The Top 10 Landing Spots for Marlins' Pablo López amid MLB Trade Rumors

Brandon ScottJanuary 4, 2023

The Top 10 Landing Spots for Marlins' Pablo López amid MLB Trade Rumors

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    MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 02: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on October 02, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
    John Fisher/Getty Images

    With the Miami Marlins benefitting from excess starting pitching, Pablo López is one of their expendable arms currently on the trade market.

    What the Marlins really need is drastic improvements at the plate. So, parting ways with López, who turns 27 in March and is under team control through the 2024 season, is a reasonable idea.

    López (10-10, 3.75 ERA, 174 K, 1.17 WHIP) would be an immediate upgrade to any staff. Yet some teams more than others should be looking to add him to their rotation.

    Here, we take a look at the top landing spots for López, considering past interest, team needs and likelihood of getting a deal done.

San Diego Padres

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    MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 17: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch during the second inning against the San Diego Padres at loanDepot park on August 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
    Eric Espada/Getty Images

    Count the Padres as another ambitious franchise looking to turn the corner in 2023.

    Trading for Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and Josh Hader ahead of last year's deadline should give baseball fans a good enough sense for how hard the Padres are trying.

    They also have three really good pitchers at the top of their rotation in Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove. Beyond that, it gets a bit shaky and uncertain.

    It's why San Diego's interest in López, reported by The Athletic's Dennis Lin, makes so much sense. Musgrove is the only Padres starter signed through 2024, so the pitching needs will have to be addressed soon.

    Trading for López makes the Padres better immediately and also provides some insurance for the following season while they continue making future plans.

    The Padres have to keep taking swings to maximize this window.

Chicago Cubs

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    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 06: Starting pitcher Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins delivers the baseball in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 06, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
    Quinn Harris/Getty Images

    Don't let the Cubs' apparent starting pitching depth fool you. It's possible they lose Marcus Stroman, Kyle Hendricks and Drew Smyly after this coming season. Stroman and Smyly have player opt-outs, and there is a good chance the Cubs decline their option on Hendricks.

    Insert López, who has two more seasons of team control and a chance to audition as a potential long-term piece in Chicago.

    The Cubs' staff also flirted with the bottom third of teams in key pitching stats last season, finishing 20th in ERA (4.00) and 22nd in WHIP. The unit could use an upgrade and some stability beyond this season as they try to accelerate their rebuild.

    It's been a decent offseason for Chicago, which added Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger in free agency. Both have World Series pedigree. Swanson led the star-studded free-agent shortstop class with a 6.4 fWAR, and they can only hope Bellinger recaptures his former NL MVP form.

    But the Cubs will only go so far without improving on the fifth-lowest fWAR among major league pitching staffs.

Texas Rangers

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    MIAMI, FL - JULY 21: Miami Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez (49) makes the start for the Marlins during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, July 21, 2022 at LoanDepot Park in Miami, FL (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    The Rangers entered the offseason in desperate need for upgrades to their rotation. As a staff, Texas ranked 22nd in ERA and tied for the sixth-highest WHIP last season.

    Signing Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi in free agency and trading for Jake Odorizzi should go a long way toward improvement.

    Combined with last offseason's signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, it also shows their commitment to getting out of the American League West cellar and actually competing toward the end of the season.

    Can you ever really have too much pitching if you're seriously trying to win? Ask Odorizzi, who was traded away from a pitching surplus in Houston last deadline. For all the focus on the Astros' rising stars like Jeremy Peña and Yordan Alvarez, it's the gluttony of pitching that really put them over the top.

    Texas brought back ace Martin Pérez on a one-year qualifying offer. But López has another two years of team control and makes Pérez a more expendable trade piece next season.

Cleveland Guardians

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    CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 23: Starting pitcher Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 23, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    The Guardians are an interesting potential landing spot. On the surface, they don't appear to need López.

    Cleveland, which shocked the baseball watching world by winning the AL Central last season, had the fifth-lowest WHIP (1.16) and tied with Atlanta for the fifth-lowest ERA in baseball (3.46).

    It was the Guardians' lack of power that really stood out as a weakness of the team down the stretch.

    Still, López would upgrade their rotation significantly, likely slotting in as their third starter and bumping down Cal Quantrill to the fourth spot.

    Shane Bieber and Quantrill are entering just their second arbitration years, while Triston McKenzie is still pre-arbitration, under team control through the 2026 season.

    Trading for López would lock up a young, club-controlled rotation that would undoubtedly be the best in the AL Central.

Baltimore Orioles

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    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - AUGUST 04: Starting pitcher Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins throws to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 04, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Orioles were supposed to be transitioning from surprise team to contender this offseason after showing they were further along in the rebuild than expected.

    They made a dramatic turnaround in 2022, going from 52 wins the previous season to 83 wins and knocking on the door of the postseason.

