And just like that, the ugly Jacob Turner era ends with the Miami Marlins, even though it never had to.
The Fish finished up their deal with the Chicago Cubs, trading Turner to the Cubbies for two minor league relievers. ESPN's Keith Law had the initial report via Twitter.
Cubs acquire RHP Jacob Turner from Marlins for a couple of minor leaguers. Love this pickup for Chicago.— keithlaw (@keithlaw) August 8, 2014
When asked who those minor leaguers were, Law reported that they were essentially of no consequence.
The two relievers turned out to be righties Tyler Bremer (according to his own brother Noah) and Jose Arias, according to ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers.
My brother Tyler Bremer just got traded to the @Marlins I wish him the best of luck.— Noah Bremer (@bremdizzle10) August 8, 2014
Pitchers Tyler Bremer and Jose Arias go to Marlins for Jacob Turner— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 8, 2014
Neither pitcher was a top-30 prospect by Baseball America in the Cubs organization, but both have pitched well in Low-A this season. Arias is a 23-year-old too old for Low-A baseball who otherwise has dominated, posting a 1.77 ERA and 2.71 FIP in 40 2/3 relief innings. Bremer is even older at 24 years of age, but he too pitched well in Low-A with a 2.43 ERA and 2.74 FIP before getting a rude awakening in High-A. Neither pitcher looks like a future contributor.
This ends the saga of the Jacob Turner designated for assignment move that made zero sense for the Marlins. The Fish wanted the roster spot on the 40- and 25-man rosters, presumably to bring up aged righty Brad Penny to fill a hole in the rotation left by, well, Jacob Turner. Turner had pitched poorly in the rotation all season, posting a 6.03 ERA and 4.53 FIP, but he had improved in some aspects of his game over last season. His walk rate had dropped and his strikeouts came back up a bit, and more importantly, he showed flashes of being a decent reliever in a meager 15 2/3 innings of work. Turner whiffed 14 batters with just three walks and no homers in those innings, but gave up a .407 BABIP en route to a 5.74 ERA out of the pen that hid a more impressive 1.92 FIP.
The Marlins are getting back what a prospect expert like Law says is minor league depth in return, which essentially does not help the Marlins at all. Combine that with the likelihood that Brad Penny will add nothing to the Marlins' chances of competing in 2014, and the jettison of Turner is a lopsided lose-lose deal for the Fish. As we mentioned yesterday in lambasting the reasoning behind the deal, the alternatives were present. Miami could have demoted Sam Dyson or Dan Jennings back to Triple-A, where both have been shuttled back and forth, and kept Turner in a long relief or mopup role where he would not hurt any games that mattered to Miami. There, he could develop and revamp his game for the bullpen and see if shorter bursts could help improve his work.
Instead, Miami opted for no upside instead of low upside and essentially released Turner. The Cubs have had recent success making over seemingly broken pitchers, having found the spark in former Orioles prospect Jake Arrieta. Then again, the Cubs did trade Carlos Zambrano to us for Chris Volstad, and that did not work out, so nothing is a guarantee for the 23-year-old Turner. Still, the Marlins have so little guaranteed talent in the minors that it seems counter-intuitive to trade a team-controlled player who is posting his best career strikeout and walk rates for any one season for absolutely nothing when they could have kept him for absolutely nothing.
The Marlins will try out Penny and see how much the 36-year-old can offer. When he inevitably falters, the Fish may turn to their young players again in their race for a fringe playoff spot. But the point is not that Turner would have been a better pitcher. The point is that this move is a shortsighted mistake on principle by the Marlins' front office, regardless of whether Turner turns out to be Volstad or Arrieta. It is a mistake regardless of hindsight years down the line. Even if Miami never suffers significantly from it, this is the incorrect move for a talent-starved roster.