The Miami Marlins have won four games in a row, six of their last seven, and have climbed back into range of a .500 record. This, naturally, has gained them a small amount of games in the Wild Card and NL East division races. Having made that ground, Miami now has a chance to actually close in on a competitor in the NL East, as they have the Washington Nationals in town for a three-game set at Marlins Park. With another impressive sweep, Miami could be as close as within four games of the division lead and could gain a game or two on the Wild Card picture as well.
That is why, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, this Nationals series may determine the Marlins' outlook at the trade deadline.
That’s why he’s looking forward to this weekend’s home showdown against the first-place Nationals, who arrive for a three-game series that carries more than one implication for the Marlins.
The Marlins could not only make up ground on the division leaders with a successful series, but also would likely put Marlins management into buy mode as they near Thursday’s nonwaiver trading deadline.
If the Marlins come out with a strong showing and a sweep, the Fish might be close enough to the division lead that they would want to explore a trade for that second baseman or starting pitcher that they have been clamoring about. Miami's pitching depth has not helped them in terms of Major League performance, as the club has somehow returned to throwing out Brad Hand and Jacob Turner after only briefly attempting guys like Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani. The Marlins would like to find a pitcher who is under team control for at least the 2015 season, and you can bet that affordability for that 2015 season and beyond is relevant as well (sorry Marlins fans, you can forget David Price for a myriad of reasons).
The Fish may also look at filling the second base spot. The keystone has been manned by various players in the last few months, all of whom had their share of warts. The Marlins are currently turning to Donovan Solano and Jordany Valdespin, which tells you all you need to know about the desperate nature of the position in Miami. The Fish could look at names like Ben Zobrist (whom we discussed here) or Aaron Hill, particularly if the trading team provides some of the money to fund for the final season of team control.
But Miami could flip the switch and look to trade some of their players as well if the team is swept out of this series. Guys like Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, and Casey McGehee could still be made available if Miami cannot pick up wins and the front office deems the race essentially over.
The Marlins truthfully would need a miracle to step back into this race. There are two teams ahead of it in the division, and the leader is a whopping seven games in front. The Wild Card is more attainable, but it guarantees only a 163rd game and there are five teams with better records than Miami. The Marlins are right to not look for rentals, and if an opportunity for a good talent under control in 2015 comes up, the Fish should still consider it. But guys like Cishek and Dunn have more value now than they do in the offseason, and the Marlins could get a nice prospect haul back if they were willing to make a trade. That return may be more valuable than trying to find a way to climb back from six or seven games down.
Having said that, the fact that the Fish are close enough to contention to even have this conversation in July is a nice touch. Here's hoping Miami sweeps the Nationals and we have an interesting weekend ahead.