The Miami Marlins have pulled their first deal off before the 4 PM trade deadline, moving reliever Edward Mujica to the St. Louis Cardinals for third baseman prospect Zack Cox. MLB Network's Peter Gammons reported it on Twitter:
Cards got Edward mujica for Zachary Cox— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 31, 2012
Edward Mujica had one of his best seasons out of the bullpen last year, as he put up a 2.96 ERA and 3.20 FIP in 76 innings of work. But this season, the home run bug that bothered him with the San Diego Padres has come back to bite him, as he allowed six homers in only 39 innings after letting through seven in almost double the innings count in 2011. In addition, he walked more guys and struck out fewer guys, leading to a 4.38 ERA and 4.51 FIP that left him as a just another bullpen arm.
Zack Cox, on the other hand, came into the 2012 season ranked 88th among the top prospects in baseball according to Baseball America, but his stock has tumbled due to a poor age-23 season in Triple-A. Cox is hitting just .254/.294/.421 (.311 wOBA) in hitter's paradise of the Pacific Coast League.
UPDATE (3:54 PM EST): John Sickels of Minor League Ball has his quick thoughts on Zack Cox.Here is what John Sickels of Minor League Ball said about Cox before the season.
7) Zack Cox, 3B, Grade B: I've had some negative intuitive vibes about him, but he hit well enough in Double-A to ease some of those doubts. I still wonder about his home run power, which keeps him from a higher grade.
Following his poor 2012 year, here's what Sickels had to say.
7) Zack Cox, 3B, Grade B: Hitting .254/.294/.421 with 12 walks, 63 strikeouts in 299 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis. The "negative intuitive vibe" I had turned out to be better than the optimistic scouting reports, but he is too young to give up on.
So Sickels was certainly more right than others about Cox's chances, and it is very possible that he will have to repeat Triple-A next year. But for the Marlins, none of that matters, as the team is getting a decent third base prospect who should at least compete for a starting job next season given the Marlins' huge gap at third base. For the Fish, this is a completely risk-free trade victory because the team turned Mujica, a very likely non-tender candidate as he heads into his third season of arbitration, into a potentially useful piece filling a direct major league need who still has some pedigree. Even if the down 2012 is real, the Marlins created an opportunity out of what would certainly have become nothing by 2013.