The Marlins have acquired left-handers Tanner Scott and right handed Kohl Sulser from the orioles. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported (Twitter connections) Scott’s inclusion in the deal, while Craig Mish of the Miami Herald reported that Sulser had also been treated. Feinsand reports that the Orioles will receive interested parties Antonio Velez and Kevin Guerreroa player to be named later, and the Marlins’ pick in the Competitive Balance Round B of that summer’s amateur draft.
The Bullpen has been a notorious target area for Miami, and the Fish have now bolstered their support core with a pair of experienced arms. The Marlins have also found a new shortlist in Sulser, as Sulser saved eight games with Baltimore last season. While the Marlins are unlikely to have a full-time closer, there is a vacancy for the ninth inning, as Dylan Floro is expected on the injured list at the start of the season.
Sulser is a late bloomer who didn’t make his MLB debut until he was 29, so he’s still being controlled through the 2025 season, despite only recently celebrating his 32nd birthday. Injuries played a role in Sulser’s late start, as he underwent two Tommy John surgeries (one in college and the other in 2015 while pitching at Cleveland’s farm system). He eventually emerged in the majors with the Rays in 2019, then came to Baltimore with a waiver at the end of the 2019 season.
After a 5.56 ERA over 22 2/3 innings in 2020, Sulser broke out with a 2.70 ERA over 63 1/3 relief innings for Baltimore last season. Although his 8.9% walk rate was only in the 40th percentile of all pitchers (according to Statcast), Sulser’s strikeout rate of 28.4% was well above average and consistent with the high strikeout totals he had during his career in the minor league.
Scott hasn’t had much of a problem missing at-bats either, but the southpaw’s control issues have resulted in some inconsistent numbers across 156 major league innings. Scott has a 13.6% awkward walk rate during his MLB career, which is a big reason he only has one ERA despite a 50.1% grounder rate and 29.4% strikeout rate of 4.73 in the Orioles.
Between those numbers, Scott’s mid-’90s fastball and his three years of arbitration control remaining (Scott is expected to make $1.05 million this season after avoiding arbitration with the O’s), it’s easy to see why Scott’s his Share in the trading excitement has dragged on over the years. Also, the Sulser name started popping up in trade rumors earlier this year, as the rebuilt Orioles continue to be open to pretty much everyone on the list.
In fact, the Marlins themselves executed another notable bullpen trade with the O’s in August 2020 and rallied Richard Bleier. Sulser and Bleier now get on Anton Bass and Anton Bender as Miami’s top save contender, with Floro joining the mix when he returns to action. It’s entirely possible that more names will emerge as closer options for manager Don Mattingly, or one of these assists could do well enough to establish himself as the ninth-inning first pick.
From a Baltimore perspective, the CBR-B draft pick could be the biggest trading return result. The Competitive Balance rounds are two separate design rounds held after the first round and second round of draft respectively, with 15 teams (all in the bottom 10 by market or revenue size) receiving a bonus selection in one of the two rounds. For the 2022 draft, the Marlins were selected in CBR-B and had the first pick of that round. As luck would have it, Baltimore will now pick first in both Competitive Balance Rounds as the O’s also have first picks in CBR-A. The Competitive Balance Picks are the only draft choices allowed to be traded.
Baseball America ranked Guerrero 29th and Velez 34th on their most recent list of the Marlins’ top 40 prospects. Guerrero is a 17-year-old fielder who was part of the 2020-21 international signing class and hit .260/.373/.298 in 159 PA with the Marlins’ Dominican Summer League roster last summer. BA’s scouting report describes him as something of a work in progress as his “future will be based on how his physique evolves” as Guerrero is already 6ft 3in tall but weighs just 165lbs.
A Miami native, Velez was not drafted from the state of Florida due to the shortened shape of the 2020 draft. Baseball America credited Velez with having the best turn and control of any pitcher in the Marlins’ farm system, which is no small feat considering all the high-profile young arms in Miami’s minor league ranks. In addition to this quality change, Velez’s “low-90s fastball is reinforced with a vertical break bordering on double-plus.”
As the Orioles continue to strengthen their minor league ranks, today’s hallmarks are another move exhausting the MLB roster. Sulser was tentatively set to serve as Baltimore’s closer, and with Scott also in the mix for save chances, it’s now an open question who will end up getting ninth-inning duties. Paul Fried, Jorg Lopezand Dillon Tate look like the next men on the depth chart, although any number of pitchers could go through depending on performance, role changes, injuries and maybe more trades.