Before launching into this article, I feel I should get this out of the way: There are a fair amount of Marlins fans who want everyone traded. Big contracts, controllable, productive; it matters not so long as anyone with value is turned by the magic of trade wizardy into prospects.
It’s an interesting sentiment coming from a fan base that has been burned so many times by the fire sale, to clamor for yet another. I can understand the frustration with this group being unable to get the job done (even taking into the account the critical loss of one Jose Fernandez), and I even find myself empathizing at times with the idea that we’ve seen the peak of what this particular Marlins team can do together and it’s just not going to be enough, ever.
What I cannot bring myself to understand is the desire to have everyone traded now, by this regime. What, in the team’s recent trade and prospect evaluation history, gives anyone confidence that the Marlins are going to get the most out of a JT Realmuto trade? Even they can’t miss, you say to yourself.
Though they’re unlikely to trade the perceived core, it hasn’t stopped the calls from coming in. It’s not to say that I don’t think they should listen; no one is untouchable given the right deal. All I’m saying is that I would strongly prefer that the new ownership group be given the chance to chart the course of the franchise’s immediate future and that they be the ones to make the call on the core, who are not going to lose their value in the interim. That’s it.
That out of the way, here’s who I think the Marlins can (and should) reasonably part with now:
The most obvious trade candidate, Ramos might be gone before this article even goes to print. Ramos is making $6.55 million dollars this season, a figure that is likely to go up via arbitration next year before he hits free agency at the end of 2018. With the glut of contenders looking for a reliable set-up man coupled with the fact that Ramos’ time with the team is winding down anyway, now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. He should fetch at least one good prospect, if not that plus another couple of intriguing pieces that are further away.
There is only room on this team for one set of initialed first-namers, and that honor belongs to the JT’s. Ellis being traded has begun to pick up steam; the Chicago Cubs in particular are looking for a reliable back-up after having jettisoned Miguel Montero earlier in the year. From the Marlins perspective, there is simply no reason to hold onto Ellis at this stage. Telis can easily take his spot for the remainder of the season and should find enough playing time given the injuries around the diamond to ease any concerns about him not getting enough AB’s. The return wont be anything special, but getting a return for Ellis is a win in and of itself.
There’s been surprisingly little talk regarding the 35-year-old McGowan, who has been a reliable (if unspectacular) piece in the Marlins pen for a couple of seasons now. This year, he boasts a 2.81 ERA/3.88 FIP over 51.1 innings pitched. I have to think that’s he’s simply flying under the radar, or perhaps the Marlins aren’t hearing what they want to hear in regard to a return for the former starting pitcher. In either case, they would be wise to aggressively market him to contenders, who he could legitimately help, and perhaps come away with a middling prospect in the process. They can always re-sign him again in the off-season.
Prado isn’t getting moved before the July 31st deadline, but he should be healthy enough to clear waivers before the August 31st deadline. The two teams that would mainly be vying for his services have filled their respective holes in one form or another, with the Yankees acquiring Todd Frazier from the White Sox and the Red Sox recently snagging Eduardo Nunez from the Giants. These acquisitions don’t preclude either team from getting Prado, but they do make it less likely.
With the clear emergence of Brian Anderson and Austin Dean, and the presence of reliable short-term pieces in Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas, Prado has become irrelevant. The Marlins doled out his three year, $40 million dollar deal at the end of last year because they valued his leadership in the clubhouse almost as much as they valued his on the field contributions. It’s important to remember the timing of that deal; it came almost immediately following the passing of Fernàndez, where everyone involved could use a bit of good news, and it served as such as the time (though even then, you can see that the reaction was mixed, and those who expressed their reservations may feel vindicated at this point). There might be other clubs who would be better served by Prado’s presence at this juncture. If the Marlins can find a fit, they should make it happen.
One of our newest writers very first pieces was an excellent article on the legitimate improvement exhibited by one Junichi Tazawa, who in his short time with the Marlins has become a favorite target of scorn amongst Fish fans. Tazawa is slated to make $7 million dollars next season and I’m certain the Marlins would love to have that money play elsewhere. Despite the ugly season numbers (4.97 ERA/5.42 FIP), Tazawa has shown signs of life lately and the Fish might be able convince someone to take a deep dive into the numbers and a portion of his contract, while they’re at it.