The Marlins and Twins executed a long-rumored trade Friday, with American League batting champion Luis Arraez heading to Miami for right-hander Pablo Lopez and a pair of prospects, it was announced.
The deal, variations of which the teams have discussed for months, brings a much needed bat to the Marlins, adding to their winter signing of Jean Segura, who’s expected to play third base.
The cost was significant, though. In addition to Lopez, a talented starter who slots in toward the top of Minnesota’s rotation, the Marlins will send shortstop Jose Salas and outfielder Byron Chourio, two well-regarded teenagers, to the Twins.
“We’ve talked about it quite often, wanting to add offense this offseason,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “We’re willing to trade some of our pitching to do it. What we get in Luis Arraez is a left-handed, very good hitter.”
Arraez, 25, is a career .314 hitter with unparalleled bat-to-ball skills in the modern game. Last season, he made the All-Star team and finished 13th in AL MVP balloting after hitting .316/.375/.420, scoring 88 runs and registering more walks (50) than strikeouts (43). He is not a free agent until after the 2025 season.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Arraez is the first player to win a batting championship and then be traded in the offseason since Rod Carew won the AL batting title in 1978 with the Twins and then was traded to the Angels ahead of the 1979 season.
“Anytime you have a player that’s well liked in the environment, who you know is going to go work and do it every day, which we got to see with Luis, it makes it harder,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We’d love to have Luis and Pablo on our team, but to get something as impactful as what Pablo brings to our team, you have to give something impactful.”
Arraez joins a Marlins team with a strong rotation headlined by National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara. Miami’s lineup, however, struggled mightily last year, with injuries sidelining second baseman Jazz Chisholm while free agent signees Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler disappointed.
Ng said Chisholm, who has played middle infield exclusively during his big league career, will move to center field to make room for Arraez as the full-time second baseman.
Arraez also has experience at first base — where he played more than any position last year — or a corner-outfield slot.
Arraez said he was taking a nap after a workout when the trade occurred.
“I was surprised, but this is baseball,” Arraez said. “This is a business. I’m ready to go now. I’m a Marlin and I’m excited to be here.”
Minnesota, meanwhile, can slot young slugger Jose Miranda at first base or play him at third and use Alex Kirilloff at first. Lopez joins a rotation with Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan and a grab bag of other possibilities, from Chris Paddack — who just signed a three-year extension — to Tyler Mahle, Bailey Ober, Josh Winder, Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak.
Falvey told reporters that the Twins have discussed a six-man rotation but weren’t “ready to stamp that yet.”
“I’m really excited about coming to this team, the leaders they have in the clubhouse and the players they have to support each other,” Lopez said on a video interview with reporters. “It’s a mentality that really motivates me too. I ask and expect more of myself when it comes to my performance and the ways I can help out the team.”
Lopez, 26, threw a career-high 180 innings last season over 32 starts and registered a 3.75 ERA. He has long been a favorite of statistically inclined teams such as Minnesota for his ability to strike out batters (9.2 per nine innings over the past three seasons), limit walks (2.6 per nine over the same period) and keep the ball in the park.
“When you trade anyone it’s always difficult, particularly when you’re talking about someone like Pablo,” Ng said. “Just a first-class guy, tremendous human being. He’s done a lot for the Marlins organization.”
Salas, 19, is a borderline top-100 prospect, signed out of Venezuela for $2.8 million in 2019 after growing up in the Orlando area. He finished last season in High-A and is likely to start there again this year.
Chourio, 17, is a center fielder who hit .344/.429/.410 for the Marlins’ Dominican Summer League team last season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.