The Marlins have made another big move to try to bolster their starting rotation.
The team on Thursday acquired starting right-handed pitcher Dan Straily in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for three minor leaguers, including two of their top prospects in power pitchers Luis Castillo and Austin Brice. The Marlins also gave up minor-league outfielder Isaiah White.
Straily, 28, went 14-8 with a 3.76 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 191 1/3 innings (31 starts, 34 appearances overall) for the Reds last season.
Straily would join Edinson Volquez, Wei-Yin Chen, Tom Koehler and Adam Conley in the team’s projected starting rotation this coming season. But Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Jeff Locke, Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino would also compete for spots, and that one — or even two — could end up in the bullpen as long relievers.
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“We have said throughout the offseason with our acquisitions, we were looking at ways to shorten the game,” Hill said. “I think whomever the players are who aren’t a part of that five-man rotation will still pitch valuable innings for us because they represent bridges to get us to the back end of our pen.”
It was a buy-low, sell-high move for the rebuilding Reds, who claimed Straily off waivers last spring and took advantage of his best big-league season by dealing him to the Marlins for prospects. One national baseball analyst, ESPN’s Jim Bowden, termed it a “lopsided” trade in favor of the Reds. But the Marlins are in win-now mode.
“We got what we wanted,” Hill said. “We wanted Dan Straily. We felt like we wanted to add another starter to our depth.”
Straily, a fly-ball pitcher, gave up 31 homers last season, tied for the most among National League pitchers. But Hill said Marlins Park should help bring that total down.
“I don’t think he’ll be giving up 31 home runs in spacious Marlins Park,” Hill said.
Castillo, 24, is the Marlins’ fifth-ranked prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, and went 8-6 with a 2.26 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 26 games (131 2/3 innings) last season while splitting time at the Double-A and Single-A Advanced levels. Castillo was originally traded last year to the Padres in the deal that brought starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to Miami, but Castillo was later traded back to Miami when Rea injured his elbow in his first start for the Marlins.
Because Straily is four years from free agency, he becomes the “controllable” pitcher the Marlins were hoping to acquire when they traded for Rea.
“Straily was always a target,” Hill said.
Brice, 24, made his major-league debut for the Marlins last season and went 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings.
White, 20, a left fielder drafted in the third round by the Marlins in 2015, hit .214 with one home run and 17 RBI in 173 at-bats last season at the Single-A Short Season level.
The trade leaves the Marlins’ already-thin farm system that much weaker.
“Yes, we have traded a lot,” Hill said of giving up prospects. “But we feel like in doing so we’ve gotten quality in return.”