    But they have done very little in free agency. Hopes of fortifying a middling pitching staff have fallen flat, and the only way to impact this area appears to be via trade.

    López is going to be more affordable than a Corbin Burnes or Shane Bieber. He makes the most sense in terms of a reasonable asking price for a prospect package.

    The Orioles had back-to-back seasons with the top preseason farm system rankings and should have the capital to entice Miami.

St. Louis Cardinals

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    ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 27: Miami Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez (49) pitches during a MLB game between the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals on June 27, 2022, at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO.  (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),
    Icon Sportswire

    As mentioned in a previous writing, it's important for the Cardinals to separate themselves from the rest of the loaded, top-heavy National League besides just replacing Yadier Molina with Willson Contreras.

    While they were never seriously in the market for one of the high-end free agents like Justin Verlander or Jacob deGrom, the Cardinals whiffed on the more realistic Carlos Rodón.

    St. Louis also missed out on mid-tier starters like Taijuan Walker, Jameson Taillon, Chris Bassitt and Tyler Anderson.

    To make matters worse, in-season trade acquisition and Game 1 starter in the wild-card series José Quintana joined the Mets this offseason.

    López would help a rotation at least hoping to tread water in a healthy National League.

Boston Red Sox

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    Miami Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez looks at a replay after New York Mets' Pete Alonso hit a three-run home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
    AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

    The Marlins and Red Sox are perfect trade partnerss.

    Miami needs some pop in the lineup after ranking 27th in OPS and 28th in runs scored, while Boston has been largely inactive in free agency.

    The Red Sox signed Japanese star outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million deal and picked up closer Kenley Jansen. But they also watched franchise icon Xander Bogaerts leave for the San Diego Padres.

    López would improve a Boston pitching staff that ranked 25th in ERA and WHIP. The Red Sox pitchers also ranked in the bottom third of baseball in fWAR.

    The Marlins are interested in Red Sox first baseman prospect Triston Casas, according to Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. Casas, who turns 23 this month, is considered one of the top 50 prospects in baseball.

    Ideally, Miami could use its rotation surplus to pair with either veteran Joey Wendle or Miguel Rojas to pry Casas from Boston, but the Red Sox understandably appear reluctant to part with such a talented prospect.

    It's worth keeping an eye on.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 06: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at loanDepot park on July 06, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    One of the major remaining questions for the Dodgers going into the 2023 season is whether they have enough starting pitching.

    Remember, this is a staff that dealt with injury issues last year and still managed to post the lowest ERA and WHIP in baseball. The Dodgers' flaws still couldn't them winning 111 games and boasting the game's most accomplished staff statistically.

    Yet it is still fair to ask whether adding Noah Syndergaard to a rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May is good enough.

    Kershaw had two stints on the injured list last year with back injuries, and it's not like he's getting any younger. May just recently returned from Tommy John surgery, while Gonsolin has not pitched a full season since 2019. Walker Buehler is also now recovering from his second Tommy John surgery since 2015.

    López would provide the Dodgers with some depth and a potential safety net for a staff that, while elite, has some health concerns.

    Keep in mind, he was a Dodgers target at the trade deadline last year but the two teams couldn't agree a deal with the Marlins asking for a big return, per Mark Feinsand of

New York Yankees

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    MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 21: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins in action against the New York Yankees at Marlins Park on August 21, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
    Mark Brown/Getty Images

    The Yankees and Marlins have already talked about a López trade, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, but New York thought the price was too steep at the time.

    That, of course, was before they were dominated by the Houston Astros in the ALCS. The season ended in a sweep against the eventual World Series champions, who do not appear to be going away any time soon.

    It's now clear the Yankees have to do something to close the gap, all while fighting through one of the tougher divisions in baseball.

    Rosenthal reported the Marlins asked for second baseman Gleyber Torres and shortstop Oswald Peraza for López, a price the Yankees were unwilling to pay at the time.

    Are the Yankees even less inclined to make a deal for López after signing Carlos Rodón, or would they view a trade for López as truly distinguishing themselves from the team that fell short last season?

Minnesota Twins

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    Miami Marlins' Pablo Lopez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
    AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

    The Twins' rotation had its share of health issues last year. As an organization, they were unable to land or retain either Carlos who was on the market.

    The Athletic's Dan Hayes reported that bringing back shortstop Carlos Correa was their main goal, however unachievable it seemed. The Twins also had their eyes set on Carlos Rodón, but he instead signed with the Yankees.

    In early December, Ted Schwerz of TwinsDaily reported Minnesota and Miami were "engaged in discussions" regarding López.

    Since Miami so badly needs offense, the Twins might have to part with AL batting champ Luis Arraez, whom Minnesota would consider trading for top-tier pitching, according to Hayes.

    Here is an example between Minnesota and Miami of both teams having what the other feels like it needs.