The Miami Marlins are looking at a potentially busy trade deadline that started early with the trade of Steve Cishek. They have two names in Dan Haren and Mat Latos who should be dealt before the deadline is through, and the Fish have receveid offers for both players. However, no deal is close and while the Marlins are working on potential offers, do not expect the team to send money along with the 35-year-old right-hander. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Marlins have already rebuffed one team on a Dan Haren deal in part because they expected some of the money sent by the Los Angeles Dodgers to come with the deal.
One team that called about Haren mentioned that the Dodgers were paying the freight and suggested that perhaps some of that money should be sent along with Haren in any deal, and at least in that deal, the Marlins were said to have declined. (A Marlins person explained that it's no different than any other negotiation with give and take, and denied that the Dodgers are paying the whole $10 million of Haren's salary, anyway; someone else said while LA included about $10 million, that could go toward Haren or Dee Gordon or anyone else, and furthermore mentioned that Haren will likely hit $3 million in incentives, so it is correct LA isn't paying the whole freight.)
The full details of the trade are, of course, not publicly available, but it is interesting to see a backtracking of the initial details of the deal. As late as May of this year, the public understanding of the offseason trade that sent Haren and Dee Gordon here is that the Marlins received $12.5 million to help cover both players.
"The Dodgers paid me to go away, so …," Haren said, smiling.
In order to complete the biggest trade of the winter for the Marlins, the Dodgers agreed to pick up Haren’s and Gordon’s salaries, a total of $12.5 million.
There was no disputing that this had occurred before signs of a trade were happening. The Marlins never publicly stated that they did not receive a full load of Haren's salary, or that they only received $10 million to help cover both Haren and Gordon. The only thing that is different is that Haren is due for what is likely at least $2 million in bonus incentive money, which could go up to $3 million, and Miami may want to retain some of that money in order to pay for their share of the bonus.
However, the general point remains frustrating. The Marlins once again are emphasizing money over prospect value in terms of return. Two years ago, in 2013, the Fish sent an overachieving Ricky Nolasco and his remaining $6 million in salary to the Dodgers for three unassuming prospects. Presumably, the team could have found a better deal had they been willing to eat Nolasco's contract, something they must have considered doing given that they started the year with him. Instead, they turned to the richest team in the National League in order to take their player and his salary fully off of their hands and received little in return. Two years later, two of those three players are no longer in the system and one appears to be a career minor leaguer.
At least in Nolasco's case, the Marlins were paying some of his salary beforehand and maybe wanted to save up and stop bleeding cash. It is a ridiculous excuse for a franchise that likely makes money on what is now its own privately-owned stadium for which the Marlins receive all of the revenue, but it is an excuse. However, in Haren's case, the Marlins already received money for him. The vast majority of his salary was paid for by the Dodgers, so the entire season has been almost free for the Fish. They have lost no money on Haren, and yet the team still has the audacity to want to keep the rest of the money earmarked for the remainder of the season just to fill its coffers. It would rather do that than receive a better prospect who could have a brighter future in the franchise. It is one thing to not pay more of your money to acquire a better talent. It is an entirely other thing to not pay more of someone else's money in order to improve the talent in your system.
It screams of the Marlins' continued emphasis on nickles and dimes rather than improving the franchise and building a better future for this at-time directionless organization. There is no excuse for Miami to not send all but maybe $2 million of the remaining money sent from the Dodgers in order to try and pry a better player away. Haren is a mediocre pitcher at this stage of his career, and all of his trade value is derived from being a free commodity on the Dodgers' payroll. If Miami refuses to pay any salary, Haren basically earns his mediocre keep and thus has no trade value, meaning you can expect more packages of do-nothing minor leaguer relievers who have very little chance of making the Majors.
A month ago, the Atlanta Braves were widely lauded (and the Arizona Diamondbacks universally panned) for a very intriguing salary dump move. The Braves took on the $7 million or so left on Bronson Arroyo's contract despite Arroyo being on the disabled list with an elbow injury and unable to pitch. In return for the salary relief, they got Touki Toussant, a top-100 pitching prospect in the Diamondbacks' low minors. This is an ingenious move by a franchise not necessarily swimming in cash; the Braves were one of nine organizations with a payroll under $100 million this year. They did this knowing that they could afford the move and essentially paid cash for talent.
The Marlins, meanwhile, continue to cry poor and claim heavy losses to justify their penny-pinching. Instead of skimping in the right places (the bullpen and its closer, for example), the team is skimping on acquiring cheap talent who could be a part of the future winning Marlins team. Once again, when other teams are looking for different ways to acquire better players, the Marlins are sticking to their same cheapskate ways to not improve the franchise.