Padres acquire 2-time batting champ Luis Arráez in trade with Marlins

The Marlins receive RHP Woo-Suk Go, 1B Nathan Martorella, OF Dillon Head and OF Jakob Marsee in return for the second baseman

Luis Arraez is joining the San Diego Padres. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

The San Diego Padres have acquired two-time batting champion Luis Arráez from the Miami Marlins, the team announced Saturday morning.

The Marlins received RHP Woo-Suk Go, 1B Nathan Martorella, OF Dillon Head and OF Jakob Marsee in return for the second baseman.

A two-time All-Star, Arráez won a league batting title each of the past two seasons. He slashed .354/.393/.469 with 10 home runs and 69 RBI in Miami last season, all career highs. Before that, he won the AL batting title in 2022 with a .316/.375/.420 slash line while playing for the Minnesota Twins.

In 33 games with Miami this season, Arráez slashed .299/.347/.372 with five RBI and zero home runs.

Arráez joins a Padres team with an established infield featuring veterans Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado. He could split time between designated hitter and rotating into the San Diego infield. He leaves Miami after spending a season-plus with the Marlins. He played his first four MLB seasons with the Twins before being traded to the Marlins in January 2023.

The Padres are off to a 17-18 start that's good for second in the NL West, and they sit 4.5 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. The arrival of Arráez bolsters their lineup as they project to compete for an NL wild-card berth.

Meanwhile, the Marlins are off to one of the worst starts in baseball at 9-25. They'll add four pieces for the future with little hope of competing this season.

Is anyone remotely surprised that AJ Preller was the GM willing to take a big swing on a win-now trade months before the deadline? Or that the Marlins, off to a terrible start and heading full-steam toward a rebuild, would jump at the opportunity to flip a veteran for a package of prospects? No and no. The players involved in this rare May blockbuster, however, are certainly intriguing.

For starters, why exactly do the Padres need Arráez? Over the season's first month, San Diego has looked far weaker on the mound (22nd in ERA+) than in the lineup, where the Padres are top-10 in MLB in both runs per game and OPS+. That said, with Manny Machado seemingly ready to return to third base full-time after offseason elbow surgery, the DH spot he has occupied for much of April has opened up without an obvious candidates to fill it.

And while this offense has looked strong at times, it could use another lefty stick — that Juan Soto fella isn’t around anymore, remember? Arráez is a fascinating bat to acquire, but he won’t provide even a fraction of the power that Soto did — Arráez currently leads all of MLB as the hitter with the most plate appearances with zero homers — but the 27-year-old unquestionably possesses an elite offensive skill in his ability to make an exceptional amount of contact. This is already an area in which San Diego excels at as a team, and Arráez will accentuate that further.

Wherever manager Mike Shildt chooses to slot him in the lineup, Arráez will be an added headache for opposing pitchers already tasked with navigating around legitimate star bats such as Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. Even if he barely slugs, I think Arráez will make this lineup markedly more challenging for opponents. With him under contract through next season, it’s hard to know quite how Arráez fits into the Padres' already super-crowded infield plans, but 2025 means little right now. This is about adding a good big-league hitter and raising the floor of the roster by any means necessary — in this case, by trading away players who could certainly help Miami someday.

The first thing to acknowledge about the Marlins' side of this trade is that a lot has changed since Miami acquired Arráez from Minnesota for right-hander Pablo Lopez ahead of the 2023 season. That was an attempt to transform the Marlins' pitching depth into sorely needed offense as the team tried to win. In a sense, it worked: Arráez hit .354, and the Marlins made the postseason. But as we now know, not a lot has worked out for Miami beyond that, including Lopez blossoming into an ace for the Twins. Still, it's nonsensical to compare this package of prospects to Lopez, considering the goal of an Arráez trade now: to jumpstart a rebuild with prospects who can help for years to come, rather than fix a short-term problem like Arráez was brought in to do.

With that in mind, I think Miami did pretty well. Go, one of the best closers in the KBO over the past half-decade, signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with San Diego this past offseason but failed to make the team out of camp and has been pitching in Double-A to start the year. Despite his extensive pro experience in Korea, the right-hander is just 25 years old; I expect to see him make his MLB debut at some point later this year as the Marlins try to figure out just what he can be.

Marsee, a sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan in 2022, starred in last year’s Arizona Fall League (1.215 OPS, league MVP) but has scuffled in Double-A to start this season. He projects as a speedy fourth outfielder with strong OBP skills.

While I wouldn’t consider any of these prospects to be sure-fire regular contributors down the road, I think Martorella and Head could turn out to be the real prizes here. Head was the 25th overall pick just last year out of a Chicago-area high school, standing out in his draft class for his exceptional speed in center field and his exciting bat-to-ball skills, with the hope that more power could come as he adds strength in pro ball. He isn't off to a scorching start in Low-A, but he’ll be 19 for the whole season and has plenty of time to adjust to the pro level and start climbing back up prospect lists.

Lastly, Martorella is a first baseman all the way. He has mashed since his college days at Cal and continues to demonstrate a really polished approach with a .392 OBP in Double-A over the first month. It’s not quite as much thump as you’d like in a first baseman, but he’s a really advanced hitter whom Miami will now try to help graduate to the big leagues over the next year or so. For a system starved for any semblance of offensive potential, all three of these hitters made plenty of sense for Miami to target in a deal such as this.