The Miami Marlins have expressed some trade interest in various starting pitchers to help bolster a rotation that has been ailing since the start of the campaign. Behind Jose Fernandez, the team's rotation has been questionable. Wei-Yin Chen has struggled in his first season in Miami. Adam Conley is coming off eight shutout innings but has been off and on in his performances. The last two rotation spots have been held by Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, and Justin Nicolino, and none of those three have posted good performances overall this season. While Koehler has held down his position with a decent ERA and FIP, his underlying numbers portend worsening problems once players start finding some more homers against him. Cosart has been ineffective and not healthy, while Nicolino started picking up a few more strikeouts but still could not find the mark in his most recent set of starts.
The Marlins are now looking at new starting pitchers to try and acquire. MLB Daily Dish notes a few names of interest:
According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Marlins have contacted the San Diego Padres regardingDrew Pomeranz and the Tampa Bay Rays regarding Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, according to Jon Heyman, Bud Norris of the Atlanta Braves could also be in play.
Those are three interesting names, and two of them in particular might be major assistance for the Marlins in the months and years to come. Both Pomeranz and Odorizzi are team-controlled players, having only three and two years of service time in their name before this season. This would be a coup to acquire for Miami, but certain problems exist in the team's ability to pick up a player like either of those starters.
The Fish have already gauged interest in both players and probably have heard some preliminary discussion on cost. Both the Padres and the Rays are likely interested in young, cost-controlled players, meaning that the Fish will either have to pay up in the way of prospects or trade young Major League talent. The problem is that Miami has neither available for sale. The prospect well is completely dry heading into this year, with the Marlins sporting one questionable top-100 prospect in Tyler Kolek, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will not play again until next season. The team has another first-round pick in first baseman Josh Naylor as a potential option, but he starts the team's long list of mediocrity in the farm system. Miami's system is ranked 29th in baseball ahead of only the equally sad Los Angeles Angels.
Remember that the Marlins did something similar a few years ago to acquire one of the pitchers currently struggling for the team. The club sent 2013 first-round draft pick Colin Moran along with former top prospect Jake Marisnick in a multi-player deal that ultimately served to get the team Jarred Cosart. They blew a lot of farm depth to pick up Cosart, who had five years of team control left but questionable statistics to start his career, and since then the club has regretted the ill-advised move. Now the team has even less depth in the farm and still needs starting pitching.
The other option would be to trade a cost-controlled young player, but those types of players are exactly the ones Miami should be interested in keeping. If the club was trying to sell, a trade of someone like Marcell Ozuna, who was frustrated with the organization before the 2016 season, could have been an option by mid-year. But Miami is trying to buy, meaning they cannot trade starters to open up holes in one area just to fill them in another.
Middle infield seems like the only location where Miami currently boasts Major League depth. Derek Dietrich and Martin Prado are currently the starters, but 2015 All-Star Dee Gordon is slated to return to the Marlins on July 29th following the completion of his 80-game suspension for PED use. Once he comes back, he should get a chance to return to the lineup, but at the cost of whom? One of either Prado, Dietrich, or Gordon will have to spend time on the bench.
If Miami were selling or perhaps if they were wise at the deadline, they would trade Prado for minor league prospect parts and resolve this conflict. Alternatively, they could trade Dietrich for the pitching piece and consider a Prado contract for next year or find another solution at third base. Either way, these moves would not affect their attempted run at the playoffs in 2016 but could affect their depth for the 2017 season and beyond. Of the two players, it is likely that only Dietrich might be able to be a significant part of a trade that nabs Pomeranz or Odorizzi.
Still, none of these choices are enticing for the Marlins. It is likely they will not be able to acquire either pitcher; the cost for an asset-light team like the Marlins is too high. Instead, Bud Norris could be the player they end up acquiring. Unlike the other two, he has more question marks and is only on a one-year deal at a very affordable price. The Atlanta Braves would be very willing to part with Norris, and the cost would likely not be much more than a C-level prospect in the Miami farm system.