Marlins, A's swap former first-round picks

Lefty Puk heads to Miami; outfielder Bleday joins Oakland

February 12th, 2023

MIAMI -- In a trade involving former first-round picks, the Marlins bolstered their bullpen on Saturday night by acquiring left-handed reliever from the A's for outfielder .

Puk, who turns 28 in April, compiled a 1.15 WHIP, a 120 ERA+ and four saves in 62 outings in 2022 -- his first full season in the Majors. He recorded 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings and career lows for walks per nine innings (3.1) and hits per nine innings (7.2). Puk held left-handed batters to a .153 average, with just three extra-base hits in 85 at-bats.

According to Statcast, Puk ranked in the 96th percentile for extension and 90th percentile in fastball velocity (96.6 mph). He paired the heater with a slider that he threw 38.2 percent of the time and tallied a 37 percent whiff rate.

The sixth overall selection in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida, Puk is a converted reliever who won't become arbitration-eligible until after the 2023 season and a free agent following '26. A former top prospect, he was named the A’s Organization Pitcher of The Year in 2017 and ranked third in all of Minor League Baseball with 184 strikeouts.

Puk does have an injury history, undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018 before returning for his MLB debut as a reliever in '19 (139 ERA+ in 10 games). He didn't pitch in '20 due to left shoulder surgery, then he missed some time in '21 with a left biceps strain.

Over the past two weeks, Miami's bullpen has added All-Star closer Matt Barnes from Boston and Puk via trades. Puk joins fellow southpaws Steven Okert and Tanner Scott (20 saves) as high-leverage arms. The Marlins also have veteran righty Dylan Floro.

The fourth overall pick in 2019, Bleday debuted in 2022 and struggled (67 OPS+) in 65 games. With Jazz Chisholm Jr. moving to center field, Avisaíl García returning in right and Bryan De La Cruz the front-runner in left, Bleday was going to have trouble making the Opening Day roster. A move to rebuilding Oakland will give him a chance at regular playing time.