Chicago Cubs Tabbed a Trade ‘Fit’ for Projected $90 Million Ace LHP

Cubs potential trade target Jesus Luzardo

Getty Cubs potential trade target Jesus Luzardo

We know the Cubs want to win here in the short term, and, at the same time, we know the team wants to continue building for the future, with one of the best farm systems in baseball. But having watched the Top 2 options in the starting rotation get lopped off by injury, at least here in the season’s early going, the goal of wining in the short term is looking more and more questionable all the time.

Ace lefty Justin Steele, who needed to back up his sterling 2023 season this year for the Cubs to have a chance at the postseason, is out until “sometime in May,” with a hamstring injury, per manager Craig Counsell. No. 2 starter Jameson Taillon is on the 15-day IL with a back injury and is still at least a couple of weeks from a return.

But maybe there is a way to combine the Cubs’ two outstanding goals and make a move that can help now as well as later: With a trade for Marlins ace lefty Jesus Luzardo.

Cubs a Potential Fit for Top Trade Chip

That’s the notion at Bleacher Report, which foresees the Marlins looking to add prospect depth in a trade of Luzardo, who is 26 and will hit free agency in two years. There’s no hurry to move Luzardo, of course, but if the Marlins are not contending, he earned the No. 1 spot on B/R’s list of top trade chips in MLB this season.

And the site picked the Cubs as one of the top “potential fits” for Luzardo. Here’s what analyst Zachary D. Rymer wrote of Luzardo, who spent his first two-plus seasons in Oakland before he was dealt to Miami:

“Injuries in Oakland have caused the lefty to take a twisty-turny route to stardom, but that’s indeed the route he’s on. He struck out more batters in 2023 than the likes of Burnes, Kodai Senga and Aaron Nola, notably finishing strong with a 3.12 ERA over his last 18 outings.

“Luzardo’s stuff grades well relative to other left-handers, and he’s at a point in his career where there’s little reason to think that will change any time soon. And with free agency not due to call his name until after 2026, any team that trades for him would have a new ace for the foreseeable future.”

Jesus Luzardo Learning to be an Ace

Luzardo has the potential to compete for the ace role with Steele going forward—either way, they’d be a pair of dazzling lefties at the top of the rotation. Since becoming a consistent starter for the Marlins in 2022, Luzardo has a 14-17 record with a 3.52 ERA in 50 starts, and was seventh in the National League with 208 strikeouts in 2023.

It is likely, though, that the Marlins are headed for a rebuild. The team is off to an 0-5 start and already look to be in trouble. He’s under contract, but Luzardo could potentially warrant a six-year, $90 million contract, according to The Athletic.

Luzardo still needs to improve on being an innings-eating No. 1 starter, but he showed those traits last year and made progress this Spring. He struggled early in the Marlins opener but settled in, allowing two hits, two walks and two runs, with eight strikeouts, in 5.0 innings.

“A lot of adrenaline, a lot of nerves, a lot of emotions,” Luzardo said, according to the Miami Herald, “but after the first couple innings, I felt like I settled in and was back to the game that I’m used to playing.”


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