When Marlins outfielder and pending free agent Starling Marte rejected a reported three-year, $30 million contract extension from Miami earlier this month, it assured that the Marlins were going to trade the former All-Star by Friday's MLB Trade Deadline. On Wednesday, Marte was sent to the American League-contending Oakland A's for pitcher Jesus Luzardo. The SportsLine Projection Model has upgraded Oakland's playoff chances by 10 percent.
Marte, who turns 33 in October, is batting .306 with seven homers, 25 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, an excellent on-base percentage of .407 and an OPS of .859 – he has been worth 2.9 WAR on a bad Miami team in just 63 games. The steals rank third in the majors, and his OBP would be fourth if Marte had enough at-bats to qualify. He has reached base safely in 54 of his 63 games and has 19 multi-hit games – including his Marlins finale on Tuesday when he was 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI in a win at Baltimore.
The cost-conscious A's even got the Marlins to cover the remaining $4 million or so on Marte's contract this year, although Luzardo is a very promising pitcher under team control until 2027. Several teams were in on Marte, and one offshore sportsbook listed the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Braves as favorites to land him. The A's weren't even a betting option.
Marte, a 2016 All-Star with Pittsburgh and two-time Gold Glove winner, should take over as the every-day center fielder in Oakland, which would allow Ramon Laureano to move to right field. Mark Canha should stay in left and it shifts Stephen Piscotty to a bench/platoon DH role where he belongs.
As of this writing, Oakland is 56-46 and six games behind Houston in the AL West – although both teams play this afternoon. This move probably isn't enough to catch the Astros but certainly helps in the chase for a wild-card spot. The A's hold the AL's second spot currently.
The SportsLine Projection Model now bumps Oakland from 87.4 wins this season to 88.9, from 4.4 percent chance to win the AL West to 7.7 percent, and from 36.6 percent for the playoffs to 46.6 percent. To win the AL pennant, Oakland is +1000 at William Hill Sportsbook.
Miami's projections didn't really change as Marte was expected to be dealt – the Marlins are forecast to win 75.9 games. Luzardo, 23, is 2-4 with a 6.87 ERA this year but that's misleading as the lefty has a very high ceiling.
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