2012 Miami Marlins Transaction Review: The Anibal Sanchez / Omar Infante Trade

The Miami Marlins traded Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez, shown above in new Tigers uniforms. After the 2012 season, how do the Fish feel about the trade? - Jason Miller

The Miami Marlins traded Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante at midseason in the first of two major trades in 2012. The return for the Fish was Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn, and the haul appears ready to help the Marlins in 2013.

The Miami Marlins struggled so badly through the month of July that the team decided that it needed to make a number of trades to utilize additional assets that they had through the end of the year. One of those assets was Hanley Ramirez, who was traded for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough to good results thus far.

The other major deal the team pulled off this past season was the trade of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers that netted the Fish top pitching prospect Jacob Turner along with catcher Rob Brantly and relief pitcher Brian Flynn. The Marlins traded a starting pitcher who would be leaving soon for greener pastures, as Sanchez is a free agent after 2012, and a cheap, worthwhile asset in the underpaid Omar Infante. In return, the Marlins received a group of prospects that helped fill two needs on the team, in particular a replacement starting pitcher and a future catcher.

At the time of the trade, I deemed this a perfect return for the Marlins and Tigers, as the trade value of both packages appeared very close to even. It was also a trade that clearly signaled that the Marlins were moving towards the future with their deals rather than continue to play for the 2012 season. But for the Marlins through 2012, they have to be happy with the early returns seen so far.

Anibal Sanchez

Player, 2012 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Anibal Sanchez (Tigers) 74 2/3 18.0 4.8 3.74 3.68 1.4 1.2

Anibal Sanchez entered his time with the Detroit Tigers with a 3.94 ERA and 3.43 FIP, with many of the things he was doing with the Marlins living up to his expectations. He started poorly with the Detroit Tigers, as he put up a 5.29 ERA through the end of August for the Tigers. Of course, by the end of his time there, he came out having performed about as well you could expect Anibal Sanchez to perform. His 3.74 ERA almost exactly matches his career 3.75 ERA and the 3.68 FIP was very similar to his career mark of 3.79 as well. As mentioned yesterday, Sanchez continued to drop his walk rate while still maintaining a decent strikeout rate, even as it dropped a little with the Tigers. Either way, the fact that he performed at about the expected rate even though he moved to the American League is impressive for the Tigers.

Omar Infante

Player, 2012 PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA fWAR rWAR
Omar Infante (Tigers) 241 .257 .283 .385 .288 0.8 0.7

Clearly Infante's hot streak that carried him through the 2012 season with Miami cooled off by the time he arrived in Detroit. With the Tigers, Infante was awful at the plate, worse than he was last year with the Fish and more reminiscent of the first half of 2011 than the player he has been for the last five seasons. His terrible walk rate in Miami (3.5 percent) continued with Detroit (3.7 percent), but this time he brought along with him an extended run of bad luck on balls in play, as he hit just .269 on balls in play with the Tigers.

Thankfully for the Tigers, Infante's defense was still a major positive. Both UZR and DRS had him as three runs better than average during his time in Detroit, and he solidified a glaring hole at second that has been present for since Placido Polanco left. Now the Tigers have a Polanco lookalike who is below average at the plate but a great defender.

Jacob Turner

Player, 2012 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Jacob Turner (Marlins) 42 2/3 17.1 5.3 3.38 3.89 0.6 0.4

I will discuss more on Jacob Truner later today when we talk about the other pitchers who were regular rotation members on the Marlins, but I have already discussed Jacob Turner's relative success earlier in the review series. Turner's primary concern of a lack of strikeouts was quashed during his time wiht the Marlins, and now the team can expect him to continue to improve on his strikeouts and walks while expecting regression on his over-the-top home run rate. The fact that Turner produced almost the same level of play as Sanchez did in terms of ERA and FIP has to be promising for the Marlins, especially after the struggles Turner had in the minors and majors in 2012 before coming to Miami.

Rob Brantly

Player, 2012 PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA fWAR rWAR
Rob Brantly (Marlins) 113 .290 .372 .460 .354 0.6 0.6

As I covered earlier in the season review, Brantly's breakout performance in 113 PA is yet another confidence booster for the Marlins in 2012. Brantly was called up in August and immediately latched on to a big half platoon role with the Marlins thanks to the struggles of John Buck. It is obvious that the Marlins cannot expect this performance going forward from Brantly, but for a 23 year-old rookie to perform as well as he did, his prospects for a successful career are greatly improved. Just this season, the Marlins got the same production from Brantly as the Tigers got from Infante in twice the playing time, and the Fish got it in a position of dire need.

Brian Flynn

Flynn received some playing time as a starting pitcher in the Marlins' Double-A Jacksonville affiliate, but the prospect gurus say that Flynn's ultimate role will eventually be as a relief pitcher. Still, he started eight games for Jacksonville and threw 45 innings with a 3.80 ERA and 3.78 FIP. While these are not overly dominating performances, they are good enough to continue Flynn as a starter for the time being, likely repeating Double-A. If he can keep up this relative success, he may stick as a lefty starter, but the Marlins have a chance at a decent, homegrown reliever if he does not work out.

Prognosis

The trade for the Marlins in 2012 did not work out in the sense that the team picked up the same number of wins from Turner and Brantly as they gave up in Infante and Sanchez. But with 2012 a lost cause, Sanchez's remaining 1.5 wins were almost irrelevant, and it does seem as though the Marlins picked up two players who could contribute 1.5 wins each as early as next season. In that light, picking up two young players with upside who are already at that caliber seems like a clear win, this season or otherwise.

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