Steve Cishek rumors: Possible trade bait for Marlins' offense?

Could Steve Cishek be the key to acquiring offense for the Miami Marlins? - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MLB.com's Joe Frisaro mentioned the possibility of the Miami Marlins trading closer Steve Cishek as part of a package to bring in offensive help. Would this be a good move?

MLB.com's Joe Frisaro mentioned the Miami Marlins' likely arbitration situation, and the big names highlighting the list of arbitration players are Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek. Stanton, of course, has been in trade rumors all season long following the fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Marlins insist that they will build around Stanton in 2014.

However, the other name in Cishek is an intriguing one for Miami. The Fish have stated all along that the team wants to keep Cishek as a potential future core of the franchise. However, Frisaro notes that he may be valuable to Miami as trade bait for the team's known offensive woes.

Cishek, actually, may become a more realist trade piece. The Marlins have some power arms in the system, and they likely will seek offensive upgrades on the trade market.

Cishek’s value is at its highest, and it might make sense to include him as a trade piece for offensive help.

Coming off a 62-100 season, the club is at least another year away from seriously contending. So the organization is probably asking itself if it needs a $3.2 million closer at this point.

The point he makes here is a very salient one. The Marlins are not likely to be competitive in 2014 and 2015 may still be quite a stretch as well. If the Fish are not going to win many games, it is not likely that they will need a shutdown closer to hold a lot of leads for them. Closers are notoriously overrated in terms of trade value, especially by contenders looking to find a "final piece of the puzzle," so the Marlins may be better off extracting the best value from a luxury player on their roster rather than paying him his salary for 2014.

Cishek is expected to make $3 million or so in his first season of arbitration, and those prices are only going to go up for the next four years. He qualified for Super Two status this year, meaning Cishek will be owed arbitration for four seasons in total of team control. Consider the prices the Marlins had to pay for mediocre talent like Juan Oviedo; the Fish agreed to pay Oviedo $6 million in his final year of arbitration. Given Cishek's talent level as of his first two and a half years in the league, he could easily earn $10 million by the final year of arbitration.

With Cishek coming off of his best season so far, the Marlins could find a contender in need of future bullpen help and pick up parts for the team's dire offensive needs. The question is which contender that would be. Of the teams in and around the playoffs in 2013, only the Cleveland Indians seem like they are in obvious need of an upgrade. The St. Louis Cardinals and Oakland Athletics are two other teams who are facing departing incumbent closers, so they could also be options. The Fish would want to find someone in need of ninth inning help, because if the team does not need closers in particular, they may not value Cishek as highly.

The Marlins should attempt to make a move with Cishek as trade bait, perhaps in conjunction with their starting pitching depth. This seems like the best way to acquire effective offensive help from another franchise via trade, as the Fish have few other options to improve their team. With the team going nowhere next year and relief pitching being such a fungible commodity, Miami might as well cash in their chips now and turn to someone like Mike Dunn or A.J. Ramos to close.

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