Fewer than five days to go until the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and the Marlins haven’t come close to finalizing any deals. That has been somewhat of a surprise considering how many desirable relievers they have made available to other teams.
In a new interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal published Thursday afternoon (subscription required), president of baseball operations Michael Hill explained how he sees his team in a powerful position.
“We will talk about our guys, but we are changing the narrative on and off the field,” Hill says. “If you want 3+ and 4+ years of control, it comes at a price.”
Without naming names, he’s referring to relievers Kyle Barraclough (3+), Adam Conley (3+) and Drew Steckenrider (5+). Each of them has been connected to contenders like the Dodgers, and for their part, the Marlins appear to be evaluating prospects from those teams’ systems. But negotiations remain very preliminary, according to multiple reports.
When pressed on the availability of superstar catcher J.T. Realmuto, Hill drew a clear distinction between the Jeffrey Loria era and how this new administration conducts business:
“The biggest message I want to emphasize is that things have changed in Miami. There is a plan and a commitment to building something sustainable.
“The industry and our market need to know that we like good players also and are trying to win and that (when a player is) making a little money does not mean we have to trade him.”
Realmuto leads all players at his position in Wins Above Replacement and has arbitration eligibility in 2019 and 2020. Increasingly, insiders seem convinced that the Marlins will approach him with a contract extension after the season before seriously entertaining trade offers.
“We have one of the top catchers in the game, and yes he could bring a king’s ransom,” Hill admits, “but his value to this franchise may be more.”
Although it’s refreshing to hear Hill talking tough, the Marlins farm system still ranks toward the middle of the pack in terms of depth, largely devoid of true high-end talent. They aren’t on pace for premium 2019 draft position (entering Thursday’s game with the eighth-worst record in the majors). So expect some trade activity aimed at acquiring more prospects.
Brad Ziegler and Cameron Maybin are the only pending free agents on the roster. Aside from them, Derek Dietrich’s bat should continue to draw interest. And maybe this public posturing compels another club to meet Hill’s asking price on those controllable relievers between now and July 31.