The Miami Marlins are standing firm on their policy that the team is still within contention, at least according to president of baseball operations Michael Hill. As a result, the Fish do not think they should be sellers at the July 31 trade deadline, at least not as of right now. From Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
"The division is keeping us in it," said Michael Hill, president of baseball operations. "But the bottom line is we have to win more games. We’ve got to get closer to .500 to really insert ourselves into the playoff picture. You can’t expect that the clubs above you will continue to tread water, keeping you in it."
In particular, the Fish are unlikely to trade any potential assets who under multiple years of team control, such as Martin Prado or Michael Morse.
That may not be an unreasonable thing, though Morse is quickly becoming less relevant as Justin Bour extends his decent early play. However, the point stands that if the Marlins believe guys like Morse or Prado would be solid contributors on next year's team, they have no reason to consider an immediate deal without an immediate replacement. Whether the thought internally is that Bour or Derek Dietrich are internal candidates for replacement is another question.
However, the Marlins seem unwilling to also deal with their upcoming pitching logjam via trade. It has already been said that Miami will allow their starters to compete for the final rotation spot. The team is unwilling to deal any of its pitching depth, meager as it may be, to resolve the logjam.
However, there are two starting pitchers on the team's current roster who are not likely to be multi-year options and would be more valuable to a contending if and when the Marlins fall out of the division race. With the team well under .500 right now, that is a real possibility; FanGraphs has Miami's chances at the playoffs at just 2.6 percent as of right now. Dan Haren and Mat Latos are unlikely to return to Miami next season for various reasons. For Latos, it is a matter of relative ineffectiveness with a difficulty with his velocity, though it may be on the mend. Meanwhile, Haren has been getting by on poor peripherals and a sky-high home run rate, and at some point the high strand rates are going to normalize as his sequencing luck regresses to the mean. At the same time, Haren is unlikely to re-sign with Miami given his previous interest in only pitching in the west coast in order to be with his family.
Neither pitcher will be receiving a contract offer from Miami. Unless Latos's fastball velocity continues its recent uptick, he is going to need a bounce back, show-me campaign in free agency. Haren may have one foot out of the door retirement-wise and probably wants to be in California. Haren's value could not be higher than right now, so he would be an ideal selling candidate for a Marlins team that may not be in contention by the deadline. Meanwhile, even if Latos does keep his velocity, Miami would have to think long and hard about re-signing a player with recent significant fragility.
In all likelihood, these two are players whom the Marlins are not using to "build a perennial contender." If the club really has that much confidence in Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena, they could help to restock their farm system with depth by sending these one-year rentals away in deals. The step down from either pitcher to the prospects is certainly present, but a middling .500 Marlins team may not feel the difference in half a season. It would also provide those players some valuable Major League experience. The 2015 season could serve as a free half-year audition that would not cost the team any service time.
If Miami stays this far behind by late July, the Fish will almost certainly be out of a Wild Card or division chance. If that is the case, there still need not be a large fire sale of any kind, but one-year rentals would no longer serve their purpose on the team. The Fish should at least keep an open mind about sending guys like Haren or Latos out.