Pittsburgh Pirates Acquire: Sixto Sanchez
Miami Marlins Acquire: Travis Swaggerty
It wasn't all that long ago that Sixto Sanchez was considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball. In 2020, Sanchez came off a strong but short showing in the major leagues, working to a 3.46 ERA, 3.50 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP in 39 innings. He capped off his 2020 rookie campaign with five scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in the 2020 Wild Card round, which included six strikeouts.
Things were on the up-and-up for Sanchez heading into 2021. He was viewed as one of baseball's brightest young arms. But unfortunately, Sanchez has suffered injury after injury, leaving his future ultimately up in the air. In 2021, Sanchez suffered multiple setbacks regarding his shoulder and underwent surgery in July.
Constant setbacks delayed Sixto's long-awaited return this past season. Sanchez suffered more shoulder-related injuries in 2022 and underwent a second shoulder surgery in September. Though he is expected to be ready for Spring Training, it's reasonable to be skeptical about his health.
When Sanchez was healthy, he was one of baseball's most electric pitchers. In 2020, Sanchez averaged 98.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball, making it the fourth-fastest fastball in 2020. His fastball was elite, but his changeup was even better. With an extremely low spin rate with his changeup, batters managed just a .148 BA and .193 wOBA against it. He also throws a sinker, cutter, and slider.
So why would the Marlins give up Sanchez and be interested in Swaggerty? The Marlins' outfield was terrible last season. As a collective group, they batted just .216/.284/.364 with a .286 wOBA and 85 wRC+. Their only outfielder with 200+ PA and a wRC+ above 100 was Bryan De La Cruz at 104. They were a respectable team defensively with +11 defensive runs saved, +5 outs above average, and +2.4 UZR/150, placing them middle of the pack. But overall, their +1.5 fWAR was the third lowest in baseball.
It's also not as if they have a top prospect coming up through the system. None of their top 15 prospects are OF prospects, according to FanGraphs. Their best outfield prospect per FanGraphs is Griffin Conine, who had a 103 wRC+ but struck out at a horrid 36.9% pace. He ranks 19th on FanGraphs' list and no. 26 on MLB Pipeline. Former first-rounder JJ Bleday struck out at a 27% pace at Triple-A despite a quality 123 wRC+ and had a 72 wRC+ in the major leagues and -.3 fWAR.
Sanchez is essentially an unknown commodity at this point. Sure, at one point his ceiling was sky-high, but that was two years and two shoulder surgeries ago. It's a high-risk/high-reward proposition for the Pirates as they're giving up a semi-decent OF prospect for a guy who now has undergone the knife twice for major procedures before his age-25 season. The Marlins need as much outfield help as they can get, and Swaggerty can slot into center field right now for the Fish.