The Miami Marlins have had conflicting rumors swirling around them regarding their intentions at this year's MLB trade deadline. On the one hand, Miami has stayed competitive for much of the season and was considering adding pieces as late as two weeks ago. On the other hand, they stand eight games back of the NL East division and 6.5 game back of the Wild Card, with four teams ahead of them in the race. It is nearly impossible to figure a scenario where Miami climbs back in this race.
Naturally, that would lead to rumors that the Fish would be selling, especially with interesting names like Casey McGehee, Steve Cishek, and Mike Dunn on their team. But according to Jim Bowden of ESPN, the Marlins are more likely to add than subtract from their Major League roster.
Marlins not shopping any veteran players rather looking for deals to improve present and next year teams
— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 24, 2014
Miami would like not to send the wrong impression to Giancarlo Stanton by trading guys like McGehee and Cishek, who hold real trade value in this year's market. The idea is that any deal would hurt the current squad and make Miami's odds of signing Stanton back smaller. If the Marlins' ultimate goal was to appease Stanton enough to sign him to a long-term contract, this should factor in to the debate.
But there are a few obstacles in the way of this thinking. For one, the Marlins' need to promote their top prospects quickly has left their current minor league system low on talent. The Fish have pitching depth, but it is lower-end quality depth that is highlighted by fringe top-100 players rather than true future stars. The only pitcher on the Marlins' minor league squad that has strong potential is Andrew Heaney, and he is close enough to the majors that Miami may as well just promote him. The rest of their talent may not be enough to buy a team-controlled piece like Ian Kennedy or Ben Zobrist, as we discussed here and here.
We are also fairly certain that Stanton is unlikely to return, and the Marlins in the meantime would be making mistakes running a franchise to appeal to a star who may not remain with the team for much longer. Is it in Miami's best interest to continue to appease Stanton when, by this offseason, they may still have to trade him? If that were the case, the Fish should probably explore any options to try and improve their team's long-term outlook, including acquiring talent to fill other gaps by trading players who are about to become very expensive for their roles (Cishek) or may be playing above their heads (McGehee).
This is a moot point if Miami cannot find a player a good match for a trade; they should not send guys like Cishek and McGehee, who are under team control for 2015, just for any package. But saying that Miami will only look for deals that improve their team this year and next without considering the context of their current situation and the players they have is stubborn. The Marlins should know their talent and know that some players are prime for their best trade value right now. The San Diego Padres made that mistake when they failed to send away Chase Headley in time. Miami should not make the same error.
Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for all the latest trade rumors in 2014!