Gallen vs. Jazz arrives 3 years after trade

May 3rd, 2022

MIAMI -- It’s rare that both sides win a trade, but that's exactly how it looks nearly three years after the Jazz Chisholm Jr.-for-Zac Gallen swap.

At the time of the 2019 Trade Deadline, Chisholm ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 59 overall prospect, while Gallen was Miami’s No. 2 pitching prospect. Now they’re two of the more heralded youngsters in Major League Baseball.

The two trade pieces finally met on Monday night at loanDepot park, with Gallen retiring Chisholm in all three matchups. Gallen cruised into the seventh and Chisholm sparked a late Marlins rally, but the D-backs held on for a 5-4 victory.

“The first battle of the game, Zac challenged Jazz,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Jazz is a very good fastball hitter, and it set a tone for the rest of the day for Zac. … He was the one who set the tone for us, and he's pacing us there for a little while. And then we ran into a little hiccup, and [I’m] glad that we came out the other side.”

After hitting two batters to start the seventh, Gallen notched his fifth and final strikeout before exiting, having thrown 102 pitches over 6 1/3 innings. It was the 26-year-old’s first 100-plus-pitch outing this year, after starting Spring Training behind the D-backs’ other arms due to right shoulder bursitis.

With Gallen out of the game, Chisholm delivered a two-out, two-run double off Noé Ramirez, then scored from second on Jesús Aguilar’s infield hit into the hole at short to trim the deficit to 5-4. Chisholm reached a sprint speed of 30.6 feet per second (30 ft/sec is considered elite) on the play. In the ninth with the potential tying run at first and two outs, the D-backs pitched around Chisholm.

“It was cool facing them,” said Chisholm, who used Jorge Soler’s bat to hit the double after breaking two of his earlier in the game. “I feel like it locked me in a lot more. Mishit a lot of balls tonight. A lot of fastballs down the middle, flew out. Got myself out all night just trying to hit homers. But then in the fourth at-bat, locked in, wasn't trying to hit a homer, just trying to keep us in the game. That's where the result came, so I feel like I should have done that from the first inning.”

Chisholm originally signed with the D-backs as an international free agent on July 5, 2015, while the Cardinals selected Gallen in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft. The Cards then traded Gallen to the Marlins on Dec. 14, 2017, along with future ace Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra and Daniel Castano for Marcell Ozuna.

Gallen made his MLB debut for the Marlins at Busch Stadium on June 20, 2019, a little more than a month before being dealt to Arizona. During the earlier stages of their rebuild and in need of dynamic position players, the Marlins decided to trade from their surplus of young starting pitching to acquire Chisholm. In return, Miami moved Gallen, who posted a 2.72 ERA in his first seven MLB starts, giving Arizona a starting option right away as the club was three games out from the second National League Wild Card slot.

Chisholm didn’t make his debut until Sept. 1, 2020, becoming the eighth Bahamian to reach the big leagues, and he started Game 3 of the NL Division Series in the Marlins’ first postseason appearance in 17 years. After winning the second-base job in ‘21, he fell two homers shy of the first 20/20 season for a Marlin since ‘10.

The 24-year-old Chisholm has all the makings of a superstar -- the first for this organization in this era -- with his blue hair, decorative cleats and chains. He has been even better in 2022, among the NL leaders in categories like slugging percentage, stolen bases, OPS and RBIs.

“Jazz is going to be a great player. Just continue to work and stay with it,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He's exciting, he's a guy that fans love. The energy that he plays with and things that happen on the field, he's just one of those guys that people like to watch play. He's got a chance to be really, really good.”

While Chisholm was generating buzz in 2021, Gallen missed time with three separate injuries and posted a 4.30 ERA over 23 starts. So Gallen entered this season looking to make his mark and prove his ninth-place finish in 2020 NL Cy Young voting wasn’t a fluke. He has done exactly that, recording a 1.27 ERA in his first four starts while notching his first win Monday.

“I pitched with a lot of emotion tonight,” Gallen said. “Not something that I normally do. … [Jazz] made some comments last year, so I've been sitting on that for about a year now. It worked out, worked out in our favor. We won the game. It's the most important thing: Win the game. Make pitches. Leave it with a dub.”