Does anybody else find it weird that the Marlins trade talks are the third most important subject in the news?
With the bidding wars in the sale of the Marlins franchise and the MLB All-Star festivities at Marlins park, the wide spread talks of an impending Marlins fire sale are seemingly being drowned out. President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill has suggested that controllable, younger players will be less likely to be dealt away.
However, that doesn’t mean the team won’t completely shy away from listening in on appealing offers. Several playoff races and a tight AL Wild Card have teams open to the idea of upgrading weaker positions in hopes of securing a playoff spot, leading to high demand for some of the Marlins players.
Though the number of teams inquiring about Marlins players has been high, it seems that the lead candidates for a potential trade are the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Brewers and Rockies. These teams have some of the better farm systems in the league, meaning it may be time to start reinforcing the under-talented minor league depths. So, what prospects could fall into the Marlins hands before July 31st deadline?
TL;DR: The Marlins are selling at the deadline, let’s explore the different possibilities.
Red Sox Plug Gaps With Phelps and Prado
Rumors about this trade package have been the strongest out of all the potential deals. A deal for Martin Prado and David Phelps makes sense for the Red Sox, with third base being a glaring hole and relief pitching always being a deadline priority for contenders. The two most likely won’t receive the most significant return, but one headline prospect that could make sense is first baseman Josh Ockimey.
The former 5th round draft pick has done nothing but produce at the plate since he first arrived in the minors, holding a 123 wRC+ through just over 1000 career plate appearances. He has also shown improved plate discipline while growing into his power. At 6’1” 215 pounds, Ockimey has below average athleticism that prevents him from being more versatile in the field. Most of his value comes from his batting profile, which he is still growing into. Despite being omitted from Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100, he is a fringe top 100 player and likely will land himself on those lists if he continues to improve. Why would the BoSox be willing to move Ockimey then?
With Mitch Moreland’s contract up at the end of the season, Boston is currently grooming 23 year old Sam Travis to be the every day first baseman for them moving forward. The front office sees Ockimey as being blocked by him and as an expendable player in their above average farm system. Although Justin Bour seems to be secured as the first baseman for the Marlins, Ockimey is 21 and still is a few years away from seeing the Major Leagues. A deal with Ockimey as the centerpiece would fill some of the much needed depth at first base since the departure of prospect Josh Naylor, and could potentially come with one or two lottery ticket prospects as well.
Yankees Gain Bullpen Depth with Ramos
It’s hard to believe the Yankees are priming for another World Series run less than one year after they were selling at the deadline. But, here we are. The Bronx Bombers are looking to plug several holes on their roster and the Marlins ought to be willing to help with how deep the Yanks farm system is. Corner infield rentals and pitching are a priority for them. Unfortunately, Bour is a long term asset and Prado is a lateral move for them with Chase Headley playing well. I expect the Yankees are looking to deal for a quality reliever, like A.J. Ramos.
Realistically, Ramos won’t be able to pull a top 100 prospect. His contract is fair and his numbers are solid, but the new-age Yankees are too smart to sell off their top prospects for rentals. One potential prospect that could fit the mold of this deal is 22 year old third baseman Miguel Andujar. The Dominican had his major league debut earlier this season after putting up strong numbers in the high minors. His impressive raw tools, mainly his arm and high power potential, make him well equipped to stay at third for the long term, though his offense may take time to fully develop. This would be perfect for a team like the Marlins who are in the process of a rebuild who can afford to give younger players consistent Major League exposure.
In order to dig deeper into the Yankees farm system, the Marlins would have to package Ramos. If the Yankees wanted to kill two bird with one stone and add to their starting pitching depth with somebody like Edinson Volquez, then perhaps other prospects become available in talks. Some of the stretch prospect targets would be players like shortstop Jorge Mateo, who is currently blocked by star prospect Gleyber Torress, or top pitching prospects Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams.
Struggling Cubs Starting Rotation Add Veteran Volquez
The Chicago Cubs are still trying to shake their World Series hangover. Their starting rotation that performed so well for them a year ago has become an upgrade priority if they hope to go wire to wire. Theo Epstein is known for prioritizing team chemistry, so adding a veteran like Edinson Volquez in addition to yesterday’s acquisition of Jose Quintana may fit into his plans. The 34 year old would add some much needed depth to a staff that has struggled to go deep into starts so far this year. In return, Cubs corner infield prospect Jeimer Candelario would be a top target for the Fish.
Candelario is looking for consistent playing time in the Major Leagues after showing strong offensive numbers in AAA over the past year and a half, flaunting a .228 ISO with above average walk rates to overshadow his average defense at third. In a similar situation with Andujar and the Yankees, the Cubs ought to be more willing to part ways with Candelario being blocked by Kris Bryant. With Candelario being towards the back of the BA Midseason Top 100, a year and a half of an affordable Volquez may be a fair asking price.
Brewers Pry Away Realmuto for Large Price
The surprising first half Brewers have shown no signs of slowing down heading into the deadline. However, unlike most other teams, the Crew seems to their sights on controllable players at the deadline. The departure of Jonathan Lucroy last year has left the club without long term catching option. If the Brewers are envious of the backstop stability they once had, they could try to land standout catcher J.T. Realmuto. The 26 year old has gotten progressively better each of the last three seasons and remains affordable heading into his arbitration years. Of course, Marlins GM Michael Hill and the rest of the front office may be more timid about trading away such a valuable asset, especially in the midst of an ownership transition, but the Brewers have a handful of interesting prospects that could tempt leadership to pull the trigger, specifically outfielder Corey Ray and LHP Josh Hader.
A first round product of last years draft, Corey Ray has had a slow start to his professional career. Injury setbacks and inconsistent play have held him back in the minors, though his tools are ready to shine at any moment. The already talented Brewers outfield, with recently called up prospect Lewis Brinson, are able to spare the depth a long term project like the 22 year old Ray. The package could also include a prospect like 23 year old Josh Hader, who has put up strong minor league numbers but is still looking for success in the Majors. The surprisingly solid Brewers pitching staff, led by the breakout of Jimmy Nelson, does not necessarily need the young lefty as depth, especially if the Marlins throw in a starting pitcher like Volquez or Dan Straily. A more “win now” mentality may call for an upgrade to their subpar bullpen with someone like David Phelps or A.J. Ramos, which could entice the Brewers to be more active in mortgaging more of their future.
Rockies Upgrade Left Field with Ozuna
With Ian Desmond’s offensive woes becoming a burden for a newly contending Rockies team, finding a replacement has been rumored to be a priority at the deadline. The Marlins have an opportunity to capitalize on the breakout season by Marcel Ozuna by selling high. With the Rockies deep farm system, top prospects like corner infielder Ryan McMahon and former 2016 top 5 pick Riley Pint could be on the table. A talent like Pint is hard to let go of, but the troubling start to his career in the low minors and apparent long journey ahead may not fit into a Rockies team that is looking to make the most out of their current core. If the Rockies are looking to push their chips in the middle of the table at the deadline, making a blockbuster deal for Ozuna to upgrade their middling offensive production would be one way to do it.
The Marlins are at a crossroads. Many of the decisions in the next few weeks will impact how the franchise will look for years to come. So, with the deadline just over two weeks away, who do you see staying in Miami? Going? Who would you guys like to see form the core of the Fish’s future? Feel free to share your thoughts below!