As we established yesterday, the Miami Marlins are sellers in this year's MLB trade deadline, and unlike in previous seasons, this status in not in question. No one on the Fish believes the team is in contention unlike in seasons past, so the Marlins have a clear goal this year to jettison the failed remaining bits of the 2012 and 2006-era team.
But if the Fish are indeed selling, players have to be on the market, and as we discussed yesterday, the Marlins are not interested in sending everyone away. Only a select few players are available for trade, and the Fish will basically discuss no other options for the next month. Teams can come calling about Giancarlo Stanton, but they will find heavy resistance to do anything about the slugger this year.
So who are the Fish willing to trade? There are a few options for the Marlins, and they are listed and profiled here, in descending order of likelihood.
The Marlins are very likely to trade Nolasco before Wednesday's scheduled start, though the team is not ruling out holding him past that start and reinstating Henderson Alvarez into Tom Koehler's position in the rotation. The Marlins are holding out for what they deem is good prospect talent and full salary relief for Nolasco, meaning that the club is less inclined to pay for parts of Nolasco's remaining $5.75 million than previously expected.
While that may diminish the return expected for Nolasco, it is not going to change the fact that he will be traded. Nolasco is in the final year of his contract, and there is no doubt between he and the Marlins that his time on the team is limited to this month at most. The Fish may wait for the "right" deal, but they will not wait past the July 31 trade deadline this season.
Trade Likelihood: Very high
Webb is one of four relievers whom the Marlins may be willing to trade this season. Of the four, he is the most likely to be dealt because of his arbitration status. Webb is entering his second year of arbitration and is scheduled to at least make around $1.2 million. For most teams, that is a fairly minor salary, but the Marlins are once again uninterested in paying even minor salaries to minor relievers. Webb has struggled this season despite a 3.22 ERA and 3.60 FIP, as he has gotten away with avoiding home runs while posting a poor 1.29 strikeout-to-walk rate.
Like for most of their relievers, the Marlins are not expecting to receive much in return. Last season, the Fish dealt Edward Mujica, unfortunately the better reliever from the Cameron Maybin trade, and received a failed top prospect in Zack Cox in return. If the Fish could get a similar return with that kind of upside, the team would be thrilled.
Trade Likelihood: High
By chance, Qualls made the roster in spring training amid a number of other relief options. He has also made the most of his appearances, putting up a passable 3.45 ERA that hides an uglier 4.20 FIP. Despite the decent play on the surface, most teams are quite aware of Qualls's lesser qualities and are unlikely to give up much of a return.
If Qualls was a lefty reliever in the Randy Choate mold, the Marlins would still be able to deal him for something. But because he is a mediocre right-handed reliever, the Fish have less of a chance of getting anything of value for him. This is especially true when the team acquiring Qualls has no further control years, unlike in the cases of Mujica and Webb. Expect Qualls to be dealt, but more likely in a package deal with someone like Nolasco.
Trade Likelihood: Medium
The Marlins inexplicably like Dunn a lot. He strikes out a lot of guys (24.5 percent career strikeout rate) but walks a ton as well (13.7 percent career walk rate), so he exhibits classic qualities for a hard-throwing, late-inning reliever. Dunn is a left-hander, which also makes him more valuable, especially with his velocity.
But he has just enough bad qualities to make his game questionable. He walks so many batters that it mitigates a lot of his strikeout strength. He allows a lot of fly balls, which tends to lead to home runs, though he has cut down on that in the last two seasons. But because of his velocity, he will always end up looking better than he actually is.
That goes for the trade market, where he would hold decent value among relievers for his left-handed quality. But the Marlins like him enough, especially with him heading into just his first arbitration season, that they would rather hold onto him. The team would trade him away, but only if it were given a very good offer.
Trade Likelihood: Very low
Cishek's name has been mentioned often enough that he deserves a look here, but unlike Stanton, there is at least a reason for Cishek to be dealt. Stanton is a superstar who could carry the Fish, while Cishek is simply a nice cog in the back of the bullpen or perhaps in the closer role. He is a good reliever with some closer capabilities, but as he heads into his first arbitration season, Cishek figures to make more money thanks to the "closer" part of that job description than he likely deserves. Relievers with a career ERA of 2.69 do not fall from the sky, but a losing team has no need to pay good money for any one of those types of players. The Fish are not good enough to afford the luxury of a closer like Cishek.
However, the team also knows that it does not have to trade Cishek this season to get good value. Closers are in demand every year, and Cishek will not be so expensive in his first arbitration year that the Marlins cannot afford to wait for now. There is no urgency to deal him this season, because a similar market would most likely be available next year. The Fish like Cishek enough to pay him and wait on that market should the time come to deal him.
Trade Likelihood: Very low
No other Marlins players are likely to be dealt, either because they are undesirable pickups or are too valuable to the team to be dealt. If the Fish can pull off moves for these players with reasonable returns, it would be a successful trade deadline for the Marlins.