Before I start this, it has to be known that nothing I write here is a knock on Dan Straily. The right-hander is coming off of the best season of his career. His 3.76 ERA in 2016 was the best of his career in a season in which he pitched a career-high 191 1⁄3 innings.
He held opponents to a career-low .218 batting average last season with the Reds and his 2.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio was also a career-best.
Straily had a great season and could be a a pivotal piece in the Marlins’ rotation in 2017, but what Miami gave up for the 28-year-old is a bit concerning. Despite Straily’s stellar 2016, he as only had real starting success for one year, and that year still wasn’t up to the level of a top two or three starting pitcher.
The Marlins sent two of their top pitching prospects, Luis Castillo and Austin Brice, and a lower level outfield prospect, Isaiah White, to the Reds for Straily on Thursday.
Castillo may have been the Marlins best pitching prospect last season. He pitched to a 2.07 ERA in Single-A ball and posted an incredible 5.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Brice threw 14 innings in the big leagues for the Marlins last year without much success, but he did have a lot of success in the minors. He posted a 1.04 ERA in Triple-A and a 2.89 ERA in Double-A and allowed opposing batters to hit below .230 at both levels.
Miami will now hope that Straily works out as a solid piece in the rotation, but also that the prospects they gave up do not yet again become productive major league players.
The Marlins are no strangers to losing out on big trades in their history, but they have also made a number of smaller trades in the past few years that haven’t panned out. This most recent trade has the makings of another possible failure of a trade.
A recent day that comes to mind is Dec. 11, 2014, which is the day the Marlins pulled off two trades that both worked out better for the other teams involved. There was first the deal with the Dodgers in which the Marlins sent Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, Andrew Heaney, and Enrique Hernandez to Los Angeles for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, and Miguel Rojas.
All four players the Marlins sent to LA have appeared in the majors. Hatcher and Hernandez have been great pieces for the Dodgers, while Heaney was immediately traded to Los Angeles (Angels), where he has thrived as a starting pitcher. On the Marlins’ side, Gordon has had success but had a disappointing 2016, Haren is now retired, and Rojas is a mere defensive replacement.
The Marlins then traded starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and another minor-leaguer to the Reds for Mat Latos. Latos is no longer in Miami and has regressed since the trade, while DeSclafani has had two consecutive productive seasons with the Reds. The 26-year-old would be a centerpiece of the Marlins rotation if he were still in Miami.
Miami also made two other trades at the 2015 trade deadline that they arguably lost. The Marlins sent left-handed pitcher Grant Dayton to the Dodgers and right-handed pitcher Sam Dyson to the Rangers. Dayton was one of the best bullpen lefties down the stretch last season, and Dyson became the closer for a division-winner.
Chris Reed, who the Marlins received for Dayton, has struggled in the minors, and Tomas Telis and Cody Edge, who came to Miami in the Dyson deal, have had trouble breaking into the big leagues despite their talent.
If Miami’s bullpen still contained Dayton and Dyson, they likely would not have had to spend as much money on relief pitching this offseason.
Then of course there was the 2016 deadline deal that originally sent Castillo along with Carter Capps, Josh Naylor and Jarred Cosart to the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea. The Marlins eventually sent Rea back to San Diego and got Castillo back, but they still lost Capps and Cosart. Capps has an electric fastball and was called one of toughest relievers to hit by David Ortiz. Cosart is coming off of an arm injury but still projects to have success in the big leagues. Cashner, on the other hand, struggled in Miami and has since left in free agency.
None of these trades were truly necessary for Miami. They tried to go for it all last season, but the Marlins needed a better starter than Cashner, and they gave up too much for him. With an already-depleted farm system, the Marlins have now decided to ship away two of their most promising minor league pitchers.
Hopefully this Dan Straily trade works out, but if it doesn’t, the Marlins will be continuing down this path of poor trades. Miami’s winning window is slowly closing, and with all of these trades, they now have very little in the farm system to continue the success. If Miami doesn’t stop making rough trade after rough trade, the Marlins’ future will be in big trouble.