What Starling Marte Trade Means for Oakland Athletics & Miami Marlins

What Starling Marte Trade Means for Oakland Athletics & Miami Marlins article feature image
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Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Starling Marte

One of the top offensive players on the market is on the move to the Oakland Athletics as the Miami Marlins have agreed to trade Starling Marte out west.

According to multiple reports (first by Craig Mish), Oakland acquired the center fielder in a boost to a playoff chase that sees the A’s six games back of the Astros in the AL West and one game up on the Mariners for the second wild card spot. The A’s sent former top pitching prospect Jesús Luzardo to Miami in return.

Prior to the trade, Oakland was +2500 to win the World Series at DraftKings, +1000 to win the pennant and +750 to win the division. Houston was -1400 (bet $1400, win $100) to win the division.

Despite holding a current playoff spot, Oakland was +165 to make the playoffs and -200 to miss them.

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Marte is hitting .306 on the year with seven home runs and 22 stolen bases in 63 games for the Marlins. His .859 OPS is well above his career average of .795. He’s set to be a free agent at the end of the season.

It’s unclear how he’ll slot into an outfield which already features Ramon Laureano in center field.

Luzardo struggled in 13 appearances in the majors this year with a 6.87 ERA, but he finished eighth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2020. He was ranked as a top-10 prospect in all of baseball by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America entering 2020. He joins a pitching staff of budding stars in Miami, including Sixto Sánchez, Max Meyer, Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers and more.

It’s the second move this week for Oakland, which also added left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin in a deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Read more below for our expert’s analysis of the trade.

BJ Cunningham’s Trade Reaction

Adding Marte to A’s is a big boost because to this point in the season Matt Olson and Mark Canha have basically carried their offense, as they are the only ones with a wOBA over .345. Also, Oakland hasn’t been getting much production from Seth Brown or Stephen Piscotty in right field, who both are hitting below .210 and have wOBAs below .305. 

Marte is having the best season of his career in 2021. He has a .375 wOBA, .305 batting average, 140 wRC+, and 3.3 WAR. He also has raised his BB% up 11.6%, when throughout his entire career he had never been above 6.1%. 

From a pitch value perspective, Oakland is one of the worst teams in baseball against breaking pitches, as they have a negative run value against sliders, cutters, and curveballs. Marte himself has a +5.3 run value against sliders and a +1 run value against cutters, so that will be a boost to their offense.

Defensively, Marte is an upgrade to Stephen Pistcotty who had -6 DRS already this season, while Marte is +3. 

Marte is a free agent at the end of the season and trading one of your best young pitchers signals the A’s are all in trying to make the playoffs.

Sean Zerillo’s Trade Analysis

The Marlins might end up as the long-term winners in this deal, acquiring a high-ceiling pitcher in Luzardo under team control through the 2025 season; the same timeline as current rotation pieces Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez. 

Breakout rookie Trevor Rogers and a recovering Sixto Sanchez are under contract through 2026. With top-50 prospects in Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer excelling in the high minors, Miami has oodles of quality starting pitching depth for the foreseeable future – and they are high on my futures radar for 2022. I love what Kim Ng is building in South Florida. 

For the remainder of the 2021 season, this trade increases Oakland’s “True Talent” projection by roughly 1.2 wins in my rankings. Combined with their acquisition of Andrew Chafin earlier this week, I have increased Oakland’s power ranking from 86.2 wins to 87.7.

The Kendall Graveman deal bumped Houston from 94.9 to 95 wins in those True Talent rankings, so I would still project the Astros as a much better team than the Athletics – even if the season restarted tomorrow.

In terms of a prorated 2021 win total, I would project the AL West Race by a similar margin:

  • Houston: 97
  • Oakland: 88.5
  • Seattle: 81.6
  • Los Angeles: 81
  • Texas: 62.4

The A’s still have a lot of ground to make up in their division, and they’re mostly fighting for a Wild Card spot at this point. 

This trade pulls Oakland ahead of the Blue Jays (86.1 True Talent) and closer to the Yankees (88.3) in my current True Talent projections – and it increases the gap in my prorated 2021 Wild Card projections as we head down the stretch run:

  • Tampa Bay: 93.8 (projected AL East Champion)
  • Boston: 93.4 (projected AL Wild Card No. 1)
  • Oakland: 88.5 (projected AL Wild Card No. 2)

  • NY Yankees: 86.3 
  • Toronto: 84
  • Seattle: 81.6

Marte was a below-average defender in center field for both the 2019 (-8 Defensive Runs Saved) and 2020 seasons (-2), but he has rebounded to rank eighth amongst center fielders (+3) in 2021. He hasn’t played extensive time in a corner since 2017 but figures to rate as an average defender, at worst, which represents a substantial upgrade over Stephen Piscotty (-6 DRS).

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