeared set, with Gunnar Henderson at third, Jorge Mateo at short, and Ramon Urias (who can play third and short) at second. However, the Orioles added veteran second-baseman Adam Frazier on a one year, $8 million contract this offseason. Whether he starts the year at third or short, Henderson. is not going anywhere, and Frazier, making $8 million, presumably will draw most of the starts at second base.

That leaves Mateo and Urias, two good players who were worth 3.4 and 3.6 WAR last year, respectively. That is too much value for each of them to not regularly be in the lineup, and opens up the possibility that Elias will (and should) trade one of them. And the Orioles still have top prospects Jordan Westburg and Connor Norby waiting in the wings as even more infield depth. It makes sense to deal one of Mateo or Urias.

The Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles have been frequent trade partners recently. Could they make another deal happen?

While Miami could use an infielder (and the Orioles have excess in Urias and Mateo), they have also been seeking an outfield bat (and more particularly, a centerfielder). Orioles' centerfielder Cedric Mullins has long intrigued Marlins fans and makes a lot of sense as a return for one of their four pitchers; however, the Orioles have shown no signs that they would deal him. A trade of Austin Hays or Anthony Santander could make more sense, which would allow the Orioles to slide Kyle Stowers into a full-time position (and perhaps replace them with Trey Mancini to DH?).

Losing Santander in particular would significantly weaken the offense, as he slugged 33 home runs for the team last year. However, the Orioles will now have full seasons of Gunnar Henderson and Adley Rutschman to potentially fill the void. The Orioles also have top prospect Colton Cowser primed to debut this season, so dealing an outfielder to bolster the starting rotation could make sense.

The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching; the Marlins have that. The Marlins need an infielder and/or an outfielder; the Orioles have that. Roch Kubatko reports that the two teams have spoken regarding a deal. And while the exact pieces for a trade are unclear -1or more of Lopez/Luzardo/Cabrera/Rogers for 1 or more of Urias/Mateo/Hays/Santander - it almost makes too much sense for the Orioles and Marlins to consummate a trade before the season opener on March 30.

Next. Baltimore Orioles Players As Rap Albums: A Study. dark