It is not a fire sale. The Marlins sent Mat Latos, Michael Morse, and a 2016 competitive balance pick to the Dodgers in exchange for three minor league prospects on Thursday afternoon. Yes, there is money involved. But no, that does not make it a fire sale.
Before the start of spring training, the Marlins were confident they made the necessary moves to improve the roster and win consistently. However, having been plagued by injuries all season, the Marlins were expected to be active leading up to Friday's non-waiver trade deadline. This is significant move number two, which comes days after the Marlins dealt Steve Cishek to the Cardinals.
Trading Mat Latos was to be expected. The Marlins added him last winter likely aware he would only be pitching for them in 2015. However, he has struggled to stay healthy and had a slow start to the season. Over 16 starts he has posted a 4-7 record and 4.48 ERA. He is also costing over $9 million, but why should the Marlins pay Latos that much if Justin Nicolino, Jose Urena, Adam Conley, or another pitching prospect can perform just as well if not better? Latos has been mentioned in trade rumors for the past month. It was always when he would be dealt, not if. Now we known the when.
While Latos was expected to be traded once the Marlins fell out of contention, Morse was not. He was signed to a two-year, $16 million deal to be Miami's starting first baseman but like Latos has had difficulty remaining healthy. Cole Gillespie and Ichiro Suzuki have played well in Miami's outfield and when Giancarlo Stanton returns, Morse would not have had a spot to play. There is little value in leaving Morse, an $8 million player, on the bench. He is batting .214 and has only driven in 12 runs. Justin Bour has played notably well, which likely made dealing Morse realistic.
Miami does not have a notable amount of first base depth. The decision to move Morse might suggest Bour will be the Marlins' starting first baseman moving forward or the organization will consider other first base options. Either way, Morse was not producing. Instead of keeping him on the bench, the club moved him and got something in return.
The most overlooked part of the deal might prove to be the competitive balance pick At 34 overall, the Marlins likely could have added a key player. A club seeking prospects might not benefit from dealing picks to add talented players. But the Marlins have dealt their picks in 2013 and 2014 as well. While notable, it appears to be routine.
The Marlins were able to deal a Morse, Latos, and their entire salaries while acquiring three minor league arms. Miami did not move core players in the trade. They dealt a pair of veteran players who they expected to produce but instead have under-performed. Yes, there is money involved. But the Marlins could use it add key pieces throughout the offseason. A fire sale involves a ton of money and several starters. A salary dump? Maybe. But not a fire sale.