MIAMI -- The Marlins made a flurry of changes to their 40-man roster ahead of Tuesday night's deadline to protect players eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, including the execution of a four-player trade with the Rays and adding three relief prospects.
Since the offseason began, Marlins general manager Kim Ng has said bats -- along with the bullpen -- were areas of need. Tuesday marked progress on the latter front.
Miami acquired reliever JT Chargois and infield prospect Xavier Edwards from Tampa Bay for pitching prospects Marcus Johnson and Santiago Suarez. Chargois, who turns 32 next month, twice missed time in 2022 with left oblique tightness. He posted a 2.42 ERA in 21 games (three starts), compiling a 0.94 WHIP and a 4.28 FIP over 22 1/3 innings. According to Statcast, his sinker averaged 96.5 mph and his slider tallied a 33.8 percent whiff rate. Chargois is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason.
Ranked as Tampa Bay's No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Edwards has yet to make his Major League debut. San Diego originally selected the North Broward Prep product 38th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft before sending him to the Rays as part of the Jake Cronenworth trade in '19. He slots in as the Marlins' No. 16 prospect.
The 23-year-old switch-hitter spent 2020 at the alternate training site and instructional league. After recovering from an oblique injury, Edwards slashed .302/.377/.368 with 19 steals in 79 games at Double-A Montgomery in 2021. Though Edwards had a down year offensively (.678 OPS) in 93 games at Triple-A Durham in '22, he homered five times after going deep just once before, in 2019.
According to MLB Pipeline, Edwards showcases elite bat control that makes him able to spray the ball all over the field from either side, and his solid strike-zone discipline leads to a healthy amount of walks. That falls in line with what Ng has said the club would like to see more of on offense. The new shift restrictions could bode well for Edwards' contact-oriented bat.
While Jazz Chisholm Jr. settled in nicely in the leadoff spot for the Marlins, he showed a penchant for run-producing and could be better suited for the middle of the order. Edwards, who can play at second, third or short, has the makings of a table-setter if he can prove himself worthy of an everyday role. At the moment, Miami's middle infielders on the 40-man roster are Chisholm, Miguel Rojas, Joey Wendle, Jon Berti, Charles Leblanc and Jordan Groshans.
In return for Chargois and Edwards, the Marlins parted with lower-level talent. The organization selected Johnson, who was rated as Miami's No. 26 prospect, in the fourth round of the 2022 Draft. Suarez, a 17-year-old Venezuelan right-hander, posted a 2.31 ERA in 11 starts in the Dominican Summer League to begin his professional career.
Miami and Tampa Bay are no strangers to making deals. A year ago, the Rays sent infielder Joey Wendle to the Marlins for outfield prospect Kameron Misner as well as reliever Louis Head for a player to be named or cash. In February 2021, Miami swapped Minor Leaguer Evan Edwards for reliever John Curtiss. At the 2019 Trade Deadline, the Marlins acquired outfielder Jesús Sánchez and reliever Ryne Stanek for righties Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards.
The Marlins also protected a trio of Triple-A relievers from the Rule 5 Draft: right-handers George Soriano (2.49 ERA) and Eli Villalobos (1.04 ERA) and No. 28 prospect Josh Simpson (4.38 ERA). Prior to promotions to Jacksonville, they dominated for Southern League-champion Double-A Pensacola. Last Thursday, Miami added Blue Wahoos closer Sean Reynolds. The club's top 30 prospects not added to the 40-man roster were Triple-A first baseman/outfielder Troy Johnston (No. 19), Double-A outfielder Griffin Conine (No. 23) and High-A Beloit righty M.D. Johnson (No. 26).
To open five spots on the 40-man roster, the Marlins designated for assignment righties Nick Neidert, Jeff Brigham and Elieser Hernandez as well as infielder José Devers, who was part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade, and first baseman Lewin Díaz. The latter has an elite glove but has struggled to find his stroke at the plate in the Majors (.567 OPS).