Marlins Unlikely To Move Jesus Luzardo, Bryan De La Cruz

The Marlins are open to offers on center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. and will have multiple bullpen pieces available in the next three weeks, but they’re not planning to move anyone and everyone on the roster. Craig Mish of the Miami Herald reports that the Fish aren’t going to move lefty Jesus Luzardo until he’s fully healthy again, which likely points to an offseason trade or even a deal at next year’s deadline. Mish adds that Bryan De La Cruz and Jesus Sanchez are both likely to stay in South Florida as well. De La Cruz has already drawn interest, but he and Sanchez are both controllable through the 2027 season.

With regard to Luzardo, the notion of holding onto him is rather straightforward. The talented 26-year-old is on the 60-day injured list due to a stress reaction in his lower back. That 60-day term will extend beyond the July 30 trade deadline. Trading Luzardo right now would require selling low, and for a pitcher of his caliber with two remaining seasons of club control, that’s not a palatable course of action. It’s likely possible that a club could still obtain Luzardo by blowing the Marlins away with an offer commensurate with that of one for a healthy Luzardo — but it’s also highly unlikely a team would make that type of offer with Luzardo ailing.

Beyond that, the southpaw simply didn’t pitch up to his capabilities prior to landing on the shelf. Perhaps that back injury played a role, and Luzardo also had a brief IL stint for some elbow tightness early in the season. Whether he’s been fully healthy at any point this season isn’t clear, but the lefty has been tagged for a 5.00 ERA in 66 2/3 frames.

It’s an unflattering mark, though a 21.2% strikeout rate and 8% walk rate are both portents for some improvement. And it’s of course important to emphasize how good Luzardo was in the two prior seasons; the former third-round pick who once rated as the sport’s top left-handed pitching prospect started 50 games and notched a 3.48 ERA with a huge 28.7% strikeout rate and sharp 7.9% walk rate in 279 innings from 2022-23. He averaged 96.7 mph on his heater in those two years, though this year’s average fastball dipped to 95.5 mph — still a strong mark but a red flag for a pitcher who hasn’t been at his best.

If Luzardo is able to return from his back injury in the second half and close out the year in good health, then offseason interest should be robust. He won’t turn 27 until Sept. 30, still boasts a power arsenal, is only earning $5.5MM this season and is controlled through 2026 via arbitration. That type of pitcher should command a significant prospect haul — the type that’s extremely unlikely to be available when Luzardo is on the 60-day IL and questions about his ability to recover from this back injury persist. Luzardo has reportedly continued to draw interest while on the injured list, but it’s safe to presume the offers aren’t close to what they’d be if he were healthy and performing as he did in 2022-23.

As for the pair of outfielders, neither is a household name but both De La Cruz and Sanchez have shown some upside with the bat in the past. They’re both having below-average seasons at the plate in 2024 but have roughly average batting lines in their careers to date. De La Cruz is 27 years old. Sanchez is just 26.

De La Cruz is hitting .237/.286/.410 this season (94 wRC+). He’s popped 15 home runs and is on pace for a new career-high, but his 26% strikeout rate and 6% walk rate both offset some of that solid power. Sanchez is hitting a comparable .239/.291/.386 (92 wRC+) with nine home runs. He strikes out a bit less (23.6%) and walks at a similar 5.8% clip. Both players have notable platoon splits. The left-handed-hitting Sanchez is batting .270/.323/.445 against righties but just .091/.130/.159 against lefties (albeit in only 44 plate appearances). The righty-hitting De La Cruz has hit lefties at a .288/.318/.464 pace but floundered to a .210/.269/.380 line against righties.

There’s a case for the two to simply be platooned, and perhaps on a deeper roster that’d be how they’re utilized. But the Marlins are thin on outfielders as it is, and trading one or both Sanchez and De La Cruz — likely at a fairly low rate — would only further expose that deficiency. With three seasons of remaining club control apiece, there’s no urgency to move either. A big second half or strong start to the 2025 season could increase the trade value of either player.

Sanchez, in particular, has displayed some tantalizing batted-ball metrics that could signify the potential for growth. He’s averaged a whopping 93.5 mph off the bat this season with a huge 51% hard-hit rate. Those figures rank in the 96th and 94th percentile of MLB hitters, respectively. It’s also worth noting that current Marlins president Peter Bendix knows Sanchez well from his prospect days in the Rays system, where Bendix previously served as general manager. (Although that also means that Bendix was in the Tampa Bay front office when Sanchez was traded for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards.)

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Title: Marlins Unlikely To Move Jesus Luzardo, Bryan De La Cruz
Author: Steve Adams

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