Padres acquire batting champ Arraez from Marlins

May 4th, 2024

PHOENIX -- A lineup that already features Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts and Jake Cronenworth got even better.

On Saturday, the Padres finalized a deal with the Marlins for two-time batting champion and cash considerations. Miami acquired right-handed reliever Woo-Suk Go and three prospects: outfielders Dillon Head and Jakob Marsee and first baseman/outfielder Nathan Martorella.

Padres get: 2B Luis Arraez, cash considerations
Marlins get: RHP Woo-Suk Go, OF Dillon Head, OF Jakob Marsee, 1B/OF Nathan Martorella

“It’s really amazing, the guy is a baller,” Tatis said following the Padres’ 7-1 win over the D-backs at Chase Field on Friday night. “The guy is probably the closest to Tony Gwynn that there is right now, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in the lineup.

"Only seven batting titles away [from passing Tony Gwynn],” Tatis said with a laugh. “That why I said the closest.”

High praise, but not without merit.

The 27-year-old Arraez led the AL with a .316 average in 2022, then led the Majors with a .354 mark last season to become the second player to win a batting title in consecutive seasons for different teams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Nobody has done it for three teams in three seasons. Arraez is currently batting .299.

He also became the second player in the Modern Era to win a batting title in both the AL and NL and the first to do it in back-to-back seasons.

To pry Arraez, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2025 season, from the Marlins, the Padres dealt three prospects in Head (their sixth-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline), Marsee (ninth) and Martorella (13th).

The Padres drafted Head 25th overall in the 2023 MLB Draft. The 19-year-old is slashing .237/.317/.366 with one homer and nine RBIs in 21 games with Single-A Lake Elsinore this season. On the scouting scale from 20-80, Head has elite speed, graded at 80.

Playing for Double-A San Antonio, Martorella learned he was traded while standing on second base on Friday night. He was lifted for a pinch-runner, and he and Marsee said their goodbyes before heading to the clubhouse. Both players were drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft, with Martorella going in the fifth round and Marsee in the sixth.

San Diego also parted with Go, a 25-year-old reliever from Korea whom the club signed in the offseason. Go, who was in the Minors with Double-A San Antonio, is the brother-in-law of Giants outfielder Jung Hoo Lee.

Arraez was traded from the Twins to the Marlins in January 2023 for Pablo López and a pair of prospects in a deal that was primarily considered a win-win, as López and Arraez both made their first All-Star team last season.

This deal makes Arraez the second multitime batting champ to be traded midseason the year after winning an additional title, joining Lefty O’Doul (1933).

Arraez’s bat-to-ball skills are second to none. Since he debuted in 2019, he has recorded MLB’s only three seasons in which a player took at least 500 swings and had a whiff rate lower than 8%. That fits right in with the Padres’ “get ‘em on and get ‘em in” philosophy, mixing on-base skills with slug. Their 21 home runs with men on base this season are tied for first in the NL with the Phillies and trail only the Yankees’ 22.

“You’re always looking for more offense and to maintain a better balance in the lineup,” said Padres manager Mike Shildt.

Adding Arraez gives the Padres another bat who can play multiple positions. Since joining the Marlins, he’s played primarily at second base but has 85 career games at first base, 79 at third and 48 in left field, though he hasn’t played out of the infield since 2021.

He’d almost certainly play every day with the Padres, likely in various positions. He could be the primary DH and shift to the infield whenever the Padres give Machado, Bogaerts or Cronenworth a DH day.

That will cut into Tyler Wade's playing time, who entered Friday slashing .230/.329/.575. Wade has gotten 23 starts at third base when Machado slots in at DH, which was the case in the series opener at Chase Field.

Graham Pauley has also gotten eight starts this season, four at third and four at DH, but he’s looked overmatched at times. Adding Arraez makes him the odd man out to make room on the 26-man roster.