With so much buzz around the sale of the team and the potential for a big time trading extravaganza for the Marlins, it seems only prudent to analyze some of the teams that the Fish are most likely to do business with. Between now and the trade deadline, we will try to profile some of the most likely landing spots for current Marlins players and what the organization can hope to build around for the long term with a new owner...whoever it might be.
The Milwaukee Brewers are a competitive team in 2017, which seems bizarre because they were 73-89 and 30.5 games out of first place less than a calendar year ago. While Eric Thames dominated national headlines early on in the season, they have continued to show great promise and success as a whole organization. Their young GM, David “Slinging’” Stearns, has flipped a massive volume of trades since 2015 and seems to be consistently and microscopically tinkering with their starting roster. This last off season alone, they completed nineteen transactions utilizing the wire with five players claimed, four players lost, and ten more players out-righted off of the 40 man. Stearns has guided them through the “rebuilding” phase directly into competition for the NL Central division. They have a 4.5 game lead over the Chicago Cubs along with the fourth best farm system in all of baseball post-draft...sound nice, doesn’t it?
Overall, I don’t think the Brewers will target any of the main core, the B.O.Y.S.S (Bour, Ozuna, Yelich, Stanton, Straily), but I think there could be a realistic interest in most of the other players. That means Marlins like David Phelps, Martin Prado, AJ Ramos, and J.T. Realmuto could potentially be headed to the Cream City. In exchange for the aforementioned players, the Brewers have a stacked farm system to operate with. While the cream of their crop will go after the premium available players like Sonny Gray, they would still have the space to go after instrumental pieces that the Fish could provide. After being left out in the cold during the Jose Quintana trade, the Brewers have emerged as one of the most prominent buying teams this trading season. Even if a Quintana-esque trade occurred for Gray, the Brewers farm system would be able to absorb those losses with little to no damage.
Assuming that the Brewers top two prospects, outfielder Lewis Brinson and RHP Luis Ortiz, aren’t being dealt for any Marlins players outside of the B.O.Y.S.S, they still have three other top-100 prospects, outfielder Corey Ray, LHP Josh Hader, and SS/2B Isan Diaz, according to MLB.com. With the Brewers as definite buyers, who can we expect them to target from the Fish? According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Brewers are among the 1⁄3 of MLB teams interested in David Phelps. It should be noted that Phelps was one of the best relievers in all of baseball last season with a 2.28 ERA/2.80 FIP, an impressive 11.84 K/9 and almost 2.0 fWAR. This year he has been significantly more pedestrian with a 3.52 ERA/3.66 FIP, but with so many teams considering the reliever via hindsight the Brewers have a variety of options that could bring Phelps their way.
With Phelps, the Marlins could realistically consider Josh Hader or Isan Diaz with some creative front office work. Originally drafted by Baltimore in the 19th round in 2012, Hader was traded to the Astros the following year at the deadline in a deal for Bud Norris. The 2015 deadline saw him get moved again, going from Houston to Milwaukee in the deal that included Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. However, the 6’3” Hader finally established himself in fall league as one of the game's up-and-coming left-handed prospects. While Hader has struggled in the majors with a high walk rate, he has pitched 13 innings with Brewers and achieved a 0.69 ERA. Marlins pitching coach (and former Brewer) Juan Nieves could do wonders with the big 23-year-old lefty.
There are several teams interested in picking up Dee Gordon, and if that happens it could open up a multiple team trade option for Isan Diaz. The Diamondback picked up Diaz in 2014 with the 70th overall pick. He was then dealt to the Brewers in the package that sent Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner to Arizona. In his 2016 full-season debut, the then 20-year-old Diaz hit 20 homers to top the Midwest League, tied for third in RBIs (75) and finished fourth in slugging (.469). Milwaukee awarded him with their minor league player of the year award that season. With the Carolina Mudcats, Diaz has hit .235/.335/.339 and 8 stolen bases, and he has shown skills that could translate highly to the big leagues. The Marlins top-notch infield coach, Perry Hill, could help him develop to a true star on both sides of the ball. With 18 double plays turned, look for Diaz to become one of baseball’s impact infielders.
With the Brewers on a crash course with a deep post season run, look for the Marlins to provide some of their necessary gaps. In return, the Marlins could harvest some much needed prospect help.