The Miami Marlins are not done trading just yet, as it seems as though the team is interested in shipping out plenty of its veterans before the MLB trade deadline passes. A number of relievers have been considered as part of potential trades, and the team may send out one or two names by the end of the month.
We have already discussed the trade profile of closer Steve Cishek, who is unlikely to be dealt but would have some decent trade value if he was. The reliever most likely to be traded is Ryan Webb. Webb has a combination of seemingly deteriorating skills and salary concerns that the Fish would like to send away, but the problem for the team will be to find a market and a home for Webb's concerns.
Ryan Webb is eminently available for trade suitors to pick up. The Fish have no interest in paying Webb's arbitration salary next season as he enters his second year of arbitration. Part of the reason is that he is a middle reliever rather than a closer and the Fish have historically found no interest in investing in non-closers who are heading into seven-digit salaries. The team whisked away Edward Mujica last season for a similar reason, and they have released plenty of one-year wonders from arbitration because they were not closers.
The other reason is that Webb is beginning to crumble statistically, and the Marlins would prefer not to pay million-dollar sums for mediocre relievers. Webb is struggling mightily this season, and he never improved on the promise he showed when he was on the Padres. Even if Webb is only going to get a modest raise in his second arbitration season, that may be more than enough to let him leave.
Much of the trade market for a player like Webb is similar to the market for Cishek. Teams like the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers are specifically looking for closers, but they might be willing to gain bullpen depth in picking up a player like Webb. In the Cishek trade profile, I mentioned a few other rosters that could use bullpen depth due to lack of performance, including the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore Orioles.
SB Nation's Tigers blog Bless You Boys has done a trade profile of Webb as well, and they confirmed that the Tigers have had interest, but that Webb could be acquired for depth rather than any valuable role.
Once upon a time, Ryan Webb was the better side of the two-reliever acquisition in return for Cameron Maybin. He had mid-90's velocity on a heavy sinker that induced a lot of ground balls, and it would only be a matter of time until he developed the good secondary stuff needed to take over a closer role. Once he figured those pitches out, he would be able to be a ninth-inning player.
But Webb never figured those things out, and worse yet, his mid-90's sinker has lost both the velocity and potentially the sink. Webb came to the majors with a 95 mph sinker when he arrived with the San Diego Padres. When he was traded to the Marlins, he still had a 94 mph fastball. Now that fastball is down to 92 mph, three mph less than it was running at the start of his big league career.
A similar dip has occurred in his ground ball rate. With the Padres, he was at 60 percent, and it would seem at the very least that he could induce grounders every day with that sinker. But now his ground ball rate has dipped to 51 percent over the last two seasons. Webb's best skill was his sinker, and its sink is possibly dying out as the velocity also suffers.
The worst part is that the rest of his game is not developing. Webb never missed bats in the past, and his 14.2 percent strikeout rate this season shows that he still is lacking in that department. Beyond that, his 10.7 percent walk rate is also causing problems, as it is currently a career high for one season. With his other pitching skills declining and no other typical strong relief skills like strikeouts, Webb has to depend on his only remaining positive: he does not give up homers (nine in 236 career innings).
Teams may be interested in acquiring Webb for bullpen depth, but do not expect much, if anything, in return. Webb may not have the contract that players like Ricky Nolasco have, but it only takes a small salary above the minimum to pay a guy like Webb who is barely producing. The 3.12 ERA and 3.54 FIP has a lot to do with the minuscule home run rate, and while that may be somewhat repeatable, teams may not want to bet much to see if it will happen.
The Marlins will send away Webb before this year's trade deadline, but the return will not catch anyone's attention. Remember the Heath Bell trade that got Yordy Cabrera, a marginal prospect currently playing decently in Low-A? Cabrera is exactly the type of prospect the Marlins might receive. A player in the low minors with questionable upside is probably the best bet for the Fish, and I think the Marlins would be happy to get at least that back.