Miami didn’t add another starter in advance of Miami’s non-waiver trade deadline, and as the club makes a playoff push, that will likely be an issue.
The Marlins’ lone move for starting pitching came Friday, when the organization acquired Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from the Padres in exchange for Jarred Cosart, Carter Capps and a pair of prospects.
Rea was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, a day after he exited his Marlins debut in the fourth inning with elbow pain. The Marlins considered it elbow soreness, which had Rea sidelined last season.
Rea must have passed his physical with the Marlins, but the Padres must have known something the Marlins didn’t. As a result, they took Rea back from the Marlins on Monday, and Miami received pitching prospect Luis Castillo in return.
Once the Marlins sent Rea back to San Diego, several reports suggested they were seeking starting pitching once again. Castillo was an option to be dangled in trade talks today. Jeremy Hellickson was among the targets.
Miami was also seeking left-handed relief help and was linked to Braves reliever Hunter Cervenka, but that’s a minor point. The Marlins can turn to Mike Dunn and acquired Fernando Rodney to upgrade the back-end of their bullpen.
While the Marlins have Cashner in the third or fourth rotation spot, the rotation is not necessarily much better than before they made that deal. Without Rea, and with Wei-Yin Chen on the disabled list with elbow issues of his own, the Marlins will be forced to turn to their depth.
Jose Urena is an option, but he struggled in his most recent outing against the Cardinals. Kendry Flores or Justin Nicolino could also receive opportunities. However, none of Miami’s prospects have had a notable amount of success this season.
Unless the Marlins make a deal in August or one of their pitching prospects exceeds expectations, the organization lacks a pitching staff that can compete with those of the best teams in the National League.
Jose Fernandez, Adam Conley and Cashner have pitched well, with Tom Koehler struggling to throw strikes at times. In the post-season, if the Marlins remain competitive and get there, they might only need four starters. But the back-end of the staff remains inconsistent.
Teams with coveted starting pitchers had high asking prices and rightfully so. But the Marlins had Castillo to move, and some felt he is a prospect with a higher ceiling than Josh Naylor. Even a rental would have helped Miami if the club is truly in “win now” mode.
Credit the Marlins for buying in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline and give them credit for making the Cashner deal. They also deserve credit for not overpaying for a starter before the deadline. But if they did, it would have been OK. That’s the market and it became the expectation.
The San Diego deal made sense for the Marlins because they received a controllable starter. That piece is now gone.
Miami has the talent necessary to compete for the rest of the season. However, against some of the National League’s best teams, they now might be an arm behind.