The Miami Marlins could address some of their critical team needs prior to this season's MLB trade deadline, if the team can find some shrewd moves to make. The Fish are aching for some assistance in a variety of areas, and if any of those things can be addressed for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Miami could be interested in a deal. The Marlins would ideally like help for next season, likely because this season is a bit of a pipe dream and next year is closer to a reality in which the team, with a hopefully healthy Jose Fernandez, can actually compete.
So what are the needs the Marlins have, and can they address them?
1. Starting Pitching
For a club deep in pitching prospects before the season began, the Marlins have found themselves in need of help halfway into the year. You know you are in need of assistance when Brad Hand is still in your rotation and you are counting on Tom Koehler to give you quality innings. Once Fernandez's injury came around, the wheels of the rotation began to fall off. Fernandez left, then Jacob Turner all but imploded and was rightfully demoted to the bullpen. Andrew Heaney's first stint in the majors did not prove successful, and though he could return in short order, he has a decent chance of staying tucked away in New Orleans this season based on his first few outings. Meanwhile, other starter prospects who might be fifth starter options have struggled, between Anthony DeSclafani's poor play in the bigs and Adam Conley's and Brian Flynn's problems in Triple-A.
So incredibly, the Marlins need pitching help. But with the team falling a little further out of contention right now, the better play might be to find a pitcher under team control next season than to go for a short-term option just for 2014. And the issue with that is that many of those pitchers are either unavailable or, in the case of high-end guys like David Price, extremely expensive. Miami does not have the trade chips to make a move on someone like Price, and there are not a lot of other names under control for next year on the market.
The bullpen, despite decent run-prevention numbers, has struggled all year behind Steve Cishek. Now, Cishek himself has struggled, as he has blown two saves in the last two weeks with three multi-run innings to his name. Miami might be interested in improving in that regard by again picking up someone under a decent amount of team control. The Fish could find a lefty specialist to help in the seventh or eighth innings and it would probably cost Miami only one of their middling pitching prospects, so such a trade seems realistic.
The problem with such a move is that it is a low-impact play. Miami is not one reliever away from contention, and the team may need those starting pitcher pieces to help find back-end starters in future years.
3. Middle Infield
This is quietly where Miami needs the most help, but where they have the least interest in improving. The market for middle infielders is surprisingly flush with decent names, many of whom are under contract for next season as well. The Marlins could approach teams with offers for guys like Ben Zobrist or, if the Marlins were more ambitious, Elvis Andrus or Starlin Castro. With the team essentially bereft of middle infield options in the minors, the Fish could use an infusion of talent at either shortstop or second base, and a trade here may be the right play.
Two things stand in the way. It is difficult to tell how much Miami would have to pay for, for example, a Zobrist to come here. The market for some of these players is tricky for a variety of reasons. Zobrist has never been considered great, but actually may be because of his tremendous defensive contributions. It is questionable how much Texas would like to trade Elvis Andrus, and it is questionable how much they could get back given his eight-year, $120 million extension has yet to kick in.
The other problem is that the Marlins may not see an issue in the middle infield. They appear to be one of the few parties that are still in full support of Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop despite 1.5 seasons of evidence working against him. Derek Dietrich has his problems and likely his detractors on the team, but he still holds a little promise. But with the Marlins lacking any depth behind these players, maybe trading from a position of depth would be a good call for the team.
What do you Fish Stripers think? Where do you think the Marlins need the most improvement?