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Marlins, Mets Discussed Trade For Buck, Bell, and Bay

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Should the Marlins even consider trading for the awful Jason Bay? Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
Should the Marlins even consider trading for the awful Jason Bay? Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed a potential trade deadline deal that never materialized for the Miami Marlins, and it seemed like a doozy. In terms of bad contracts at least.

Consider this fascinating change-of-scenery exchange that the Miami Marlins and New York Mets kicked around, according to major league sources:

Outfielder Jason Bay to the Marlins for reliever Heath Bell and catcher John Buck.

The deal never was close, sources said. But it would have enabled both clubs to purge players who are flopping miserably this season.

Rosenthal goes on to say that the move would have matched up in terms of money very well, and indeed it would have. Jason Bay has about $21 million in total left in his four-year contract originally signed in 2010, and all of that is tied to the 2013 season. Bay's $18 million salary will be followed by a sure $3 million buyout of the club option, with the Marlins or Mets making sure that he has no chance of vesting the option by reaching 600 PA in 2013. Meanwhile, John Buck has $6 million in his left in his final year of a three-year deal signed in 2011, while Heath Bell's contract remains hefty at $9 million for each of the next two seasons along with the potential vesting fourth year. In total, that means that the Marlins owe just about as much money to Bell and Buck over the next few seasons as the Mets owe Bay next year.

Rosenthal mentions that, because none of these contracts are worth claiming during waivers, it is almost a certainty that all three players will pass waivers untouched and the Marlins and Mets can revisit this deal. Here is why the Marlins should actually consider this move.

Bell, Buck Are Sunk Costs

The Marlins have dead weight on their roster in Buck and Bell, who just have not worked out as the team planned. With no other way to get rid of them, the team is undoubtedly going to be stuck paying their salary. For Buck, the situation is not so bad, because he still plays catcher and most teams can accept their catcher hitting poorly (though not the replacement-level poorly that Buck has done this season). But with Bell, the team has already demoted him and may not return him until he proves he is a shutdown reliever once more, which may never actually happen.

However, as much as the Marlins have done to diminish the roles of Bell and Buck, the team undoubtedly will not let them rot on the bench because of their contracts, no matter how badly they end up doing. At this point, Buck would have been benched had the team had better options, but the presence of Buck on the club actually will prevent the Marlins from pursuing other catching options in free agency or trade unless they rid themselves of his contract. To a degree, the same goes for Bell. Call it stubbornness, but this team's lack of understanding of sunk costs probably prevents them from cutting ties with money still being paid.

By getting rid of both players, the Marlins will not feel obligated to commit to playing those players and can pursue options for their replacements, whether in-house or from elsewhere.

Bay Fills A Need (Poorly)

Look, no one is going to confuse Jason Bay with a good player. And the honest truth is that playing Bay as the team's full-time left fielder would be awful (unless there was a bigger return coming from the Mets, more on that this offseason). But if Justin Ruggiano fails to impress, Bay can fill a role with the Marlins as a part-time left fielder and first baseman.

Yes, Ruggiano has been spectacular thus far this season, but spelling him on occasion with Bay seems like a reasonable move if the Marlins were to acquire him. The more attractive option, however, is to play Bay at first base to occasionally spell Logan Morrison, who should be the full-time first baseman next season. Manager Ozzie Guillen has already platooned Morrison a decent amount in left field this season, in part to spare his surgically repaired knee from damage. With the righty Bay on the bench, the team can use him against tough left-handed pitching. To be fair, Bay has never played first base in the majors, but with his decent size and increasing age, that may be his best defensive position.

Clears Space For 2014

If the Marlins decide to eat all of Bay's present salary, the Fish can make 2014 a target for free agent acquisitions and perhaps punt the 2013 free agent season, save for a center field acquisition. Maybe the team feels a Josh Johnson extension is more doable if they eat all of the future money in the present (and save some money in total). Maybe a Martin Prado becomes an option for the Marlins. Maybe the Marlins take a flyer on a Chase Utley. The pickings may be slim, but with reinforcements in the outfield and rotation coming in by 2014, the Marlins will have fewer holes to fill.

This deal is intriguing and could be worthwhile for the Fish, Keep it in the back of your mind as August continues.