He was only with the Twins for four years, but they must have been transformative. When Luis Arraez was asked on Friday what he will miss most about Minnesota, now that the American League's reigning batting champion has been traded to Miami, the Venezuelan offered the most startling answer possible.

"Cold. The cold. I started liking the cold when playing my first time in Minnesota," Arraez said, trying to suppress his customary grin. "The cold is really good for watching movies with my family."

Whether or not he was serious, it's certain that Minnesotans will miss watching Luis Arraez hit. But that was the ransom the Twins had to pay to address a shortcoming they judged more pressing than the lineup: their frequently fragile starting rotation.

Pablo Lopez, a five-year veteran righthander who posted a 3.75 ERA and struck out 174 batters in 32 starts for the Marlins last season, will join that rotation this season after being swapped for Arraez. Lopez represents a significant addition of depth to a Twins staff that used 14 starting pitchers in 2022.

The Twins also received 19-year-old infielder Jose Salas, one of the highest-ranked hitting prospects in the Miami system, in the deal, along with 17-year-old outfielder Byron Chourio, a Venezuelan who has yet to play in the United States.

"The only way you're talking about a player of [Arraez's] caliber in a trade is if you're acquiring a player of Pablo Lopez's caliber," said Derek Falvey, the Twins president of baseball operations. "This guy is a leader. This guy is a worker. This guy is a winning player all the way through. … We're incredibly excited, looking at our pitching staff, about what Pedro adds to the top of that group."

Lopez, who grew up about 100 miles from Arraez in northern Venezuela, said he's excited, too. And he invoked a name that is certain to resonate with his new fan base.

"Every Venezuelan kid grew up a Johan Santana fan. … I have vivid memories of watching him, as a youngster, in a Twins uniform," Lopez, 26, said of the two-time Cy Young Award winner, who occasionally helps tutor Twins prospects during spring training. "Now to be able to be a part of an organization like the Twins — everyone knows what they're made of."

Falvey, at least, hopes they are made of better pitching, especially with Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle and Bailey Ober returning to health, and Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray building upon strong 2022 seasons.

"I feel like this is as deep a group [of starters] as we've ever had," Falvey said. "And now we have some real premium guys near the top of the rotation, [which] Pedro makes even better."

Lopez uses a strong mix of mid-90s fastballs and high-80s changeups, with a smattering of sinkers and curves thrown in. His strikeout rate jumped in 2020 and has remained a strength.

"You're always learning, always hoping to get better. Never satisfied. Throughout the years, I've been able to keep that mindset," said Lopez, who has kept his ERA below 4.00 in each of the past three seasons. "To me, 2022 was the year where a lot of things clicked. I really found my identity as a pitcher, my identity as a teammate. In 2022 I was able to really just come to the field excited. Excited to be on the field, excited to find new ways to get better."

He missed two months in 2019 and three more in 2021 because of shoulder strains, but rebounded last season to throw a career-high 180 innings, 33 more than any Twins pitcher. He signed a contract with Miami last week that will pay him $5.45 million in 2023, and he cannot become a free agent until after the 2024 season.

"He was able to finally get over the hump this year. One thing I saw this year was his ability to pitch inside more than he had in the past, to push hitters off the plate," Marlins General Manager Kim Ng said. "That was a pleasant surprise."

So was the Twins' willingness to trade Arraez, she hinted, and Ng immediately announced that the versatile infielder will stick to second base in Miami, after playing three infield spots in 2022.

That lack of a regular position for Arraez, a below-average fielder, was likely a factor in the Twins' decision to trade him, as was their increasing depth in the infield. With Carlos Correa back at shortstop, Falvey said, he felt the team could absorb the loss of Arraez, especially for an established starter. "I'm really proud of what [Arraez] has accomplished, but ultimately we feel, when we look across our diamond, that we've got a lot of good players and a lot of good middle-of-the-diamond players," Falvey said.

The Twins have been interested in Lopez for years, he said, while Ng asked for Arraez right away. When the Marlins added such highly prized young prospects, Falvey was convinced.

Still, it wasn't easy for Falvey to tell Arraez that he was being dealt — literally. Arraez said he worked out Friday morning, and Falvey called "about 18 times" while he napped at midday. The popular teammate later fielded calls from Correa, Jorge Polanco and several other Twins, too.

That popularity extended to the fans, too, especially this year.

Arraez made the AL All-Star team last July after hitting .338 during the first half of the season, and he went on to lead the Twins in a variety of categories: games played, at-bats, runs scored, hits, doubles and on-base percentage. Arraez, who requested $6.1 million in arbitration last week while the Twins offered $5 million, was also the team's only player to walk more times than he struck out.

In the final two weeks of the season, while trying to play through a hamstring injury, Arraez put together a nine-game hitting streak to raise his average to .316 and edge out Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the batting championship. Arraez joined Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett and Joe Mauer as Twins who led the AL in hitting.

"Any time you have a player that's well-liked, who you know is going to go work and do it every day, which we got to see with Luis, it makes it harder," Falvey said.

It won't be easy for Arraez, either, to leave Target Field, where he batted .325 during his four years there. Or that Minnesota … cold.

Wait, he rethought that one.

"Sometimes I hate [the cold]. When I go play and then somebody throws me 100 [mph] inside, and then I can't use my hands," Arraez confessed. "I almost break my hands."