The main objective for any MLB team during Spring Training? Avoiding significant injuries. So far, so good for the Marlins, who have several players with aches and pains—Jorge Alfaro (oblique), Jeff Brigham (biceps), Ryan Cook (toe), Ryne Stanek (back)—but nothing truly debilitating.
Beyond that, you want to see competition. That’s what has been propelling the Fish to one of the Grapefruit League’s best records in 2020 (somebody new stepping up every day). Specifically, they are getting impressive outings from under-the-radar relievers. Non-roster invitees like Brad Boxberger, Aaron Northcraft and Alex Vesia have had convincing auditions. Problem is, there are no openings for them on the Miami 40-man roster.
That leads us to José Ureña. The career-long Marlin is an awkward fit given the trajectory of this rebuild. He can enter free agency after the 2021 season, just as the franchise’s realistic window to contend for playoff berths will be prying open. Before we even reach that point, the two-time Opening Day starter is destined to be leapfrogged on the depth chart by the next wave of mighty rotation candidates who are currently finalizing their development in the high minors.
The most likely scenario? The Marlins retain Ureña as a stopgap for the next several months until the likes of Nick Neidert, Sixto Sánchez and Edward Cabrera force their way to The Show. The most fun scenario? They get whatever they can for him now from one of the teams that’s scrambling for a veteran starter, freeing a precious 40-man spot while continuing to add talent to this already-elite farm system.
I say let’s try the fun route. Here are some plausible landing spots.
Boston Red Sox
The projected Red Sox starting rotation was quite good one month ago, but since then, they officially moved former Cy Young award winner David Price in a quasi salary dump and lost perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale to a flexor strain for an undetermined amount of time. Veteran right-hander Collin McHugh, who signed last week to help fill the void, will open the 2020 season on the injured list.
These teams linked up on the Austin Brice-Angeudis Santos swap over the winter, not to mention several others in recent years when new Boston executive Chaim Bloom was still in the Rays front office. That relationship should help expedite negotiations with Opening Day barely two weeks away.
Coming off an injury-riddled 2019 season, Baldwin has more offensive potential than most backstops in the Marlins system. The Cuban-born Padron-Artilles posted a 30% strikeout rate during his first full professional campaign.
Justin Verlander: “I would say it would probably take a miracle for me to be back by Opening Day.”— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) March 9, 2020
The Astros are already poised to be the most despised team in Major League Baseball in 2020. Might as well fully lean into it! With so many opportunities to retaliate against intentional bean balls, Ureña can aim to “improve” upon his career high of 14 hit by pitches.
Houston hardly did anything to account for Gerrit Cole’s departure in free agency. They’re leaning on the phenomenal but elderly pairing of Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander (the latter of whom is hurt), the nasty but fragile Lance McCullers Jr. and a bunch of arms with minimal major league experience.
Given their luxury-tax concerns and 40-man roster crunch, Ureña’s fit with the Astros isn’t as clean as it would be with the other teams in this article.
The Trade: Astros get RHP José Ureña; Marlins get RHP Jairo López
We’ve seen the Fish roll the dice on undersized hurlers with advanced pitchability, such as Sixto Sánchez and Jordan Yamamoto. The 19-year-old López has fewer than 100 career innings under his belt, so he’s (at least) a couple seasons away from making a big league impact.
Los Angeles Angels
Throughout the last decade, seemingly every promising Angels pitcher has been derailed by elbow injuries. The latest victim: Griffin Canning. The former second-round draft pick won’t even be evaluated by team doctors until the end of March after recently feeling right elbow discomfort.
There’s nothing in Ureña’s history to suggest that he’d be vulnerable to this unfortunate trend. Plus, his arrival would shift Matt Andriese to the bullpen where he posted strong peripherals in 2019.
I proposed this in January and still stand by it. Even with an intriguing ceiling and having just turned 20 years old, Maitan is fairly expendable to an Angels team that has the urgency to win now and Anthony Rendon locked in long term at third base.
New York Yankees
The #Yankees have not engaged with any team in trade talks yet for a starting pitcher but certainly have their scouts on the prowl for a starter.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 5, 2020
The Yankees have a knack for turning your garbage into useful depth. Their player development prowess fueled them to 103 wins last season despite injuries that would have overwhelmed any other club.
It’s only March, but dynamic right-hander Luis Severino has succumbed to Tommy John surgery and their lineup’s upside won’t be as high as hoped early in 2020 with both Aaron Judge (rib) and Giancarlo Stanton (calf) on the IL.
To keep a significant edge over their competition in the ultimate “World Series or bust” season, the Yanks know they’ll need to add. So why not make a call to their favorite NL trade partner?
Shifting away from lottery tickets, this is a more conservative approach, focusing on a pair of depth pieces who could find their way onto the active roster by the end of the year depending on how top prospects progress. Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo is very familiar with both Park and Gittens from his tenure in the Yankees organization.
Which José Ureña trade proposal do you like the best?
This poll is closed
None of them—it would take better package to consider trading him