Jesús Luzardo is not the most obvious trade candidate. There was some buzz about Miami looking to move one of their young starters, but the Marlins have plenty of reasons to keep Luzardo. Yet all the reasons the Marlins have to keep him, are the same ones that could help Miami acquire quite the haul for his services.
The New York Yankees made a statement very recently. In acquiring Juan Soto, the organization indicated the depth of its aggressiveness in pursuing a championship in 2024. Soto by itself is a monumental add, but by all accounts, Brian Cashman and company are far from done this offseason.
With that in mind, even if you have the willingness from the front office, and ownership, to be aggressive, there are only a few players who will meet the criteria you’re looking for. We know Yoshinobu Yamamoto is the priority in the search for another front-line starter, but on the chance that doesn’t come to fruition, a surprising trade target might be in order.
Luzardo checks about as many boxes as a target could, which increases his price tag in a potential trade, but it’s also a reflection of just how valuable of an addition he’d be. At first glance, it doesn’t seem that the Marlins should feel compelled to move Luzardo. While they do have a fair amount of talented arms, beyond Eury Perez, he is easily their best healthy starter with Sandy Alcántara injured, and he’s also controllable for three more years.
With that being said, the Marlins have just gone through a change in the front office and there have been reports of trade interest in the prized lefty. Trade interest doesn’t indicate he’s being shopped. However, there haven’t been initial indications that he isn’t “untouchable”, as Perez is.
That’s all you need to know to at the very least thoroughly consider the opportunity, especially when you’re talking about such a talented and affordable pitcher. Luzardo came over to the Marlins in the Starling Marte trade, and after major struggles in his time in Oakland, the southpaw found himself in Miami at the beginning of the 2022 season. Across the last two campaigns, Luzardo has tossed 279 innings of work and delivered a 124 ERA+ with a 1.15 WHIP. After missing significant time in 2022, Luzardo managed to stay healthy for a full year in 2023, notching over 200 strikeouts in 178.2 innings in 32 starts.
The path for a Luzardo deal is a narrow one, but it’s not entirely unfeasible that the Marlins would at least entertain the right offer. Even though they made the playoffs last year, the Marlins still lack offensive firepower, and they could look to add there. It is always a difficult task to speculate on specific packages in trades because every organization sees things a little differently, and there are a million different permutations a baseball trade can take. Understanding that, you could discuss a bat like Gleyber Torres, along with some of the Yankees’ talented outfield prospects, as appealing options for Miami. It makes so much sense that it has happened before, back when Miami shopped Pablo López. In fact, that deal was rather close to happening.
Obviously, if the Yankees have to give up talented bats for Luzardo, or any significant package of talent, they’ll have to weigh whether it’s worth it. Luzardo has a high ceiling, one he nearly reached last year. He’s a 26-year-old that has one of the hardest fastballs from the left side of any starter in the game, and just posted a 125 ERA+ in a full season. He has impact talent, the kind that you can envision starting and winning a playoff game, but that kind of talent is costly.
That’s part of why the Yankees’ Yamamoto pursuit feels so high stakes; if they miss out on him, there will be few impact starters left on the free agent market, and they may be forced on doling out a significant prospect package in order bring in a high-end starter. Someone like Luzardo would fit great in the Yankee rotation, but would also come with a high cost. If they miss on their top target, they’ll have to pivot quickly to start entertaining all other options.