Miami Marlins May Be Trade Deadline Sellers, Does Not Mean Fire Sale

Would Larry Beinfest commit the Marlins to being sellers in 2012? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

ESPN's Buster Olney reported yesterday that the Miami Marlins could very well become sellers in the next 10 days depending on what happens to the team on the field. If that is the case, Olney reports that the Marlins would be willing to discuss any player on the team's roster, including Giancarlo Stanton.

This has sent Marlins fans on a tizzy. You see, Marlins fans do not like the world "sell." It is closely associated with the world "sale," and that word in Marlins lexicon is synonymous with "fire sale." The last thing Marlins fans everywhere want to hear are the words "fire sale." So you can understand the concern of fans once they hear that, of all the team's players. Giancarlo Stanton might be discussed.

But as Joe Frisaro writes, the Stanton mention is a mere formality, a part of the team's way of discussing trades and not necessarily something on which they would follow through.

The Marlins have a standing policy of saying they’d be open to trading anyone. They’ve stated this every year since Jeffrey Loria became the owner in 2002. Their thinking is, you don’t know if another organization would dramatically overpay.

Would the Marlins listen to offers for Stanton, who is 22-years-old and he isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2013 season? Yes, they’d listen. But chances are more likely Miami will sign him to a long-term deal by that date than move him.

What the Fish are doing is actually fairly smart. As Fish Stripes reader Jigokusabre mentioned yesterday, the Marlins would have to receive essentially an entire farm system worth of top prospects to trade someone like Giancarlo Stanton, who is certain to land extremely high on FanGraphs' Trade Value Series this season. That means that no team will basically be able or willing to trade the kind of value required for a player like Stanton.

But what players could the Marlins realistically trade away as sellers? We discussed some of this yesterday, and the truth is that very few players would be worth trading away.

Contrary to popular belief, Anibal Sanchez would not return enough to warrant a trade. The Fish may still be interested in re-signing him to a long-term deal, and even if they do not, the draft pick compensation they receive (which would be past the initial first round and essentially equivalent to a "sandwich" pick under the old collective bargaining agreement) would be of comparable value. For the Fish to be interested in a trade, they would have to receive some young talent that is ready for the majors, and there is no guarantee any team will trade that type of player for half a season of Sanchez.

No, if the team does decide to "sell," the only players that would receive significant return are the ones under contract through 2013. Omar Infante and Josh Johnson would intrigue other ball clubs because those teams would have team control and the future sandwich pick to work with. Johnson carries the most potential value, but as mentioned before, the Marlins are not interested in significantly hurting their chances in 2013 just because their chances in 2012 are fading. Infante holds good value, but his value is tied to defense, and that may fetch less of a return in the trade market.

This issue is compounded by the fact that Johnson and Infante have no immediate successors coming up the prospect pipeline. The Marlins do not have ready replacements in the minor leagues for either player, so the team would want to receive a major league ready replacement from a trade partner. Without that, the Fish are unlikely to make a deal.

My opinion remains that the Marlins will stand pat despite the news that they will at least consider being sellers. It is smart of the team to not blatantly devote themselves to the 2012 playoff cause if said cause is almost gone. But the team will not engage in a fire sale, and they will not sell out their 2013 playoff chances just because 2012 has not gone as successfully as they had hoped.

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