The Miami Marlins are on a quest this offseason to find quality position players to supplement their offense, particularly at catcher, second or third base, and possibly at first base. The franchise is willing to trade this season to make those improvements, and their young pitching assets are the obvious tool they can use to acquire the talent they need.
But which starting pitchers should the Marlins trade? The franchise has one truly untouchable player in reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez, but they also have a trio of Major League-ready starting pitchers under a lot of team control. Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, and Jacob Turner are each expected to be in the starting rotation in 2014, and previously, the Marlins had labeled them as untouchable as well. But now Joe Frisaro of MLB.com is saying that the team has listed Eovaldi out of reach, but may consider trading someone like Jacob Turner instead.
Power pitching is essential to being a serious contender, and Fernandez coupled with Eovaldi gives Miami a formidable top two starters in the National League East, which has its share of elite arms.
At the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, teams were told Eovaldi was not available.
Rather than moving Eovaldi, a more realistic trade piece appears to be Jacob Turner.
In the previously linked article from Fish Stripes, we correctly labeled Eovaldi as the player with the most interesting potential to become a top-flight pitcher. He has to figure out how to throw a tertiary pitch to left-handers to become a true starter, but he has what appears to be an elite fastball that serves as a nice base upon which to build. The other two starters, Alvarez and Turner, likely have lower ceilings than Eovaldi. However, Alvarez is the probably the better pitcher of the three at this point, and Turner may still have a high ceiling given his prospect pedigree.
Of course, the pedigree that Turner had as a former top-20 prospect is about the only thing he has going for him at this point. After a promising late-season run in 2012, he struggled mightily throughout 2013, both in Triple-A New Orleans and at the big-league level. Turner has been the worst performer of the three, and that may be the reason why Miami is most wiling to trade him. At the same time, that naturally means that the 22-year-old starter will probably fetch the least amount of the three in a trade.
Turner is projected to have a 4.62 ERA and 4.26 FIP next season by Steamer's projections. It is within reason that he could do better, as he is the youngest of the three Marlins starters in question, but there is a chance that the Detroit Tigers' aggressive promotions may have once again messed up a former top prospect. It could also be that Turner simply never had the explosive stuff after some elbow troubles in the minors to match his initial prospect hype. Either way, he is the least valuable trade commodity the Marlins have of the three starters, and it may be difficult to get him to center a package for a decently valuable piece like Mark Trumbo or a starting catcher.
The Marlins are also said to be interested in trading Logan Morrison if a move appears right, but he too seems out of trade value. Beyond that, any move would have to involve the Marlins getting a first baseman in return or have already found a first baseman. Again, Mark Trumbo is among the names the Marlins are considering, but they are still likely a ways away from acquiring Trumbo in any trade.