Jesús Luzardo's injury makes Padres' top trade target even more obvious

One of the biggest trade chips is now off the board.
Miami Marlins pitcher Jesús Luzardo
Miami Marlins pitcher Jesús Luzardo / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

The starting pitching market certainly took a hit this past week when the Miami Marlins placed left-hander Jesús Luzardo on the injured list. The southpaw was expected to be one of the most sought-after arms at this year's MLB trade deadline.

The Marlins have been out of contention since about the first week of the 2024 season and are expected to be selling off assets in the coming month. Luzardo is just 3-6 on the season with a 5.00 ERA, but put together two solid seasons from 2022-23 with a 128 ERA+ and 3.40 FIP.

While the San Diego Padres have not been linked directly to Luzardo, one has to assume that the lefty was on AJ Preller's radar. With both Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove on the IL, as well as Michael King's struggles, the Friars will need an extra starter if they hope to compete for a playoff spot.

Jesús Luzardo's injury makes Padres' top trade target, Garrett Crochet, even more obvious

But with Luzardo now off the board, Garrett Crochet becomes the unquestioned No. 1 starting pitcher on the trade market this summer. The Padres had already been linked to the left-hander, but Luzardo's injury all but makes it all but a guarantee that Preller will focus in solely on the Chicago White Sox starter.

Crochet is not without his flaws. The lefty has yet to eclipse 100 innings pitched during a season in his college and professional career. That could hinder his ability to be a starter over the rest of this season, having already logged nearly 90 innings of work.

But there's no denying the talent that Crochet bring to the mound. The 25-year-old is 6-6 with a 3.25 ERA and 124 punchouts this season for the South Siders. Crochet is making just $800,000 in 2024 and won't become a free agent until after 2026.

The price tag for Crochet's services will be high, but Preller's proven time and time again that he's willing to sacrifice prospects for proven major league talent. The drop-off from Crochet to the other starters expected to be available at the deadline is significant.

Pitchers like Jack Flaherty and Erick Fedde represent the next tier of arms expected to have a new address after July 30. The Padres will need more than those types of pitchers if they hope to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies for NL supremacy. At this point, it may be Crochet or bust for Preller and the Padres.

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