Left-hander Jesus Luzardo has won his arbitration hearing against the Marlins, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link). The arbiter’s ruling means that Luzardo will earn his desired $2.45MM salary in 2023, rather than the Marlins’ submitted figure of $2.1MM.
Luzardo becomes the second Miami player (and the second MVP Sports Group client) to win an arb hearing in as many days, after Luis Arraez was victorious Thursday in his bid to earn a larger salary. Jon Berti is also slated for a hearing in the coming days, unless he and the Marlins agree ahead of time on a contract to avoid arbitration.
This is the first of four trips through the arb process for Luzardo, as a Super Two player. The extra year of arbitration eligibility makes this hearing decision a particularly nice result for Luzardo, since the $2.45MM provides a higher starting platform for his future earnings. Both figures from Luzardo and the Marlins were above the $2MM projection of Matt Swartz’s arbitration model.
One of baseball’s best pitching prospects during his time in the Athletics’ farm system, Luzardo made his MLB debut in 2019, and then finished eighth in AL Rookie Of The Year voting in 2020 when he posted a 4.12 ERA over 59 innings in the shortened season. Just when it seemed like Luzardo was going to be Oakland’s next building block, however, he struggled badly at both the Major League and Triple-A levels in 2021, and also missed time with a fractured pinkie finger.
With the A’s vying for a playoff berth (and facing an imminent fire sale that offseason), Luzardo was dealt to the Marlins in a one-for-one trade for Starling Marte at the deadline. As well as Marte played in his brief time in Oakland, it wasn’t enough to get the Athletics into the postseason, while the Marlins picked up a controllable and talented arm who already looks to have benefited from the change of scenery.
Luzardo didn’t pitch well for Miami during the remainder of the 2021 campaign, but then posted a 3.32 ERA and a strong 30% strikeout rate over 100 1/3 innings in his first full season as a Marlin. The southpaw’s 2022 performance wasn’t without some hiccups, however, as his 8.8% walk rate was below average and he spent over two months on the 60-day injured list due to a forearm strain. Fortunately, Luzardo returned from that worrisome injury in good form, posting a 3.03 ERA over his final 12 starts and 71 1/3 innings of the season.
Some more trade rumors swirled around Luzardo this winter, as the Marlins were openly looking to move one of their starters (except Sandy Alcantara or top prospect Eury Perez) in exchange for a hitting upgrade. Luzardo was reportedly floated to the Mets in a possible offer involving Brett Baty, though ultimately, Pablo Lopez ended up being the starter on the move, as Miami sent Lopez to the Twins as part of the four-player trade that brought Arraez onto the roster. With Lopez now gone, the Marlins are counting on Luzardo to take another step forward, and perhaps even establish himself as the rotation’s number two pitcher.