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Who Would Trade for Oviedo?

Yesterday I pointed out (once again) the foolishness of the Miami Marlins re-signing Juan Oviedo. Today, Juan C. Rodriguez mentioned a conversation with Oviedo in which he mentions that he is prepared for the possibility of being traded.

"I can't say anything about that," said Oviedo, about the Bell signing. "Those are things the Marlins decide. I'm prepared for whatever they want and will give 100 percent. It's a business. I'd like to stay in Miami, but those are things they decide.

The possibility is there certainly, but the question is what team would really acquire Oviedo, and what could the Marlins possibly get in return? After all, at Oviedo's salary, he almost has to be paid as a closer for a team to offer anything in return, even if the Marlins pay some amount of money for the other team. Let us consider the market for closer-type relievers (if one can even consider Oviedo that type of player) and what teams could still be interested in a late-inning reliever.

The Closer (Buyer's) Market

As we have seen all offseason, closers have been in high supply and not necessarily high demand. After the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, and Marlins filled their various closer "needs," the market dried up quickly. The Phillies pounced early on Jonathan Papelbon, the Marlins did the same on Heath Bell, and the Red Sox opted to trade for Andrew Bailey. The other teams that had holes to fill also got it done with the abundant class of free agent relievers; the Texas Rangers signed Joe Nathan in order to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation, the San Diego Padres traded for Huston Street, and finally the last straw came when Ryan Madson signed with the Cincinnati Reds recently.

It is important to note what Madson's final deal ended up being. He signed a one-year deal worth $8.5 million with the Reds. Madson was one of the better relievers of last season and one of the Phillies' core of players for the last few seasons. Until he was tabbed for the closer's role last year, he was an integral part of their pen and one of the better relievers in the game. After a year that he expected would be rewarded with a four-year, $44 million free agent deal, he had to settle for a one-year contract with the last team that had a closer availability.

Madson's deal is only $2.5 million more than Oviedo's, and the comparison between the two players is not even close.

Madson, Year IP K% BB% ERA FIP Avg WAR
2011 60 2/3 25.2 6.5 2.37 2.25 1.6
2010 53 29.5 6.0 2.55 2.61 1.2
2009 77 1/3 24.4 6.9 3.26 3.23 1.5
2009-2011 191 26.1 6.5 2.78 2.75 4.3

Oviedo, Year IP K% BB% ERA FIP Avg WAR
2011 64 1/3 20.5 7.8 4.06 3.98 0.4
2010 65 26.3 7.8 3.46 2.86 1.3
2009 68 2/3 20.5 9.5 4.06 5.17 -0.1
2009-2011 198 22.4 8.3 3.86 4.02 1.6

Madson was heads and tails above Oviedo is every major category, yet because of the depressed closer market, he will earn only $2.5 million more than Oviedo next season. When players like Madson are not earning much, how can the Marlins expect to get any sort of return on an inferior player like Oviedo? This is compounded by the fact that there are other relievers like Francisco Rodriguez who have also earned the "proven closer" label and are also available for setup or closer duty should a player go down and require a replacement.

We'll Foot the Bill

There may be few buyers right now, but what about in the middle of the season? Teams suffer injuries often, and it would not surprise anyone to see a closer go down due to poor play or injury. But why would Oviedo be the option a club goes for? Consider that if a trade would be made, the acquiring team would have to be among the contending clubs in baseball; no losing ballclub trades midseason for a rental closer. What contending teams could possibly be interested in acquiring Oviedo, who is not a significant upgrade over most relievers?

But what if the team is just looking to add depth? Well, the Marlins would have to foot the bill for most if not all of the salary if the team wants to get anything in return. And even if that is the case, the Fish still probably would receive very little in return. Remember what the Marlins got for Jorge Cantu at the trade deadline in 2010? That return would likely be a king's ransom compared to what Oviedo would bring as a reliever. Even with a good performance in 2012 and the Marlins paying almost all of his remaining salary, it is doubtful the team gets much more than a lottery ticket minor leaguer that is unlikely to amount to much.

So yes, there is a possibility that Oviedo is dealt. But the possibility that the Marlins find a suitor to offer anything more than lint in return is so poor that at this point, he holds more value on the team than off. The bottom line is that whatever the intention was for the Marlins with Oviedo in 2012, it was always going to be worse than simply non-tendering him as the majority of the logical world would have done.