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Predicting the Miami Marlins To Survive the Trade Deadline

What are the odds Josh Johnson makes it to 2013 as a Marlin? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
What are the odds Josh Johnson makes it to 2013 as a Marlin? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

One day has passed since the Hanley Ramirez trade, and that day was fairly quiet in terms of Miami Marlins rumors. Still, those trade talks are swirling around the Marlins constantly as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, and fans want to have an idea of what their team will look like at the end of all of this.

Well, Fish Stripes is interested as well, and so with that in mind, I looked at the entire remaining roster of players who are not rookies, just-promoted players, or upcoming free agents and evaluated the likelihood of these players returning in 2013. As we already know from our discussion regarding Josh Johnson, different players on the Fish have different trade values and are valued differently by the franchise in terms of importance to the current team. So it only makes sense that this discussion occur in tiers, with each tier containing a different group of players with different trade values and importance to the team. The combination of these factors will lead to the likelihood of those players being traded.

Franchise Cornerstone Tier

These are the players around whom the front office would like to build the team. These players can have or not have trade value, as they are not necessarily cost-controlled or under-contract players exclusively. The binding quality of these players is that the Marlins find them the most important players on the team in terms of the club's short- and long-term future. So these guys are not going anywhere because the team wants them to stay; at the very least, it would require an absurd amount coming in return for any one of these guys, much more than their likely trade value.

Giancarlo Stanton: Stanton's name was mentioned at the onset of these trade rumors, which is perhaps part of the reason why the "fire sale" frenzy talk even began. But to be honest, everyone, even the most clueless of outsiders, knew that Stanton was not going anywhere. As of late, the Marlins have more or less put the All-Star outfielder out of reach as he continues his recovery from knee surgery, so Stanton will remain on the team as the club's future "face of the franchise" and its best and most marketable player.

2013 Return Odds: 100%

Jose Reyes: Reyes's six-year, $104 million contract more or less already assured that he would be untradable. Remember that his deal is heavily backloaded, with the last four seasons paying him $22 million each after 2012 and 2013 are scheduled to pay him $26 million combined. In that respect, the Marlins built in a pseudo-no trade clause in that teams would prefer not to take on the expensive seasons of a player who will be in his age-31 to 34 years by then. Nevertheless, the Marlins have other reasons to hold onto Reyes, in particular his status as "biggest free agent signing" from last year and his generally good play since April finished. Since the start of May, Reyes has hit a very respectable (though still not to his full level) .287/.353/.416.

2013 Return Odds: 99%

Mark Buehrle: Buerhle's position as the team's most consistent and best starter this season have all but convinced the Marlins that their four-year, $58 million deal was a good idea despite Buehrle's advanced age of 33. With the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the future rotation, with a mix of parts potentially leaving after 2013 or sooner and young prospects who will be here for a while but will need tutoring, the Marlins undoubtedly think that Buehrle's veteran presence will be a boon to both sides.

2013 Return Odds: 99%

Highest Trade Value Tier

This tier consists of only one player with a conflicting status on this team.

Josh Johnson: On the one hand, Johnson easily has the highest trade value on the team, and a return from a Johnson trade could very well go right to fixing other holes on the team. On the other hand, Johnson's final season is very affordable (hence why he has so much trade value) and his presence on the team guarantees ace-quality work unless he is injured. Then again, Johnson and injury risk tend to go hand-in-hand, so even though his health has been a boon in 2012, it is certainly no guarantee.

The discussion on Johnson's availability has been mixed at best, so there is no real word from officials regarding how likely the Marlins are to keep Johnson. Given his definite value to the team's competitiveness in 2013 and the likely importance of that competitive stance, I would say it is very likely the team will keep him; only a high-valued prospect and some other smaller pieces will pry him away. But the Texas Rangers do have that kind of offer potentially.

2013 Return Odds: 75%

No Reason To Trade 'Em Tier

The majority of the roster lies in this tier. These players are of varying skill level and thus varying importance to this ball club, but they all share a similar trait in that they are all cost-controlled players either in pre-arbitration or early arbitration seasons. Thus, they are cheap enough that, even if they held significant trade value, the Marlins would be unlikely to trade them just because they are not under any pressure to do so. Any of them may be added, however, to sweeten a trade pot if needed, especially the more expensive players.

Justin Ruggiano: Ruggiano has come out of nowhere to become a significant piece of the 2012 puzzle, and his early play has likely convinced the Marlins that he will have a spot in the 2013 puzzle as well. Ruggiano has just over a year of service time split between three separate seasons, so he is under pre-arbitration prices and thus eminently affordable.

2013 Return Odds: 98%

Emilio Bonifacio: There was some discussion about dealing Bonifacio, although apparently the Marlins were reluctant to deal him. That isn't surprising given the team's love affair with his speed. He admittedly has improved as a hitter to the point that his baserunning makes him an average asset offensively, but more importantly, the team needs him to play second base in 2013.

2013 Return Odds: 98%

Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, and the other cost-controlled relievers: The relievers the Marlins have that are not under contract or in arbitration mostly interchangeable. Sure, Cishek and Dunn have impressed the most as of late, but bullpens are a crapshoot, and the only thing the Marlins should care about is that these guys are in pre-arbitration and are cheap.

2013 Return Odds: 98%

Brett Hayes: The above reasoning is the same for Hayes. He only has two years of service time, so he is still cheap enough to be a passable backup catcher.

2013 Return Odds: 98%

Logan Morrison: Of this tier, Morrison is the most likely to be dealt, as he would be the best addition to a deal. Plus, the Marlins do still have Gaby Sanchez in the minors, however broken he may be. The chances are not high for Morrison to be traded, simply because he himself has not helped the cause by hitting so poorly, but teams may inquire for him as part of an add-on as a pre-arbitration player with potential.

2013 Return Odds: 90%

Can't Give 'Em Away Tier

These are the three players the Marlins have with the worst contracts on the team. As a result, there is very little to no chance the Marlins are able to slip away from their deals and get anything in return (or even nothing in return) without eating their salaries.

John Buck: There has been a lot of complaining about Buck's admittedly awful 2012 season, but that is exactly why the Marlins are stuck with him for 2013. Why would any team trade for him and willingly pay him $6 million next year after a season like this? Years this bad usually leave a player more valuable to his own team in the hopes of a bounce back rather than to another via a trade.

2013 Return Odds: 99%

Heath Bell: Bell's now-albatross three-year, $27 million deal that has two more seasons remaining leaves him in a similar position as Buck's. Marlins fans might as well start cheering for him to succeed, because no one is taking that load of a deal away from them.

2013 Return Odds: 99%

Ricky Nolasco: Nolasco's deal is the most interesting, as unlike in the case of $6 million backup catchers or $9 million terrible relievers, teams are always interested in veteran starting pitching depth, no matter the price tag. And Nolasco's $11.5 million deal is still affordable, if not a little below his value. It is unlikely the Fish will trade him by July 31, but I am certain they will ramp up their efforts after this season. The team may even be willing to foot part of the bill, though it is more likely they will simply take menial prospects to just get out of Nolasco's salary, if they are able to do so.

2013 Return Odds: 75%

Too Expensive For Arbitration Tier

Edward Mujica: Mujica is an OK reliever. However, he's in his final arbitration season, and even though the Marlins won't unload him before July 31, I would be surprised if they brought him back in 2013.

2013 Return Odds: 20%

The Most Interesting Tier in Baseball

Greg Dobbs: The Marlins love Greg Dobbs. They love his veteran gritty hustle pinch-hitting awesomeness. You can't measure that!

2013 Return Odds: 500%