The Jose Fernandez injury has sent the Miami Marlins reeling and searching for answers. The Fish are now down not only their best pitcher, but likely one of the league's top hurlers. This loss is unlikely to be as backbreaking as it initially sounds, but the loss will certainly hurt Miami in the win column and take the sails out of their promising early-season start.
But as Scott Gelman detailed earlier today, the Marlins are still confident in their chances and are in "win mode" thanks to a 20-19 start to the season. And if that is the case, MLB.com beat writer Joe Frisaro think he has the solution to the Marlins' falling chances at a postseason berth: acquire Chicago Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija.
The Marlins have a gaping hole at the top pitching spot, and asking Nathan Eovaldi or Henderson Alvarez to anchor a playoff rotation may be premature. Frisaro reasons that acquiring Samardzija, who has one more season of team control remaining after this one, would fill that hole nicely and keep the Marlins' status quo in terms of strong starting pitching.
On one hand, a move like this would be a harmless attempt at gauging interest. If the Marlins truly feel they can contend this season, they should ask about Samardzija, especially since the Fish would have another prized year of control after this season. But as always, any trade should also consider the price, and Samardzija would not come cheap. Frisaro had this to say regarding the price of an acquisition (my emphasis bolded).
It is likely that Miami will acquire yet another top pitching prospect in this year's draft, but the Fish are likely to still want to retain Andrew Heaney, who is dominating in Double-A right now but just missed the scheduled time to pitch and was not be called up for Wednesday's start as a result. With the Marlins building up an impressive pitching depth behind Fernandez, they could opt to trade starters from the minors in a deal for Samardzija.
But Miami's depth beyond Heaney is low-ceiling and may be too cheap to get Samardzija away from the Cubs. Earlier in the year, for example, it was reported that Chicago would have asked for Baseball America top-10 prospect Archie Bradley as part of any potential deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Marlins' only top-100 level players are Heaney (30th in this year's list) and Colin Moran (61st), neither of whom quite match up to Bradley's pedigree. Miami would almost certainly not trade either, meaning any offers would be with guys like Justin Nicolino being featured. That may not be enough.
Frisaro mentions that the reason Miami should still approach the Cubs for a blockbuster deal is to appease Giancarlo Stanton and show that the team is still aiming to compete. But with the Marlins reeling on this recent road trip and the club only competing a third of the way into the year against two teams that are better than them, it might be premature to consider themselves "contenders" enough to sell the farm for the necessary price for Samardzija. Combine that with the cost of top prospects and it seems unlikely that any move could be made.
Miami should check in to see what the Cubs would want in such a deal; it only makes sense to ask and the Fish could use the help. But with the 2014 season still highly uncertain, Miami will likely find the cost to acquire the Cubs ace will be too high to swallow.