Young catcher Alex Jackson is heading back to Miami in return.
— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 30, 2021
The Braves’ press release implies that they will take responsibility for the remainder of Duvall’s contract, which includes a mutual option for 2022. Remember that in Wednesday’s Starling Marte trade, the Marlins “bought” themselves a better talent return by including cash considerations.
Baseball Trade Values estimates that the three-time defending NL East champs are getting the better value here.
Craig Mish was first to report the trade. However, only two days earlier, he tweeted matter-of-factly that the NL East rivals wouldn’t be doing any business with each other. This is the first time in nearly five years—reliever Hunter Cervenka for prospects Michael Mader and Anfernee Seymour in August 2016—that they have cooperated on a traditional two-team deal.
Duvall initially joined the Braves three years ago, struggling down the stretch in 2018 but providing valuable power hitting for them in 2019 and 2020. They had the right to retain him for this season via arbitration. The combination of his expected pay raise and the presence of top prospect Cristian Pache as a strong internal replacement candidate led them to non-tender the 32-year-old.
The Braves quickly came to regret that. Duvall has eight extra-base hits and 17 runs batted in off of Braves pitching in 2021 (leads all players in both categories). If nothing else, this acquisition prevents him from further denting their already-slim postseason chances during their six remaining games against the Marlins.
Mere weeks ago, the Marlins had a surplus of fun, productive outfielders on their active roster. But between trades of Duvall and Marte (to the Athletics), a season-ending elbow injury to Garrett Cooper and Jesús Sánchez’s COVID-related absence, that’s now—at least temporarily—a glaring weakness for them.
The Alex Jackson addition gives the Marlins a new face at a position of need. A former first-round draft pick, the catcher has thrived at the plate in Triple-A this season (slashing .287/.366/.694 with a 167 wRC+ in 123 plate appearances).
Unfortunately, he’s been unable to make the leap to the majors effectively: .070/.200/.093 with a 44% strikeout rate in 50 combined plate appearances from 2019-2021.
The key to this transaction is whether or not Jackson will stick at catcher defensively. In ranking him 22nd on their newly updated Braves top prospects list, Baseball America says he “has improved dramatically as a defender over the last few years…his framing metrics are good.”
Jackson immediately goes on Miami’s 40-man roster. I imagine that he’ll get some major league reps for them in August and September.
More updates to come…