Rumors are starting to pick up steam with MLB Winter Meetings entering their third day. Most of the reports centered on Shohei Ohtani and the Yankees’ pursuit of Juan Soto, however we learned from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic in the lead up to this week that the Marlins were drawing interest on a pair of starting pitchers. Yesterday, I investigated Edward Cabrera as a potential trade target and today I’d like to take a look at his teammate Trevor Rogers.
2023 Statistics: Four starts, 18 IP, 4.00 ERA (114 ERA+), 4.09 FIP, 4.33 xFIP, 24.1 percent K%, 7.6 percent BB%, 0.3 fWAR
2024 FanGraphs Depth Charts Projections: 24 starts, 131 IP, 4.07 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 23.6 percent K%, 8.3 percent BB%, 1.8 fWAR
Contract Status: Projected to earn $1.75 million in first year of arbitration eligibility, free agent following 2026 season.
Selected by the Marlins with the 13th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the Marlins saw enough to hand him his debut after just two seasons of pro ball, leapfrogging him from Double-A to the majors where he pitched to a 6.11 ERA in seven starts during the 2020 shortened season.
Rogers announced himself as one of the next potentially great starting pitchers with an outstanding 2021 campaign. Among pitchers with at least 130 innings, he finished second in FIP (2.55) behind only Corbin Burnes, sixth in ERA (2.64), and tied with teammate Sandy Alcantara for 14th-best fWAR (4.3). It was enough to earn him a runner-up finish in NL Rookie of the Year balloting behind the Reds’ Jonathan India, but more importantly gave the Marlins yet another top-end starter under affordable team control for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, things went downhill from there for Rogers, producing a 5.47 ERA — though he managed a much better 4.36 FIP — in 23 starts in 2022 before having his season cut short by a left lat strain. It would go from bad to worse in 2023, as Rogers was only able to make four unremarkable starts before missing the majority of the season with a left biceps strain suffered during his April 19th start as well as a separate strain of his right lat.
It goes without saying that 2021 should serve as a blueprint for Rogers to return to form. He leaned heavily on a four-seamer that graded out as the ninth-best in the league with a +16 Run Value per Statcast. Though thrown at roughly league average velocity, Rogers leverages his 6-foot-five-inch frame to place in the top quartile in release extension, resulting in a heater that gets on the hitter quicker than the velo would suggest.
What’s more, Rogers’ four-seamer has placed in the top-10 in horizontal movement vs average in two of the last four seasons, running armside between 60 and 80 percent more than your typical four-seamer thrown at that speed. This allowed him to accrue the 11th-most value on fastballs on the edges of the strike zone as the devilish lateral movement bore the pitch in on the hands of righties. He also possesses a wicked changeup that exhibited the 13th-most vertical movement of any change in 2021, dropping 5.4 inches more than a typical change thrown at that speed, generating a .199 average against and whiffs on over a third of swings.
The injuries are of course a concern — there’s significant risk in entrusting a rotation spot to a pitcher who finished the season on the shelf in consecutive campaigns. However, that none of these injuries required major surgical intervention is reassuring in and of itself, suggesting that the structural damage was limited in scope.
Compared to his teammate Cabrera, Rogers is the eminently more affordable trade candidate. He comes with three years of team control versus Cabrera’s five and is further removed from a successful season than Cabrera. That being said, the Marlins are not as flush with starting pitching as they have been over the last half-decade and therefore may look to extract a better price from this reduction in supply. While it would be foolish to rely on Rogers as a stalwart of their 2023 rotation, the Yankees could see this as a buy-low scenario with one of the higher ceilings of any starting pitcher available this winter.