Miami wanted to upgrade its starting rotation and did so Friday morning by acquiring Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from the Padres in exchange for prospects Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo and starter Jarred Cosart.
Since the end of June, the Marlins have been hoping to add another starter to an already effective unit that features Jose Fernandez and Adam Conley, who are both having solid seasons. While they were able to add depth before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Marlins overpaid for comparably average arms.
In this particular deal, it doesn’t seem the Marlins paid for quality. They paid for innings and did so at a time when several other clubs were seeking starting pitching.
Cashner, an impending free agent, has pitched to a 4.76 ERA and 4.94 FIP over 79.1 innings with the Padres before being dealt. Although he is having a down year, he’s pitched to a career 3.73 ERA and 3.79 FIP. The upside is there, and Cashner will likely become Miami’s second or third starter behind Fernandez.
The key in this deal is Rea. Miami wasn’t complacent adding just one arm, which in this context likely would have been a one-for-one Naylor for Cashner proposal that the Padres reject. Instead, they add a controllable starter who could also prove to be valuable in the back end of Miami’s rotation.
Miami was known to be one of the more aggressive teams on the market, and after missing out on Drew Pomeranz, the club was quick to make a move. By making a deal days before the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, the Marlins jumped the market. If this trade is made this weekend or on Monday, there might be even more prospects involved.
It’s significant the Marlins were able to make a reasonable trade, since they have one of the worst minor league systems in baseball. Beyond Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo, there aren’t many attractive names. As the deadline approached, it seemed moving Naylor in the current landscape was inevitable.
Don’t overanalyze what the Marlins gave up for a few months of Cashner and a few years of Rea. Several teams will be overpaying for Jeremy Hellickson and others before the deadline, almost certainly making this deal less extreme by comparison.
Miami was forced to part with its second and sixth best prospects, a power first baseman in Naylor and a pitcher who touches 100 mph in Castillo. The market set that standard. The Marlins didn’t.
While prospects are highly valued, you cannot assess them until they reach the majors. Neither one was particularly close to doing so. And Miami parted with only one major league player in Cosart, who hasn’t pitched well.
If the season ended Friday, the Marlins would be playing in the Wild Card game. Miami has a good of chance of winning the contest, with Fernandez almost certainly making the start. The Marlins aren’t out of the division picture, either, entering play Friday five games behind the Nationals.
Miami’s rotation has pitched to a 4.05 ERA, which ranks sixth in the National League. Adding Cashner and Rea might not improve that figure significantly, but neither one has to.
The deal proves the Marlins are committed to winning in 2016. Miami didn’t have to make a trade for pitching but did so after recognizing its window of opportunity. Not one team has run away with the division or Wild Card, and as a result, Miami is in contention for the first time in several seasons.