Miami Marlins trade Yimi Garcia to Astros after evolution into closer in 2021

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The Miami Marlins on Wednesday traded relief pitcher Yimi Garcia to the Houston Astros for outfielder prospect Bryan De La Cruz and right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt in their second move on the day ahead of MLB’s trade deadline on Friday. Hours earlier, the Marlins traded outfielder Starling Marte and cash considerations to the Oakland Athletics for left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo.

This is the latest example of one of the more common deals made at the MLB trade deadline: a high-leverage reliever with an expiring contract traded to a contender in exchange for a prospect or players for a team whose playoff hopes are all but nonexistent.

Garcia has been the epitome of a high-leverage reliever for the Marlins since signing prior to the 2020 season. The 30-year-old right-handed pitcher posted a 2.63 ERA with 54 strikeouts against 18 walks over his 53 relief appearances with the Marlins over the past two seasons. He became Miami’s primary closer two weeks into the 2021 season and converted 15 of 18 save opportunities.

“The most important thing for me is to just do my job. Whatever the team needs me to do,” Garcia said earlier in the season. “If I have to come in during the fifth, sixth, whatever the manager really needs me to do, I’m here to do that.”

Garcia is set to be a free agent after the 2021 season.

The trade is similar to one the Marlins made in 2019, when they sent Sergio Romo to the Minnesota Twins for first baseman prospect Lewin Diaz.

“A guy like Yimi outgoing, he did a lot for us the last couple years,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng said. “And so we wish him well.”

This time around, the Marlins are acquiring an up-and-coming outfielder in De La Cruz and a pitcher with MLB experience in Pruitt.

De La Cruz, 24, has been in the minors since 2014 and has spent all of 2021 at this point at the Triple A level where he has a .324 batting average with 12 home runs, 50 RBI and 48 runs scored through 66 games. He has split time among all three outfield spots this year with 21 starts in right field, 18 in left field and 16 in center field.

“This guy has basically just hit everywhere he’s been,” Ng said.

Pruitt, 31, has made two relief appearances with Houston this season as well and seven outings (four starts) at the Triple A Sugar Land Single A levels. He is 12-9 with a 4.89 ERA in parts of four Major League seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays (2017-19) and Astros (2021), making 69 appearances (10 starts).

The MLB trade deadline is 4 p.m. Friday.

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