Trade besties: Arraez, López on swap that brought them together

Duo becomes first players dealt for each other and selected to same All-Star Game since '08

July 11th, 2023

SEATTLE -- Hit machine and power righty became linked on Jan. 20, when they were traded for each other in a deal between the Twins and Marlins. Six months later, they made baseball history as a duo.

Arraez and López are the first two players swapped for one another to be selected to the same All-Star Game in 15 years. That connection had not been recognized since righty Edinson Vólquez and outfielder Josh Hamilton (Rangers-Reds) during the 2008 season.

“I love that,” López said when told of the history. “Now that I know it’s a little rare, it’s been 15 years, that’s pretty cool to know. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Arraez had spent the first four years of his career in Minnesota, while López played his first five in Miami before they were dealt this past winter. Arraez slugged his way to the 2022 AL batting title and López made a career-high 32 starts last season leading up to the four-player deal.

“It was a lot for me, and I was especially surprised because I got my batting title last year and then I didn’t think somebody would trade me to the Marlins,” said Arraez. “Then when they traded me, I said, 'OK, now I’ve got to go there to the Miami Marlins and enjoy my team and play baseball there.'”

Arraez and López had faced off in the Minor Leagues, but they didn’t know each other well in the Majors. The trade changed that. Arraez and López bonded during the World Baseball Classic playing together on Team Venezuela. That relationship has carried into the season.

“Pablito is a tremendous player, a tremendous pitcher, a more tremendous person,” Arraez said in Spanish. “Pablito has a good energy. We talk often.”

In making similar adjustments -- new organizations, new personnel, new philosophies -- the other player could relate and provide insight.

“I think we were able to click a lot based on that,” López said. “We developed a very genuine, sincere friendship. I couldn’t be happier for him and for his success, a big fan of him. I watch a lot of his games. Every time I do something good, he texts me, he FaceTimes me. Every time he does something, I congratulate him.”

Both players have had a lot to congratulate each other on this season. López posted a 5-5 record with a 3.89 ERA in the first half for his All-Star debut; Arraez’s batting average has reached .400 and he entered the break hitting .383, including the first cycle in Marlins history, to earn his second All-Star nod.

“I think both teams can tell that they got the things they were looking for at the time with what they needed,” said López. “Obviously, I still watch a lot of the Marlins games because I have way too many friends on that team. … The way he’s been carrying the offense, getting on base almost half the time, it’s just been unbelievable to watch and I couldn’t be happier for him. That was the first thing I told him when I saw him on the elevator today.”

So what could happen if the pals face off in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night? López has a game plan for his friend.

“You’re not going to strike him out, you’re not going to fool him,” he said. “You just have to throw quality pitches in the zone and try to let him get himself out. In hindsight, I think that’s one of the easier at-bats. Just challenge him and he’ll get himself out -- sometimes.”