Marlins Starter Pablo Lopez is Reportedly Available … ‘Sup, Cubs?

The Cubs’ interest in adding multiple, legitimate starting pitchers to the rotation this offseason is no secret. In fact, it’s arguably their top priority, and the work has already begun — They’ve reportedly been in contact with the agent of international free agent starter Kodai Senga, and they reportedly had a deal in place to trade Willson Contreras for Astros righty José Urquidy at the deadline, before Dusty Baker helped shut it down (yes, that really happened).

But Senga isn’t the only free agent available, and Urquidy won’t be the last trade candidate on the market. Enter Jon Heyman and his rolodex of rumors.

Speculation of the Marlins dealing from their stable of young starting pitchers has persisted for about a year now, but it’s never been quite this specific.

According to Heyman, Pablo Lopez is the exact arm Miami is willing to deal and a young hitter (most likely an infielder?) is what they’re seeking in return. We can work with that. But first, let’s start with Lopez, himself. What’s his deal? How good is he? How much is he making/team control? Etc. You get the idea.

Pablo Lopez – 2022 Stats

2022 was a banner year for Pablo Lopez, 26, in terms of longevity and total value, as he made 32 healthy starts (180.0 IP) for a grand total of 2.8 fWAR (44th in MLB), which isn’t the greatest measure of success for pitchers in this day and age, but does give you a general idea of where he falls. More importantly, only 21 starters made at least 32 starts this season and only 26 pitchers threw more innings than Lopez. In this era of baseball, that’s a real achievement.

On a related note, only 7 of Lopez’s 32 starts were shorter than 5.0 innings, and 16 of 32 were at least 6.0 innings. He had 14 quality starts overall.

Now, as for the other stuff, the numbers you care about: Lopez posted an above-average (and matching) 3.75 ERA and FIP, as well as above average strikeout (23.6%) and walk (7.2%) rates. His plate discipline data looks good across the board and is pretty shockingly consistent throughout his career. And Lopez did an solid job of managing hard contact. His barrel rate did rise this season, but his average exit velocity, launch angle, and hard-hit rate are all better than the league average.

He was just a really solid pitcher. Not spectacular maybe, but solidly above average and very consistent.

Pablo Lopez – Career Stats

For the most part, the pitcher Lopez was in 2022 is the guy he’s been throughout his career — with a little give in take (results for longevity):

The velocity is pretty stable, the HR/FB ratio is right in line, his groundball rate is usually better than average, he manages to keep the BABIP down with good contact management skills and so on.

In terms of pitch-mix, Lopez added a cutter a few years ago (2020), reducing use of the sinker in the process, but otherwise has been pretty consistent in this general range (2022 usage below)

Four-seam: 38.7% (93.5 MPH)
Cutter: 9.7% (88.8 MPH)
Sinker: 8.2% (93.4 MPH)
Changeup: 35.2%
Curveball: 8.1%

That’s a great five-pitch mix, with solid velocity he’s generally maintained throughout his career — it was a little higher in 2021 (94.0 MPH), but not by any meaningful or concerning amount.

Trading for Pablo Lopez

Okay, so we get it. He’s young, he’s consistent, he throws lots of innings, he has lots of pitches, he’s generally been successful … how do we get this guy on the Cubs?

Normally, I’d look at his stats (above), age (26), remaining years of team control (2 – 2023 and 2024), and expected salary (see below) ….

2023 arb. estimate: $5.6 million
2024 arb. estimate: $10-12 million

… and find a comparative deal from the past … but we really don’t need to do that in this case. From the Heyman tweet above, we know the Marlins are looking for hitters and nearly dealt him for Gleyber Torres, in particular, at the deadline.

In case you forgot about the former Cubs prospect, Gleyber Torres, 25, is a slightly downward trending middle infielder more suited for second base than his original place at shortstop. He hit a TON when he first joined the big leagues, but has slashed just .256/.324/.406 (106 wRC+) over his last ~1250 plate appearances.

This season, Torres slashed .257/.310/.451 (115 wRC+) with a negative defensive rating playing second base almost exclusively. He did hit 24 homers and steal ten bases, all of which adds up to 2.7 WAR.

Torres, like Lopez, is under control via arbitration in 2024, but because he was a Super 2 guy, is projected to make some real money ($9.8M this season, even more in 2024), before he hits free agency.

So do the Cubs have a guy like that? Eh. It’s complicated. In short, Nico Hoerner, who’s younger, better, cheaper, controlled for longer, and is a plus shortstop definitely has more value than Gleyer Torres. A lot more, probably. And in any case, the Cubs seem ready to commit to him long term.

Christopher Morel is not quite as established as Torres, and has more of a utility flavor to his profile. Not sure it’s what the Marlins would be looking for, and also not sure the Cubs want to part with one of the few in-house big league guys they have who can back up shortstop.

Nick Madrigal is also younger by a couple of months and is under control for 4 more years compared to Torres’ two, but has just not established any sort of baseline in the big leagues yet. That’s partly due to injuries, but I think we all saw enough this season to know it’s a little more than that. There’s real work to do. And while the pedigree, early career success, and additional two years of control are all legitimate pluses in his book, I think he’s a far less attractive trade target than Torres.

But the Cubs could always sweeten the pot with their extreme prospect depth, and moving Madrigal would allow them to more easily move Nico Hoerner over to second base if they land one of the big free agent shortstops this winter. But that’s all just blind speculation.

And beyond those three guys, the Cubs don’t really have many obvious trade candidates for the Marlins who won’t be looking for someone like Patrick Wisdom (too old) or Ian Happ (just one year of control). So basically, this might all come down to whether or not (1) Miami likes Madrigal as a center piece and (2) Chicago sweetens the pot enough to make them bite.

