Good news in case you haven’t been paying attention: The Miami Marlins have been in contention long enough to consider trading for help. At 37-34, they are right in the wild card mix with the likes of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the New York Mets, all of whom were (are?) expected to finish ahead of the Fish. They are only five and a half games back of the Washington Nationals in the National League East.
Yes, the Marlins are contenders. A contender with flaws, most definitely, but a contender nonetheless. So what are their needs?
It would be easy to say that they could use another ace...what team doesn’t? More specifically for the Marlins, Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley, by virtue of performance or contract, are locked in. Tom Koehler has been pitching better as of late. The walks are still there but he’s keeping runs off the board, and has managed a 1.1 fWAR to date...replacing him isn’t an immediate need.
The starting pitching depth has definitely been tested beyond them, with Jarred Cosart and Justin Nicolino’s demotions. There was Kendry Flores’ lone, brief outing and we just got a taste of what Paul Clemens has to offer. Nothing against Mr. Clemens, but I’m not holding my breath on his becoming a rotation fixture.
A week back or so I advocated for bringing in Mat Latos to fill a rotation spot...he’s officially a free agent now, so I suppose we’ll see if the Marlins have any interest. Another avenue will be through the trade market. We already know that they checked in on Jake Odorizzi yesterday, and there are others available, which we’ll discuss shortly.
The other need on the roster is more reliable middle innings relief options to help us get to the late game trio of Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and A.J. Ramos.
There has been quite a bit of turnover in the pen this season. Gone are the likes of Craig Breslow, Edwin Jackson, Jose Urena, Cody Ege, Cody Hall, Nefi Ogando, Bryan Morris, Jarlin Garcia.
The middle innings group — which presently consists of Mike Dunn, Dustin McGowan, Nick Wittgren and Brian Ellington — have been holding things down pretty good as of late, but the club might decide to acquire a veteran arm to bolster said group.
I mentioned earlier that every club could use an ace. I think we’d all love to see the Marlins trade for Clayton Kershaw, but that just isn’t going to happen. We have to acknowledge two realities regarding this franchise: The Marlins are not going to take on significant payroll, and the Marlins do not have a strong minor league system right now. This limits their options when exploring trade possibilities, but it doesn’t defeat them entirely.
One final reality is that at this point, not every team has decided whether they are buyers and sellers yet, so the market is still relatively light in comparison to what it might be a month from now.
With those expectations firmly in hand, here are five players I think the Marlins have a chance at getting who could potentially be helpful:
SP Andrew Cashner, San Diego Padres
Cashner averaged almost 2.5 fWAR between 2013-2015, before running into hard times in 2016. Due to his impending free agency, poor season to this point and injuries (he is presently on the 15-day DL with a strained neck), he should garner a relatively cheap return as compared to the rest of the field. The gamble of course is if he can regain form once here; it might be worth paying a modest price to find out. Drew Pomeranz is a name you hear come up more often, but being healthy and effective the entire season (except that one time when he faced the Marlins!), the Padres will probably ask for more then the Marlins are willing/able to give.
SP Matt Garza, Milwaukee Brewers
Garza, who had been injured for much of the year, made his debut on June 14th and looked good doing so, holding the San Francisco Giants to one run in a shortened outing. Five days later he allowed no runs to the Dodgers in Los Angeles over six innings. Small sample size undoubtedly, but I’m sure more then a couple scout’s eyebrows have lifted in his general direction. It’s hard to believe the man is only 32 years old given that it feels like he’s been around forever, and there might be enough left in the tank to make him useful for the Fish.
The problem is his contract. The Brewers would almost certainly have to eat most of the remainder of the $50 Million, four year deal that ends in 2017. They might, depending on how much they get back in prospects. He seems like a good candidate to be worked into one of those three team deals that pop up once a year.
SP Rich Hill, Oakland Athletics
Hill’s story is a great tale of journeyman perseverance. After not having started in the majors for five years, the Boston Red Sox gave him four starts in 2015 where he impressed. The Oakland Athletics took it a step further and inserted Hill and his devastating curveball full time into their rotation for 2016. The results speak for themselves: A 2.25 ERA/2.67 FIP, 2.0 fWAR accumulated, a minuscule .28 HR/9 rate and 74 strikeouts through 64 innings pitched.
The Marlins really have two hopes to nab Hill at this point: He’s baseball-old (36) and has, by far, pitched more innings this season than any other in his career since 2007. These two things might scare some other teams away. The other faint hope is that quirky Oakland really digs certain Marlins prospects more than most. It wouldn’t be the first time Billy Beane and company put themselves out on a limb for someone they really liked that didn’t necessarily grade out as a top prospect.
Barring that, it’s hard to imagine the Marlins winning the Hill sweepstakes. But they’d be fools not to try.
LHP Fernando Abad, Minnesota Twins
Abad is making a modest 1.25 million this season. Through 29 games he’s pitched 23 and two third’s innings to the tune of a 2.28 ERA/2.75 FIP, good for 0.4 fWAR to this point. The 30 year old gave up just his first homerun of the season a couple days ago. The projection systems Fangraphs employs do expect these numbers to inflate over the course of the season, but the Marlins would still be arming themselves with a reliable middle innings arm AND a second left-handed option to deploy out of the pen.
RHP Fernando Rodney, San Diego Padres
The other Fernando in play has compiled 14 saves with a 0.00 ERA/2.42 FIP in 2016. He’s running a .196 BABIP, almost full hundred points off of his career (.286). At the tender age of 39, the colorful closer still has some impressive explosiveness and movement on his fastball, averaging 95 MPH. The problem, historically, has been control. A.J. Ramos has made obtaining the save an...interesting adventure at times this season, but Fernando Rodney has the Experience™ trademarked. At least up until this season, there has been no such thing as a clean save when it comes to Fernando Rodney.
There is some major relapse coming and whoever acquires Rodney is going to experience the brunt of it. The questions is, once you weather that storm, do you then have a serviceable middle innings reliever on your hands? Someone is going to bite on Rodney, I just hope it’s not the Fish.
Can’t say it wouldn’t be entertaining, though: