The Red Sox have emerged as a potential trade partner for the Marlins, according to a recent report from Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald.
The Marlins, per Jackson and Mish, are interested in acquiring first baseman Triston Casas from the Red Sox and would apparently be open “to dealing a significant player on their roster” in order to do so.
Casas, who turns 23 later this month, batted .197/.358/.408 with one double, five home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored, one stolen base, 19 walks, and 23 strikeouts in his first 27 games (95 plate appearances) with Boston last season after being called up from Triple-A Worcester in early September.
The Red Sox originally selected Casas — a Miami-area native — with the 26th overall pick in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School in nearby Plantation, Fla. The Marlins owned the 13th overall selection in that summer’s draft and could have selected Casas, but they instead took high school outfielder Connor Scott.
It seems as though Miami is now regretting its decision and would not be against bringing in Casas to inject some life into a lineup that scored the fewest runs per game (3.62) in the National League last year. While the Marlins struggled offensively in 2022, their starting pitching was an area of strength. As such, Miami — as noted by Jackson and Mish — could look to deal from its surplus of arms in order to make a trade happen.
While reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara and top prospect Eury Perez are believed to be off limits, the Marlins do have several intriguing rotation options. Jackson and Mish, in particular, list right-handers Pablo Lopez and Edward Cabrera and left-hander Trevor Rogers as pitchers Miami would need to include in a deal for a player such as Casas.
Lopez, 27 in March, posted a 3.75 ERA and 3.71 FIP with 174 strikeouts to 53 walks in 32 starts (180 innings) for the Marlins last season. The native Venezuelan is under club control through the end of the 2024 campaign. Cabrera, 25 in April, pitched to a 3.01 ERA (4.59 FIP) with 75 strikeouts to 33 walks in 14 starts (71 2/3 innings) for Miami last year. The Dominican native is under team control through 2028.
Rogers, on the other hand, turned 25 in November and is coming off a 2022 season in which he struggled to the tune of a 5.43 ERA (4.35 FIP) with 106 strikeouts to 45 walks over 23 starts spanning 107 innings of work. The southpaw was limited to just four outings after July 25 due to a bout with back spasms and a season-ending left lat strain sustained on Sept. 17.
Prior to that, though, Rogers made some noise in his first full season with the Marlins in 2021 by earning an All-Star selection and finishing second in National League Rookie of the Year voting. The former first-round draft pick out of Carlsbad High School in New Mexico is under club control through the end of the 2026 season.
If the Marlins are serious about trading for Casas, it would likely take more than a one-for-one swap involving one of the three aforementioned pitchers. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. should have no real motivation to move Casas, who is not eligible for salary arbitration until 2026 and is under team control through 2028. That is particularly true after Boston released veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer last month when it could have retained him as an insurance policy for Casas.
With Hosmer out of the picture, Casas currently projects as the Red Sox’ everyday first baseman this coming season. If the Sox were to trade the left-handed hitter, Christian Arroyo, Bobby Dalbec, and Justin Turner all represent in-house options to take over starting first base duties.
While the chances of the Red Sox dealing Casas this winter seem low, it goes without saying that they could use more controllable starting pitching. In response to losing Nathan Eovaldi to the Rangers and Rich Hill to the Pirates in free agency, Boston agreed to a one-year deal with veteran starter Corey Kluber last week.
Kluber, who turns 37 in April, figures to join a rotation mix that includes Chris Sale, James Paxton, Nick Pivetta, Brayan Bello, Garrett Whitlock, and possibly even Tanner Houck. Plenty of question marks pop up when going over this group since Kluber and Sale are no longer the workhorses they used to be, Paxton has not made a start since April 2021, Pivetta has proven to be inconsistent at times, and Bello, Whitlock, and Houck are all still relatively young.
In short, it’s a starting rotation that has boom-or-bust potential and adding on to it via trade certainly wouldn’t hurt. Given the likelihood of the Red Sox’ not wanting to move Casas, Jackson and Mish report that Ceddanne Rafaela is another Boston prospect the Marlins have their eyes on.
Rafaela, 22, was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster in November after a standout season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland. He is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect and possesses the ability to play both center field and shortstop at a high level defensively.
While Casas has already seemingly put himself in position to be part of the Red Sox’ plans in 2023, the same cannot be said for Rafeala, who has yet to play at the Triple-A level and still requires further development as far as his plate discipline is concerned.
Having said that, Jackson and Mish relay that the Marlins are prioritizing making improvements to their big-league roster as opposed to their farm system this offseason. Though Rafaela is undoubtedly talented, he figures to be more of a factor in the majors in 2024 unlike the already-MLB-ready Casas.
This is not the first time the Red Sox and Marlins have been linked in trade rumors this winter. Last month, Chad Jennings of The Athletic reported that the two clubs had discussions involving infielder Joey Wendle. Shortly thereafter, Ken Rosenthal (also of The Athletic) wrote that Boston had also asked Miami about fellow veteran infielder Miguel Rojas.
Both Wendle and Rojas turn 34 before the end of April and will be eligible for free agency at the end of the 2023 season. Either one would provide the Red Sox with experienced infield depth.
To put this all together, it seems like a larger, multi-player swap between the Red Sox and Marlins has at least been discussed in recent weeks. That is not to say a trade is imminent, but it should be interesting to see if the two sides can get together on a possible deal before Opening Day in late March.
(Picture of Triston Casas: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)