Jon Paul Morosi of CBSSports recently published some trade rumors regarding the Miami Marlins and their ample amounts of starting pitching. The idea behind the rumors was that the Fish were loaded with prospect talent in the starting pitching department and had back-end starting candidates in Tom Koehler and Brad Hand who had earned rotation spots with Spring Training performances. This depth would allow the Fish to entertain a trade of someone like Jacob Turner, a so-far disappointing former top prospect.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, however, states that a source within a rival NL organization has already been shot down when asking about Turner.
His team in need of starting pitching, the source specifically asked about Turner earlier this week. The Marlins made it clear Turner would open the season in the rotation.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports on Thursday afternoon Tweeted: "Mariners, DBacks are possible fits for Marlins starter Jacob Turner; Marlins having active trade talks because of quality pitching depth."
The Marlins do have Turner in a somewhat precarious situation, in that he appeared to not be ready for the majors last year but now is out of minor league options and will have to play through the 2014 season in the big leagues. At the same time, the Marlins have two starters in Koehler and Hand who have played well enough to earn spots in the rotation, and not enough room to fit all three alongside Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Henderson Alvarez.
But there were always problems with the Turner trade rumors. The first issue is the fact that trading Turner now would be selling at his lowest point. Just a year before this, he did at least look promising after the Detroit Tigers trade, as he posted acceptable strikeout and walk numbers en route to a 3.38 ERA and 3.86 FIP. As ugly as last season was, there is no reason Miami, a team in strict rebuilding and evaluation mode, should give up on any young players early. Turner is just 23 years old this season and, while he is on the brink of being a completely failed prospect, the Fish have no reason to give up on him for a likely small return off a bad year.
The presence of Koehler and Hand should not get in the way as well. As well as they have played this Spring Trainning, neither is actually a long-term fit for the Marlins. Koehler was never a significant prospect and just came off of 143 innings of mediocre play. Hand was a prospect, but he spent two seasons in Triple-A playing poorly before bouncing back last year. A small sample of innings now should not change the long-term outlook of either player going into 2014. Furthermore, Hand's presence as a lefty could be better suited for Miami in the bulpen, eliminating the problem of having to expose him to waivers in order to send him to Triple-A.
Finally, while much has been made about Miami's aggressive promotion tactics for prospects, it should be known that the majority of their pitchers still aren't ready for the majors. Brian Flynn is the only Marlins prospect who has spent significant time in Triple-A, while Adam Conley is the only one who has completed a full Double-A season. Top prospect Andrew Heaney may be ready by midseason, but Miami would like to see how well his second go-around in Double-A turns out after his first trip saw his strikeout and overall numbers take a small dip. Ditto for Justin Nicolino and a host of other names. The majority of those pitchers will not be ready to push Turner until 2015.
Given that, Miami has at least a year to evaluate where Turner stands in the organization. If he performs well in 2014, the Marlins will have a healthy competition for the last few spots in the rotation between the likes of Turner, Flynn, Heaney, and Conley. A trade can then be entertained, with the team receiving better return for a suddenly cost-controlled, mid-rotation Major League starter. If not, the club can move on with its other pitchers and let Turner go for a similar price as he would fetch this season or attempt to make him work in the bullpen. At $1 million for this year and next year, the Fish have every reason to try him in any spot before giving up.