Cleveland Guardians trade target: Starting pitcher Pablo López

Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewers
Miami Marlins v Milwaukee Brewers / John Fisher/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians have had a productive offseason, but they shouldn't be done improving their roster by any means.

To this point, the pitching staff looks roughly the same from last season, and the starting rotation in particular could stand to be improved. It would appear that Miami's Pablo López is available, and the Guardians should absolutely look to trade for him.

What Would a Pablo López Trade Look Like?

The Marlins are in desperate need of offensive talent, primarily in the form of young, controllable talent that can get on base. In that respect, the Guardians have an embarrassment of riches, even in the minors. And for López, who isn't even a free agent until 2025, Cleveland might just have the firepower to get a deal done.

López would be a huge get for the Guardians' rotation. In five seasons, López, 26, sports a 3.94 career ERA, though he has a 3.52 ERA over the past three seasons. From 2020 to 2022, he has maintained a 3.48 FIP and 119 ERA+ in 63 starts. He keeps the walks in check for the most part and strikes out his fair share of batters, thanks to a five-pitch mix that includes a four-seam fastball (averaging close to 94 miles per hour), changeup, cutter, sinker, and curveball.

López is an especially intriguing option for the Guardians because he'd slot in as their third starter, pushing Cal Quantrill to the fourth spot in the rotation, which suddenly gives Cleveland easily one of the strongest pitching staffs in all of baseball, even with all the other teams out there spending trillions of dollars to improve their own rotations. Plus, between Shane Bieber, Triston McKenzie, López, and Quantrill, the Guardians would be getting multiple years out of this potential rotation setup.

So in order to get this done, let's take a look at the current state of the Miami offense. The Marlins had the fourth-lowest wRC+ in the National League in 2022 at 88. They had a horrific team on-base percentage of .294, so they're looking for guys who can, first and foremost, just get on base in any capacity. The Guardians have a wealth of prospects who can do this - it'll just be a matter of what Miami's asking price ends up being.

Before Sean Murphy ultimately went to the Braves, it was reported that Oakland's asking price was high. That was proven to be true with three top-ten Atlanta prospects going to the A's in the deal. If that was something the Marlins were looking for in a López deal, is that something Cleveland would even be willing to do?

Probably not, but if the Guardians could find a way to get the Marlins on board with lower-level, albeit highly valued, prospects who won't be able to help the team for years, it might end up being possible. How do the Marlins feel about, say, Chase DeLauter for starters? Would it take throwing in someone like Will Brennan? What about Brayan Rocchio or, dare I say, George Valera?

Trades of this magnitude are tough, because Miami really doesn't have to deal López at all, and multiple years of control always command hefty price tags. But this is the type of move that can help the Guardians keep pace with the elite teams of the American League. If the Marlins are willing to listen to reason, the Guardians should keep an eye on this potential deal.

Just to put it in some perspective: Using last year's strikeout totals, if the Guardians had López, they would have had three of the top 15 strikeout leaders in the AL in 2022.