The Miami Marlins signed Garrett Jones to a two-year contract last week with the intent to push out incumbent first baseman Logan Morrison. The team probably felt Morrison was not a helpful player at this stage in his career, and the team decided instead to spend about $1 million more this season and probably another $1-2 million more next season on an older replacement worth the same amount of on-field value.
It is possible that the Fish paid a bit more of a premium for "consistency" of production, but since Miami was paying for a consistent below average production, I do not believe that consistency was worth $2-3 million more over two years. Rather, I believe the Marlins' best chance at justifying this contract, especially with the second year attached, was to look for a decent return for Logan Morrison via trade. If Miami could snag an acceptable player back on that trade, it would make the sideways (or in some respects backwards) move of acquiring the older Jones over the younger Morrison seem more reasonable.
Well, the Marlins acquired reliever Carter Capps from the Seattle Mariners in return for Morrison in yesterday's trade. Is Capps enough of a player to earn points for the Jones signing?
We went over Carter Capps's likely trade value earlier today. In terms of being even with Morrison, it is possible that five years of his team control matches up with three years of Morrison's control, given that Morrison will be paid arbitration shortly. Capps has at least this year and next year to accrue a little value, but it is so difficult to evaluate how relievers will do in arbitration that it is not worth a stab right now. Miami has no clue whether he will be closing or on the bargain bin in a few years, and neither do we.
We do know that Capps has "closer potential," but the Marlins have a nice setup where, aside from him, the team has three other players with "closer potential," including closer Steve Cishek. Cishek may be dealt in the next few years given his high arbitration payouts, but Miami still has three more years of team control on Mike Dunn and five more years on A.J. Ramos, both of whom could close if given the opportunity this year. In that respect, Capps does not really provide any added value, though he may be the best candidate of them all.
The team did, however, need more bullpen arms this season, but it is questionable just how many the club wanted. The team already has two more prospects in Steven Ames and Arquimedes Caminero who are likely to receive Opening Day roster spots this season. The club's second lefty is Dan Jennings, and he acquitted himself well in 2013. The roster only really had one more bullpen spot available, and the team wanted a veteran reliever there. Instead, they got Capps, who has more upside and probably could produce the same amount.
But how much better is Carter Capps than someone like Michael Brady or Grant Dayton, both of whom were relievers promoted to the 40-man roster in November? Steamer projects Brady to put up a 3.48 ERA and 3.59 FIP, while Oliver projects a less rosy 3.78 ERA and 3.83 FIP. Dayton is a left-hander and is projected for similar number by Steamer, though he has far lesser projections via Oliver. But given that these players were likely all to take on a seventh inning role with fewer innings and lower leverages, was the acquisition of Capps really necessary? How much better is he than the team's next available relievers?
This says nothing about the coming of better prospects like Nick Wittigren and Colby Suggs. Miami could very well have four additional players who could fill the role that Capps does. Did Miami really add to a significant weakness on the team?
Logan Morrison's open letter
Logan Morrison knew for some time that he was on the trading block, so he had an open letter for Miami Marlins fans ready for when that time came.
If you think of the Jones signing as a single trade, the Marlins acquired Jones (and $6 million over two years if you subtract Morrison's salary) and Capps for Morrison. This is a straight addition to the team, but at the same time, was it a good enough addition to justify giving up Morrison's upside for the consistency of Jones? I do not believe getting a reliever, even a young, upside pick like Capps, is enough to justify the sideways Morrison move.
At the same time, Miami is definitely not hurt by this play. Adding talent is adding talent, after all. The odds of Morrison "figuring it out" are not very high, so adding the extra player is fine. We cannot expect the team to find a great player in return for Morrison given his disappointing play. At the same time, what are the odds Capps busts open into more than just another reliever? His upside is still that of a closer, not a sweet-swinging, young first baseman. In the end, I think the Marlins will likely see this as still a sideways move.
The deal has been made, Morrison has said his goodbyes, and now Miami fans can enjoy mid-90's stuff from another reliever. But you can bet that a lot of fans will keep an eye on LoMo to see if anything comes of him in Seattle.
- Reactions to Miami Marlins trading Logan Morrison
- Logan Morrison trade: Morrison's open letter to Marlins fans
- Miami Marlins trade Justin Ruggiano to Chicago Cubs for Brian Bogusevic
- Logan Morrison trade: Marlins trade away major disappointing career
- Logan Morrison trade: Miami gets small return for flawed player