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Miami Marlins Trade Target: Curt Casali

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Casali would help the Marlins address their greatest weakness.

Miami Marlins v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I’ll get straight to the point. The Miami Marlins are in need of a catcher. It’s a weakness for the club even with Jorge Alfaro healthy, and he’s current on the IL (left hamstring strain).

In the meantime, Curt Casali is an affordable 8-year MLB veteran who is a solid receiver behind the plate. He made history and headlines recently catching five consecutive shutouts and is only the 5th catcher to accomplish such a feat since 1900.

Casali would be an immediate upgrade for the Fish.

The headlines as they were do not tell the full story of his 8 years in Major League Baseball. Casali was originally a 10th round draft pick out of Vanderbilt by the Tigers in 2011. Per SB Nation’s Bless You Boys, he was “a good defender who can control the running game, work a pitching staff, hit right handed, and has some power” and had the ceiling of “a fringy starter or above-average backup.”

Curt Casali has absolutely reached that ceiling, though he still has clear limitations as a hitter (career 92 OPS+). Those results haven’t been enough to either make him a starter or a highly valued back-up.

Curt Casali Career Batting Totals
Baseball-Reference

In San Francisco, his role is more like a stopgap until gifted prospect Joey Bart is ready to split time behind the plate Buster Posey in the near future. Posey is a potential free agent next offseason (if the Giants were to decline his pricey club option), but as an all-time great Giant, it’s hard to imagine him in any different uniform. In a reduced role, he can still help the Giants transition their roster to compete with the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego Padres who are arguably the best teams in MLB.

In all of that, Curt Casali does not at any point project to be a starter, and he knew that going into the season. In fact, he chose to sign with the Giants because of the opportunity to reunite and work with hitting coach Donnie Ecker. Hitting is on the forefront of Casali’s mind as he, at 32, looks to continue to develop his skillset and be the sort of catcher that earns eight figures in his career.

The Marlins have more available innings at catcher for Casali to audition for a long-term contract. Adding to the appeal, Miami seems to have developed an organizational competency in clutch hitting. Just look at the last couple of innings on Sunday.

Here is the moment Curt Casali’s shutout streak ended on a late-inning home run:

Then the next inning, Lewis Brinson, of all people, put together a solid at-bat off the bench:

Even without Donnie Ecker, the Marlins have something for Curt to learn that might help him refine his approach at the plate as well as the reps for him to practice it against live-pitching.

In return, Curt Casali and his skill set as an excellent veteran backstop would give Miami something it doesn’t have in 40-man catchers Chad Wallach, Sandy León and Jorge Alfaro. He would take the Marlins to a new height and give their core of young pitchers someone excellent to work with. Historically, his bat has been just as productive as Alfaro’s and far superior to Wallach’s and León’s.

At minimum, Casali would be someone for Alfaro to learn from and compete against throughout the second half of the campaign as both men vy for a role on the 2022 roster (like Alfaro, Casali is arbitration eligible next year). If neither of them perform at a satisfactory level, then Miami can turn to a prospect or look outside the organization.

Even with San Francisco off to an impressive 14-8 start to the season, that doesn’t change the reality that this is an organization in transition, looking to develop its core for the future to contend with the true Giants in their division. By the time Casali is eligible to be traded on June 16 (that restriction is in place because he signed as a free agent the previous winter), they figure to be closer to the NL West cellar than the division lead. He is far from untouchable—they might be inclined to trade him if they can extract some young talent from Miami and shed what remains of his $1.5 million contract.

Baseball Trade Values approximates Casali at $0.7 million in surplus value. That is comparable to Marlins right-hander Breidy Encarnación (prospects Jorge Guzman and Josh Roberson also have a median 0.7 BTV, but they are significantly older than Encarnación and less likely to mesh with the Giants’ window of contention).

Miami would improve immediately with Casali. They’d offer a playing time opportunity to a veteran player and the prospect exchange would not inconvenience the organization long-term.

It could be an awkward negotiation if the Giants defy the odds to remain relevant in the playoff picture. Nonetheless, they might as well offer it once Casali is trade-eligible.

Poll

C Curt Casali for RHP Breidy Encarnación...who says no?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Marlins say no
    (22 votes)
  • 27%
    Giants say no
    (22 votes)
  • 45%
    Fair deal
    (37 votes)
81 votes total Vote Now