At the end of yesterday's MLB trade deadline, the Miami Marlins stood pat with the roster they had, content with where the team was heading in 2014 and beyond. In the end, while the Marlins have various trade pieces who could have held interest, the team opted for the status quo. However, the only trade the team did make was an important one, as they sent Ricky Nolasco away to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three menial pitching prospects.
The Trade: Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for Steven Ames, Josh Wall, and Angel Sanchez
The one trade the Fish did make was expected, and the return was a plausible, if not disappointing, one. The Marlins had to trade Nolasco, who was on his way out by the end of the season anyway and was rumored to have asked for a trade right after the November fire sale deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. The writing was on the wall for Nolasco, and it was only a matter of time before the Fish would have to send him away.
The only questions were going to be to whom and for how much. During the Nolasco trade bonanza in late June / early July, a number of teams were rumored, including every single team in the NL West. A California team seemed likely because Nolasco is a California native, so the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants jumped to the forefront.
The next question was for how much, and the Fish answered that for themselves by refusing to pay any of Nolasco's remaining salary. Unsurprisingly, the Fish went the cheapskate route and got the cheapskate return, as the Dodgers sent three players back, none of whom were important prospects. On the one hand, it was a disappointing return for a player who held multiple Marlins all-time records. On the other hand, it was a perfectly expected return given that the Fish refused to create value by paying parts of Nolasco's salary and that he was being what he was worth on the market. His availability only allowed him so much value.
The Rumor: Giancarlo Stanton to Anyone
If you were a team with prospects and thoughts of contention, you were rumored to be involved in the Giancarlo Stanton discussion. Despite the fact that the Fish continually mentioned that they would not trade Stanton, teams continued to call on the righty slugger, and for good reason. Stanton has team control but is coming off of his worst season since his rookie year. He has a history of injury problems that might cause alarm. But at the same time, he is a fantastic player while on the field and one who might still get better as he grows up; he is only 23 years old.
The Marlins know all that, and that is partly why they did not want to make any moves. Miami still believes it can get Stanton to agree to a long-term extension when they finally get around to offering one, so they do not feel it is necessary to trade him this year. But the Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers, among other teams, still felt the need to make offers anyway. The Rangers have been calling every week on Stanton, while it is rumored that the Pirates made an offer yesterday.
But those things do not matter, because it is August 1, and Giancarlo Stanton is still here. There will be at least two more months in the Stanton era for the Fish.
The Players Not Leaving
The Marlins had a few other interesting trade chips that would have fetched a return had the Fish decided to make them available. Despite a plethora of bullpen arms, the Fish traded no relievers at the deadline, and that includes non-tender candidates like Ryan Webb and one-year veteran rentals like Chad Qualls. The rationale for keeping them could be as annoying as "the Marlins liked them" or as realistic as "no one else did."
As for Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn, the Fish wrongfully saw them as cornerstones or at least cost-controlled players who could contribute next season. While that is absolutely true, the Marlins also failed to recognize that those players may make up to $3 million in arbitration combined next season and are at the height of their value with three team control seasons left. If the Marlins wanted to get a good return, they could have dealt Cishek. But Miami wanted a great return, and that was not going to happen. It would seem that the Fish overvalued their relievers again.
The Miami Marlins stayed quiet at the deadline, and whether that is a good or bad thing for them remains to be seen. The Fish could have gotten value for their relievers, but how much different would the franchise be with or without Mike Dunn, for example? The important trade of Nolasco was completed, but it was disappointing as well, so it is difficult to tell whether that helped Miami and merely released Nolasco's salary. Overall, the quiet trade deadline turned out to be a not-very successful one either, unless you count not trading Stanton a significant "success."