After a disappointing 69-93 season in 2022, the Miami Marlins went into this offseason with one clear goal: Add more offense.
Last season, the Marlins posted modest totals at the plate — .230 batting average, .294 on-base percentage, and a .363 slugging percentage — as a team, good for 28th, 27th, and 28th in Major League Baseball, respectively.
On the other hand, the team’s pitching staff, anchored by National League Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, boasts an embarrassment of riches both at the major league and high levels of the minors.
“Everyone knows and we’ve talked about it quite often, wanting to add offense this offseason,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said in a press conference. “We’re willing to trade some of our pitching to do it.”
That is the exact formula the team followed in acquiring Luis Arraez from the Minnesota Twins for the Marlins number two starting pitcher Pablo Lopez and an organizational top-10 prospect, infielder Jose Salas.
“Look, I think when you trade anyone, it’s difficult, particularly when you trade a guy like Pablo. Just a first class guy,” Ng said of the trade.
However, her assessment of Arraez is as laudatory as it is simple: “What we get in Luis Arraez is a very good hitter.”
Arraez, last year’s American League batting champion, is indeed a very good hitter, and he represents a change in philosophy from the front office. Last offseason, the marquee names brought in, Jorge Soler and Avisail Garcia, sought to add power at the cost of higher strikeout rates. Arraez is a step in the opposite direction.
Arraez is among the best in all of baseball at avoiding strikeouts and making contact. He boasts both an exceptional strikeout rate (7.1%) and misses just 7.6% of the pitches he swings at, both fewest in the MLB. When he does make contact, his Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was top 20 in baseball, and the spacious confines of his new home, loanDepot Park, should be even friendlier to his BABIP skill.
Marlins fans will not have to wait long to see Arraez in action. However, it will not be in a Marlins uniform. Arraez will represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic in Miami next month. It is likely that he will lead off for Venezuela in their first game against the Dominican Republic and his new teammate Sandy Alcantara at loanDepot Park on March 11th at 7 p.m.
The WBC will not be the last marquee matchup featuring Alcantara and Arraez as the Marlins open the 2023 season against the New York Mets. Opening Day will pit Alcantara against the American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, and Arraez angaint NL Batting Champion Jeff McNeil.