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Trade Willis?

Well, it is happening already and I stupidly thought we would get at least a little breather before the general managers' meeting this month.  Silly me.

I completely missed this story when it came out.  Now, I could go into the reasons why that happened but I would just be boring you with details of my personal life.  Luckily and not surprisingly, Photi was on top of the situation at Fish Chunks.  The way he always is.

The story is that Buster Olney thinks the Marlins should trade Dontrelle during the off-season.  Here is what he had to say:

There is so little pitching available this winter that if the Marlins dangled Willis, there would be a robust trade market for him. Willis turns 25 this winter, he's left-handed, he has a World Series ring. The Marlins could get the kind of top outfield prospect that they need if they agreed to deal Willis.

But if Florida keeps Willis, whose salary could be in the area of $8 million next season after he goes through arbitration, and he has a season similar to what he posted last year -- a decent-but-not-great 12-12, 3.87 ERA -- his trade value will drop, as his salary rises, as he gets closer to free agency.

There are questions about how long Willis can maintain his complicated delivery, and whether he'll stay healthy. And Florida has enough depth in its rotation (Josh Johnson, Scott Olsen, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco) to trade Willis now and still be competitive next year.

His value will never be higher than it is right now, and the Marlins should take advantage of that.

First off: if the Marlins can only come away with a center field prospect for Willis, it better be the incarnate of Willie Mays and the last I heard, Mr. Mays was alive and well.

I know he didn't mean just one prospect, necessarily - or least I hope he didn't.  But there are some problems with his analysis of the Marlins situation.

One being: he is assuming that everyone of the young pitchers he mentioned will continue to blossom into a quality starter.  Now, that may happen and I hope it does, but it is not a guarantee.  Think Jason Vargas.  Of course Mr. Vargas may still regain his 2005 form or he may not.  We will see.  If you don't like that analogy, anyone remember Ryan Dempster?  Not to mention Johnson ended the season on the DL.

My point is a full season in the majors, and for most, a partial season however successful, doesn't mean it is time to jettison your most reliable pitcher in search of some prospects which may or may not pan out.  Hermida was the second ranked prospect in all of the minor leagues last year and was considered by some a near lock on the ROY but that didn't workout.  I'm not saying that Jeremy won't turn out to be an excellent player but the jury is still out.

The next point I want to address is his salary.  While I doubt it will be $8 million next season, it will probably be closer to $6.5 million, could eventually become a drag on the financially challenged Marlins.  But the same can be said of Cabrera.  As I have said before: if the Marlins can't secure some kind of stadium deal, they will keep trading proven players for prospects until they have one.

Which brings up another point in the salary/stadium quandary, if the Marlins were to trade away one of the faces of team it would further erode the fan base.  In order to get a stadium deal done in South Florida, the local politicians have to be on board.  If the fan base is diminished to the point they wield next to no clout, then the stadium issue has the potential of being ignored.

The last thing about Mr. Olney's article: he writes as if Dontrelle is going to breakdown, physically, very soon.  Willis has been the team's most durable young pitcher in very recent history.

The way I see it: Dontrelle will start the season with the Marlins.  And if a stadium deal is not reached - he may not finish it in teal.

Whether Dontrelle remains with the Marlins has nothing to do with "his value will never be higher", but will have everything to do with the future revenue stream of the organization.

Oh by the way, is it time for Minnesota to trade Johan Santana?  I hear that his value is about as high as it is going to get and the Twins have some good young pitchers.  I bet he could pull in a boat load of prospects.