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Which Marlins prospects are expendable?

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Having built one of baseball’s best farm systems while struggling at the major league level, Miami could deal from their strength again this winter.

Photo by Buck Davidson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys versus the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving Day highlighted a very important key to success in team sports. Before the game, ESPN analysts were arguing that Dallas may just have the best starting lineup in the entire league, even though their 53-man active roster is not the strongest top to bottom. Well, the Cowboys were embarrassed by the up-and-coming Bills on their home field while millions watched around the world.

Admittedly, this was just one game and I am not the biggest NFL fan (go Gators, though). But my point is that a team needs a complete roster in order to compete for championships. In other words, depth is key to success.

In baseball, it is often the team with the best 25-man—or even 40-man—roster that comes out on top, which is why the Marlins should still be focused on adding to their prospect pipeline at this stage of the rebuild. Despite a surplus of pitchers and outfielders in the system which the organization could look to deal in order to improve at the major league level, the Marlins should not feel comfortable completing any trades involving their most promising young players. Until prospects reach the majors, teams really don't know what they will have to build around in the future, but having strength by numbers will only prove to be a benefit moving forward.

For example, while 12 of MLB Pipeline’s current Top 30 Marlins prospects are pitchers. From Sixto Sánchez and Edward Cabrera to Humberto Mejia and Chris Mokma, it is impossible to predict who will become above-average major league contributors and who will peak in the minors. Sánchez and Cabrera appear to have the best chance at leading an MLB rotation based on their minor league dominance, but there are countless cases of pitching prospects not being able to adjust to major league hitters. Likewise, many pitchers find that extra gear and excel once they reach the big stage. Ideally, the Marlins need at least three of the 12 to develop into effective MLB starters alongside Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and Caleb Smith, and two or three more to turn into dependable relievers.

With depth, the Marlins increase their chances of finding the right pieces to the puzzle, and the same is true for their outfield prospects. Jerar Encarnacion was named the most likely Marlins prospect to be dealt this winter as he is ranked 17th in the system and lower than the likes of JJ Bleday, Jesús Sánchez and Monte Harrison. However, Encarnacion only just reached High-A for the first time and set career-highs in almost every significant offensive category in 2019, so who's to say that he doesn't have a future with the organization?

Arguing that Miami should be wary of dealing their prospects does not mean that they are all on the fast-track to stardom and are therefore untouchable, or that the team should not have confidence in the system that they have built. Prospects are unpredictable, which means that a team can never have too many options in their farm system. Options result in organizational depth, and the stronger the 40-man roster becomes the more likely that the team will be able to achieve sustained success.