The MLB trade deadline reached a dramatic conclusion Monday. After a flurry of final hour deals were announced, one stood as a particularly good and efficient trade for the Miami Marlins.
Veteran outfielder Starling Marte was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Not only did the Marlins get a former All-Star outfielder who is currently playing well, they got more bang for their buck, so to speak, as Marte could conceivably play 63 games during this 60-game MLB season.
How Starling Marte added games to his schedule
We know math isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but we promise this math is pretty fun.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the few MLB teams that haven’t had their season interrupted by the pandemic or bad weather. As of Monday, they had played 35 games, second only to the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, who have each played 36.
Of those 35 games, Marte appeared in 33 of them.
On the other side, the Miami Marlins haven’t been so fortunate. They missed nearly two full weeks after a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak, resulting in eight games being postponed and rescheduled.
While Miami has managed to make up some of those lost games, they still have 30 games remaining on their schedule. Only the St. Louis Cardinals (35) and Philadelphia Phillies (31) have more games left to play.
If Marte plays in all 30 of Miami’s remaining games, his stat line will be quite the outlier.
Did the extra games factor into Miami’s deadline plans?
Our own Hannah Keyser posed this question to Marlins’ president of baseball operations, Mike Hill.
Here’s Hill’s response:
You know, we wanted to continue to improve our offense, and to give ourselves every opportunity to support our starting pitching. And so, you know, our number of games obviously we know we have a number of games yet to be played. A number of doubleheaders to be played versus the rest of the league given the postponed games that we had. But the overriding goal was to improve our roster and improve the organization.
Three games is not a lot. At least not in a normal season. In 2020 though, it represents 5 percent of the season for a team that entered Monday tied for the final wild card spot in the NL. That’s not insignificant. And to get those extra games from a player like Marte, who has four seasons with 4.5 WAR or higher, is not insignificant either.
The Marlins will also have Marte under contract in 2021, which helps Hill’s goal to build a winner this season.
Be opportunistic to make deals that make sense that make us better, not just immediately but in the long term as well, because as I've said on numerous occasions, you know every year we show up we want to compete we want to be a playoff team we want to win championships and, and this is not just a one year thing this is something that we want to be hearing about what a sustainable winner.
From an individual standpoint, the extra games won’t help Marte set records or anything along those lines. But the opportunity to add stats could help to some degree the next time he’s seeking a contract.
Maury Wills famously played 165 games for the Dodgers in 1962, but that was a quirk of one team’s schedule. The last player to eclipse the season length because of a trade was Todd Zeile, who played 163 games in 1996, split between the Phillies and Orioles. Frank Taveras played 164 games in 1979 after a trade sent him from the Pirates to the Mets.
Above all else, it’s one of those wonderful quirks that seemingly only baseball can provide.
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