Either way, the Cubs should absolutely be trying for a young starter with multiple years of control like Lopez. He — and his 32-start arm — would be an ideal addition to this rotation at this point in time.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

more cubs news

That Was Justin Steele’s Best Outing In a While

After his previous outing, for which the final numbers didn't look as good as the stuff, Justin Steele said he was actually starting to feel good about where he was, after missing the first chunk of the season with the...

Performing With Runners in Scoring Position Isn’t “The” Problem for the Cubs, But It Tells a Pretty Extreme Story

It has become mildly overwhelming to try to think through all the layers to the Cubs' offensive disfunction. We will be exploring them on an ongoing basis, I suppose, because there are so many aspects to a team-wide slump like...

Back to Square One, Madrigal’s Boot, Fan Ire for Counsell, and Other Cubs Bullets

do you remember happiness With yesterday's loss to the Brewers, the Cubs fell to .500 for the first time since April 1. And not that anything is being decided today, but the Cubs also fell out of a playoff spot...

REPORT: ANGEL HERNANDEZ IS RETIRING

Angel Hernández long ago - roughly around the time Joe West hung 'em up - became the face of Bad Umpiring in Major League Baseball. We can debate the degree to which that kind of title is deserved, but Hernández...

Enhanced Box Score: Brewers 5, Cubs 1 – May 27, 2024

The Cubs' offense is in a really, really bad place. You don't need me to tell you that. I'm running out of ways to say it anyway. They got a sac fly in the 9th inning of a 5-0 game...

Pre-Gamin’: Cubs at Brewers (3:10 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

CUBS LINEUP — The Cubs have been in a pretty frustrating rut for a couple weeks now, especially on offense. But they have a prime opportunity this week to make up some of the ground they've lost with four straight...

MLBits: Acuña’s Season-Ending Injury Stinks for Baseball, Guardians Win 9th Straight, More

Ronald Acuña Jr.'s season-ending injury isn't just a loss for the Atlanta Braves but for the entire baseball world. That and more in today's MLB Notes. Ronald Acuna Jr. Will Miss the Rest of the Season with a Torn ACL...

Cubs Farm Report | May 27, 2024: Priester Stymies the I-Cubs, Thompson’s Rehab Start, More

Offense was in short supply for the Iowa Cubs on Sunday, as Indianapolis' Quinn Priester stymied Iowa for seven shutout innings. That and more in today's Cubs Farm Report. Cubs Farm Report | May 27, 2024 Triple-A Iowa Cubs The...

At Least Ian Happ Did Some Things, Baselines, Bullpens, and Other Cubs Bullets

May your Memorial Day be a restful, respectful day, surrounded by friends and family. And may the Cubs brighten the day by winning a dang game. Let's start with something positive at a time when it's getting easier by the...

What If We Try Winning Some Games? Cubs vs Brewers Series Preview

Cubs vs Brewers — On April 26, the Chicago Cubs were eight games over .500 and mostly cruising *despite* multiple significant absences/injuries to key players on the roster. One month later, they're mostly healed up, but are now just one...

Latest News

Guardians vs. Rockies Probable Starting Pitchers – May 28

The Cleveland Guardians (36-18) and the Colorado Rockies (19-34) face off in Denver on Tuesday. First pitch is at 8:40 PM ET at Coors Field.The probable starters are Triston McKenzie (2-3) for the Guardians and Ryan Feltner (1-4) for the...

Diamondbacks vs. Rangers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Texas Rangers (25-29) will lean on Corey Seager, following a two-homer game, to lead them in a matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks (25-28) on Tuesday at 8:05 PM ET on ARID. The Rangers are +102 underdogs for the contest,...

Royals vs. Twins Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Maikel Garcia (14 games) will look to add to his hitting streak when the Kansas City Royals (34-21) and Minnesota Twins (29-24) meet Tuesday at 7:40 PM ET, live on BSKC from Target Field. Garcia and the Royals are favored...

Brewers vs. Cubs Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Chicago Cubs (27-27) will try to end their five-game losing streak when they visit the Milwaukee Brewers (31-22) on Tuesday at 7:40 PM ET on MARQ. Bookmakers consider the Brewers to be -159 favorites for the contest, while the...

Blue Jays vs. White Sox Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Entering Tuesday's matchup with the Toronto Blue Jays (24-29), the Chicago White Sox (15-40) are on a six-game losing streak. The contest starts at 7:40 PM ET on SN1 with the Blue Jays listed as -214 favorites, while the are...

That Was Justin Steele’s Best Outing In a While

After his previous outing, for which the final numbers didn't look as good as the stuff, Justin Steele said he was actually starting to feel good about where he was, after missing the first chunk of the season with the...

Los Angeles Clippers Draft Picks: List of 2024 and Future Draft Selections

The Los Angeles Clippers were bounced in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs thanks to the Dallas Mavericks and now shift their attention to the offseason. Let's look at the Clippers 2024 NBA Draft picks, future selections, and...

Reds vs. Cardinals Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Cincinnati Reds (24-30) will vie for their fifth straight victory when they host the St. Louis Cardinals (25-27) on Tuesday at 6:40 PM ET on BSOH. The Reds are listed as -128 favorites by bookmakers, while the Cardinals are...

Orioles vs. Red Sox Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Baltimore Orioles (34-18) will vie for their sixth straight victory when they host the Boston Red Sox (27-27) on Tuesday at 6:35 PM ET on NESN. The Orioles are listed as -165 favorites by oddsmakers, while the Red Sox...

Rays vs. Athletics Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Tampa Bay Rays (26-28) are set to take on the Oakland Athletics (22-33) Tuesday at 6:50 PM ET, airing on NBCS-CA. The Rays are listed as -167 favorites by sportsbooks, while the underdog Athletics have +141 odds for the...

more cubs news