At 30-45, the Miami Marlins are 11.5 games back in the National League East. The club has struggled with runners in scoring position and its rotation has been plagued by injuries. Neither of those things can be directly controlled by the front office. But soon, the front office might be forced to take action.
Giancarlo Stanton, 25, has been among the most consistent Marlins and was rewarded last offseason. He was given a $325 million contract, the largest in North American sports history, and is on pace to finish the season with 58 home runs. He is batting .265/.346/.606 to complement 27 home runs and 67 RBIs through 74 games. But Stanton reportedly has a broken bone is his left hand and will be out for four to six weeks. That alone might be enough to alter the Marlins' strategy for the remainder of the season.
Although the Marlins are in fourth place in the East, neither the Nationals nor the Mets have run away with the division. A quick winning streak and the Marlins could enter the conversation again but that may no longer be realistic.
Beyond Stanton and Dee Gordon, the Marlins' offense has had difficulty establishing itself as consistent. Martin Prado and Michael Morse are on the disabled list, Christian Yelich and Adeiny Hechavarria's bats are just coming around and J.T. Realmuto is in his first stint as the Marlins' starting catcher. Derek Dietrich and Justin Bour have had a fair amount of success since being promoted but it is not the lineup the Marlins' front office put together. Thus, it is hard to evaluate.
While the offense has not produced on a nightly basis, Mat Latos, Jarred Cosart, and Henderson Alvarez have all seen time on the disabled list in 2015. Steve Cishek struggled early but A.J. Ramos has had success as the Marlins' closer. Young prospects, including Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena, have been called upon and have positively responded. But for the Marlins, it has not been enough.
Runs and scoreless innings pitched have been hard to come by. As a result of the Stanton injury, the Marlins should consider moving a few veteran pieces. That does not mean a fire sale and it does not mean trading a handful of young core players, which the Marlins have consistently said they would not do. It simply means trading a Dan Haren or Mat Latos, who likely will not be with the Marlins beyond 2015. It means dealing a Martin Prado and attempting to receive third base depth in another transaction. It means considering trading a few major league pieces that could yield prospects that can help Miami in the future. With Stanton out, the Marlins should indeed start thinking about 2016.
Stanton's injury does not end the Marlins' 2015 campaign. Marcell Ozuna will likely slide into right field with Ichiro Suzuki, in pursuit of 3,000 career hits, playing center. The Marlins can now test young talent and see how their prospects fare against major league athletes. Miami can still remain competitive this season. How competitive remains to be seen.
Jose Fernandez is set to make his season debut on Thursday against the Giants and perhaps nothing makes the Stanton injury more significant than that. Fernandez is a key upgrade to the rotation. The Marlins sell Fernandez and Stanton together on the same field and that is likely what most baseball fans want to see. Now Fernandez will be on the mound. But Stanton will be missing in right field.
There is still a lot of baseball left to be played and of course anything is possible. But with Stanton out, the Marlins should at least consider selling a few major league pieces. It could prove to be beneficial moving forward.