A star the Miami Marlins should target in a potential trade with Pittsburgh

Oneil Cruz
Oneil Cruz / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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There's potentially something brewing between the Miami Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates. I'm hoping that Peter Bendix is going to get the best possible return, if a trade actually goes down. Pittsburgh has 5 top prospects, but it would be better to focus on Major League help in any trade return. There is one player that Pittsburgh might not want to trade, but that The Fish should absolutely focus on. Is it realistic? Probably not, but what if?

Can the Miami Marlins acquire SS Oneil Cruz from Pittsburgh?

It's clear that the Miami Marlins need a SS, yet none have been acquired so far for this upcoming season. With the rumored talks with Pittsburgh, Oneil Cruz stands out pretty easily as a trade target. The young SS had an intriguing 2022 season. That season saw him bat .233/.294/.450, with 17 home runs and 54 RBI in 87 games and 331 AB. He was injured last season, but did manage to bat .250/.375/.375, with a home run and 4 RBI in 9 games and 32 AB prior to injury.

Let me be clear for a second, it seems as if the Bucs see Cruz as a foundational piece. I do personally wonder if they'd be amenable to a trade in the right circumstances anyway. I may also be a bit high on the return from The Fish. Jason Mackey's (Pittsburgh sports writer) recently deleted leaked article on a trade between the two teams had a far lower return for The Fish for the same player we're about to propose. Please keep that in mind, as you read this!

It's pretty obvious that Oneil Cruz has serious contact issues. Plate discipline is a big area of improvement for him. On the flip side, his career EV is a strong 91.9. He has power and given enough AB's, could be a 30 homer threat on an annual basis. He also clearly fills a position of need for The Fish. The 25 year old won't hit free agency until after the 2028 season.

It's also pretty obvious that he's very valuable to the Bucs as mentioned earlier. Would they value a cost-controlled starting pitcher over him? Or would they see Cruz as just too valuable to trade? Ideally, The Fish would trade starting pitcher Edward Cabrera and more for him. Cabrera has a 1.8 career WAR and Oneil Cruz has a 2.5 career WAR. It would've been higher without injury of course. Cabrera is also a free agent after the 2028 season. I see a match here as Cabrera has the ceiling of an ace, though his control is an issue. Oneil can be an elite SS, but can also have serious issues with his contact.

Of course, one needs to have a lower valuation of Oneil Cruz and a higher valuation of Edward Cabrera to make that trade possible. Personally, I see Cabrera as an ace if his control is fixed. I also see Cruz's contact issues as pretty significant and ceiling lowering. It's certainly likely if not definite, that Pittsburgh sees Cruz as a legit star and Cabrera as simply a bottom of the rotation starter with a high strikeout rate. One can dream however.

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