MLB.com's Joe Frisaro occasionally gives us an Inbox piece in which he answers emails that contain questions from inquiring Miami Marlins fans. Some of those questions are worth talking about. Other questions are worth scoffing, but we won't do that here at Fish Stripes! What we'll do is tackle every question in each edition of Frisaro's inbox, and this process continues with this week's edition.
One thing I like about the offseason is the Inbox. I have heard a lot of trade rumors and free-agent rumors. In your opinion, what do you think about Dan Uggla coming back to Miami? Also, what are the chances of getting Mark Trumbo, Eric Chavez or Yuniesky Betancourt?
-- Joans O., Havana, Cuba
The other names have been discussed in decent length (Trumbo, Chavez, Betancourt), but the Dan Uggla rumors are always an intriguing thought. There is a reason why the Atlanta Braves are so interested in dealing Uggla. He just finished a season in which he hit .179/.309/.362 (.303 wOBA) while playing his typical brand of Uggla defense, all while earning $13 million last year. He will earn $13 million a season in each of the next two years as well. Uggla got bad enough that the Braves turned to Elliot Johnson for decent stretches at the end of the 2013 season; Johnson is a career .218/.273/.319 (.263 wOBA) hitter.
In other words, the contract that Uggla signed right after he rejected a four-year extension from Miami and was subsequently dealt to Atlanta has turned out to be a bit of a bust. In order for Miami to be willing to try him at second base in 2013, however, it would take more than just a menial trade. The Fish would not even consider taking on all of the remaining $26 million owed to Uggla, so the Braves would have to pay at least half of that to even get marginal minor leaguers back.
Even if they paid, however, I do not believe Miami would want Uggla back. The negotiations at the end were not good, and the two sides parted on poor terms. The Marlins were smart to trade him in 2011, and they would be smart to avoid him in 2014.
Would the Marlins have an interest in former top prospects who have lost some of their hype? Tony Sanchez of the Pirates is a good defensive player behind the plate, and may still hit, while the Pirates are deep behind the dish. Tim Beckham of the Rays could play second as another example.
-- Matt J., Boynton Beach, Fla.
Matt J of Boynton Beach, FL, you have yourself a fine question. This would be an interesting idea for the Marlins if the prices were right on those examples. Tony Sanchez in particular is intriguing simply because he has a fantastic defensive reputation and, once upon a time, hit decently in the minors. He was among the Pirates' most valued prospects until an ugly 2011-2012 stretch took him out of top prospect running, but if they do not value him as a strict backup, Miami could probably get him on the cheap.
Beckham is a bit raw despite multiple years in Triple-A, but the only reason the Marlins should be interested is because of their distinct lack of shortstop depth. He was still playing the position in 2013 in Triple-A Durham, and the team could do worse than another warm body in Triple-A, provided the cost is essentially nothing.
Since the Marlins are searching for a player who can drive in runs, how about an old friend, Jorge Cantu? He fits the mold of someone who can give you doubles and drive in some runs. He could be a steal on the market.
-- Sam M., Orlando
Ahaha, no. No way. Please, no.
This is one of the questions that should not be asked. Jorge Cantu last played in the majors in 2011, and he was not exactly good at hitting then. He also has no position other than first base, and he is probably not a good enough hitter to man that position. That is almost like asking Mike Jacobs to come back and play first for us.
With the outfield depth in the organization, what are the chances the Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton for a big bat in the form of a third baseman or catcher?
-- Daniel P., Tampa
This is a very important question. As Frisaro mentions, the Marlins have been denying any team that comes calling for Giancarlo Stanton. The reasoning behind this, Frisaro says, is that Miami had a terrible offense last season and cannot afford to trade their only good offensive piece heading into next year. Of course, that reasoning is shortsighted. The Marlins are not playing for 2014, but rather for 2015 and beyond, and if Stanton is not a part of their plans in those future seasons, then the team should get value as soon as possible.
It all comes down to an extension. Next year would be too late to sign an extension that would be significantly beneficial to the team, so if the Fish are planning to keep Stanton beyond the 2016 season, they need to sign him this year. Any more procrastination or failure to do this should result immediately in the Marlins attempting to trade Stanton for the best value possible. It is simply unlikely that the Fish can sign him to a market deal in a few years' time, and that means they would be keeping Stanton during rebuilding campaigns in 2014 and possibly 2015. It would not be a wise use of resources, especially since the club has some depth in the outfield.
What is going on with Rob Brantly? He was supposed to be the catcher of the future. Why isn't he being mentioned as a starter?
-- Beth C., Fort Lauderdale
Brantly struggled too much last season, both on offense and defense, that the Marlins quickly soured on his future prospects. But he is still young enough that time in Triple-A could help him develop. The problem is that Jacob Realmuto is breathing down his neck and probably heading to a Triple-A promotion this upcoming season, at which point Miami will have to emphasize one of those two players.
Neither guy looks like a lock for "catcher of the future" anymore though. The Fish should really consider finding long-term options at the position via trade.