Miami hoping newly acquired RP Jorge López regains AS form

July 28th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Marlins pulled off a one-for-one swap of relief pitchers with the Twins on Wednesday with the aim of adding a right-hander with upside that their bullpen needs.

Miami acquired 2022 All-Star from Minnesota in return for Dylan Floro, who had been with the Marlins since the beginning of the '21 season. The Marlins then acquired Mets closer in a trade for two lower-level prospects late Thursday.

"Bullpen was something that we wanted to address," general manager Kim Ng said on Friday. "These guys have played however many games now, and we're just here to provide some reinforcements for them. With the addition of López and Robertson, just really excited to add two real quality arms to the bullpen."

Marlins get:
RHP Jorge López
Twins get: RHP Dylan Floro

López reached the Midsummer Classic with Baltimore after recording a 1.62 ERA with 17 saves in 44 1/3 innings during last season’s first half. The 30-year-old has been unable to replicate that success with Minnesota, posting a 4.81 ERA through 58 innings since being dealt on Aug. 2, 2022.

However, López, who is making $3.525 million this season and has another year of arbitration remaining, brings desirable closing experience and can complement the club’s high-leverage lefties, A.J. Puk and Tanner Scott. Huascar Brazoban has been Miami’s top righty out of the bullpen, logging a 3.62 ERA through 42 appearances (49 2/3 innings)

"López is a power arm," manager Skip Schumaker said on Friday. "He's got real stuff. We saw a few things that could really help him out, and we'll see what happens. But the sinker/slider combo with the changeup is real. I feel like the velocity can really play, especially late in the season, and hopefully we get to the postseason, it can really play."

López’s lead pitch, a power sinker that averages nearly 97 mph, has held opposing batters to a .256 average through 35 1/3 innings this season. He was active for the Marlins' series opener against the Tigers on Friday at loanDepot park.

The shakeup comes during a time when the Marlins’ bullpen has had some rough patches during the month of July, highlighted by Puk’s struggles. The team leader with 15 saves this year, he has blown three opportunities and has a 9.82 ERA in eight appearances this month.

The team is hoping that López can find his previous form as it makes a playoff push over the season’s final two-plus months. Wednesday’s victory over the Rays brought Miami to within a half-game of the final NL Wild Card spot.

"It's something I don't want to even think [about]," López said of his struggles. "I feel the last outing I improved a lot. The last couple months, I've been struggling, and I knew that. I took my time off, and I felt bad, and I'm really really there. I'm just ready to take this new opportunity and everything I can do."

Floro held the closer’s role at times in each of the past three seasons, including a stretch from mid-May to early June this year during which he notched five saves over a three-week span. But since June 24, he has permitted 17 hits and seven earned runs in 10 innings. The 32-year-old was brought to the Marlins from the Dodgers on Feb. 12, 2021, in the first trade executed by Ng.

This isn’t the first deal Ng and the Marlins have completed with the Twins, of course. The two sides found a match this past January in a trade that brought infielder Luis Arraez aboard for right-handed starter Pablo López and two prospects.