Starling Marte Traded to D-Backs from Pirates for Liover Peguero, Brennan Malone

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2020

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Starling Marte (6) in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Starling Marte has been with the Pittsburgh Pirates his entire career, but that will change heading into the 2020 season. 

Pittsburgh has traded Marte and cash considerations to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for shortstop Liover Peguero, right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone and international bonus pool space.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman and Robert Murray reported the Pirates will receive $250,000 in international money in return for Marte. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Pittsburgh will include $1.5 million in the deal.

This decision comes after the Pirates picked up Marte's option for the 2020 campaign, which pays him $11.5 million. According to Spotrac, the contract features a $12.5 million option for 2021 with a $2 million buyout clause.

Even though the National League Central club picked up Marte's option, the outfielder's name was included in trade rumors during the offseason.

Heyman reported the Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres were interested in him. Heyman and Murray also reported the New York Mets were interested in him because they were looking for a "strong defender" and right-handed bat.

Marte fits the bill as someone who developed into a cornerstone of the Pirates franchise. 

He was a 2016 All-Star with a .311/.362/.456 slash line and 47 steals, and he won Gold Gloves in 2015 and 2016 when he was primarily a left fielder. He was responsible for plus-82 total defensive runs saved in left field from 2012-17, per FanGraphs, although he was at minus-nine in center field this past year.

Marte also helped lead the Pirates to the playoffs three straight years from 2013-15. Pittsburgh lost two NL Wild Card Games during that span but won that contest in 2013 before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Division Series. 

There are some concerns that come with Marte outside of his less-than-stellar defense in center field. He is 31 years old and was shut down in September after suffering a wrist injury and played just 132 games in a lost season.

Still, he impressed before the physical setback and slashed .295/.342/.503 with a career-best 23 home runs and 82 RBI. The power has been a welcome development of late seeing how he drilled 20 long balls in 2018 after hitting just seven in 2017 and nine in 2016.

He also still flashed speed on the bases with 25 steals.

While the Pirates are moving in a different direction after they fired Clint Hurdle following nine seasons and three straight years of finishing in fourth or last place in the NL Central, Marte could provide veteran leadership and stability to the Diamondbacks clubhouse in 2020 and beyond.

He brings postseason experience, power at the plate, speed on the bases and a proven glove to the outfield, and he figures to be a key piece in any potential playoff push for a team with enough talent to challenge in the National League West.

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