By now, unless you’ve been frozen in carbonite or in some sort of coma (and if that was the case, welcome back, we’ve missed you!), you’ve likely heard that Giancarlo Stanton is probably going to be moved, even though his preference is to remain a Marlin.*
*By the way, isn’t that the most Marlins thing you’ve ever heard, the newly crowned MVP who WANTS to be in Miami is probably going to be traded anyway, because, you know, money.
What you may have heard less about are his teammates. Yes, Giancarlo has teammates. Pretty good ones too. Despite the end-of-season records in recent years, the Marlins have not simply been the Miami Stantons, receiving meaningful contributions from several of his comrades on the batter’s side of the ball.
Those guys are getting some love in the trade market too, though it’s hard to hear it above the jarring din of blaring STANTON sirens. I thought it high time we set aside an article to address some of these rumors.
The second baseman market this winter seems flush with possibility for teams in need, with Neil Walker available as a free agent and potentially Jason Kipnis, Brian Dozier, Cesar Hernandez, Ian Kinsler available via trade.
Dee Gordon is also thought to be on the market, and may be able to provide a spark on the basepaths for teams who have lineups replete with plodders, leading the majors with 60 stolen bases this past season. Of the aforementioned second basemen, only Dozier tallied a higher fWAR contribution (4.9 to Gordon’s 3.3) and is probably the best defender of the bunch.
Gordon is owed $38.9 million through the 2020 season and is an obvious candidate for departure given the team’s payroll goals (and the presence of players on the roster theoretically capable of replacing him).
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays are all thought to be in the market for a second baseman, with the Angels and Mets specifically mentioned as being in on Gordon to varying degrees.
Likelihood of trade: High.
Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna
Those other two Marlins outfielders are kinda good too. Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are thought to be among the players that Derek Jeter would prefer to keep, but there is no denying they would fetch a substantial prospect load (or, allow Jeter to shed a bad contract ala Wei-Yin Chen by pairing one or the other up with it).
Yelich is long thought to be on the verge of busting out in the power department, but even if he never does, he’s still a very valuable player who sprays the ball all over the field and is a solid outfielder with good foot speed. You couple that with his contract — which will only see him making $9.75 million next season, $12 million the following year and then $14 million after that (plus a 2022 option) — and teams will be stepping in line to talk to Jeter about him...if he’s available, of course.
Ozuna, meanwhile, just racked up some impressive hardware, taking home the coveted dual titles of Silver Slugger and Gold Glover. While Yelich could potentially become that all-around middle of the lineup bat, Ozuna is exactly that, his 37 home run, 124 RBI, 142 wRC+ literally overshadowed by the dude playing next to him in the field and the lineup. Arbitration estimates finally have him cracking the $10 million mark in salary for 2018, and any team lucky enough to have him in 2018 will also have him in 2019 as well before he finally gets to enter free agency on the verge of turning 29 years old.
The St. Louis Cardinals, in addition to being in on Stanton, are known to have interest in both Yelich and Ozuna. The Philadelphia Phillies have made inquiries about Yelich, Marcell Ozuna is said to have caught both the Red Sox and Washington Nationals eye, and, surprisingly, both outfielders are in play for the suddenly looking to spend Oakland Athletics.
Truth be told, I could probably list every team in baseball if both outfielders were truly available, but I suspect that Jeter wants to move some of the larger contracts before testing the waters with Ozuna and Yelich, so we might have to wait a little longer before seeing if anything will unfold with these two.
Likelihood of trade: Moderate.
While I don’t think there’s a question that the team wants to move Prado, given his contract ($28 million over his ages 34 and 35 seasons) and the existence of one Brian Anderson, the market for the veteran third baseman has been predictably slow to develop.
Hampered by leg injuries all last season, Prado only mustered 147 plate appearances and looked rusty for the majority of them, sporting an unusual (for him) .250/.279/.350 line. Nevertheless, there is a history of solid play here and the Marlins have to be banking on that still being relevant in the minds of the powers-that-be across the baseball world if they have any shot of moving him prior to the start of the 2018 season.
You can squint and see a fit with the San Francisco Giants or his old team, the Atlanta Braves, but realistically, the only way you move him now is by pairing him with a known asset, such as any of the Miami outfielders. Barring that, it seems more likely to me that Prado will open the season in a Miami uniform once again, though I do believe he will re-establish enough value in said season to be movable by the 2018 deadline.
Likelihood of trade: Moderate.
Dan Straily and JT Realmuto
There are a fair number of people out there, both pundits and fans, who believe that the only way the Marlins are going to build a sustainable winner is by trading off every asset they have, now, and using the prospect haul from that process to begin the organizational healing, so to speak.
In that vein, one could see the very team friendly battery of Dan Straily and JT Realmuto being moved. Both are under team control through the 2020 season and both are projected to make in the neighborhood of $4-5 million this season via arbitration raises. Straily continues to show that the adjustments he’s made on the mound are for real, and Realmuto has emerged as one of the game’s great young backstops (though the baseball world may not quite know it yet).
They were among the players thought to be among the group that Jeter wants to keep around, and with the dearth of quality starting pitching in the organization it might seem foolish to move your steadiest pitcher, but as with Yelich and Ozuna, the return in dealing them might be too high to ignore.
With the focus largely on Stanton thus far, there has been little buzz regarding these two so far; Straily was definitely getting some love around the trade deadline with multiple teams contacting the Marlins about his services. Not so much with Realmuto, who was then and continues to be considered off-hands. These things do change, though, and there will definitely be suitors should the Marlins ultimately opt to go the complete tear-down route and put this duo on the marketplace.
Likelihood of trade: Low.
While the Marlins would love to move Junichi Tazawa (5.96 ERA/4.96 FIP over 55.1 innings in 2017, $7 million dollar obligation in 2018), they’re far more likely to find traction with erstwhile closer Brad Ziegler. Ziegler struggled at times in 2017 but also had stretches of success, finishing the year with a 4.79 ERA/3.73 FIP and tallying 10 saves in the process.
There is enough evidence on hand to suggest, despite the sage baseball age of 38 years old, that the submariner is still effective out there, and he may be movable despite the $9 million he’s owed in 2018. The Cardinals, ever tied to the Marlins this fall, are thought to be interested.
Likelihood of trade: Moderate.