This will be the fourth installment of my 2021 midseason article series presenting the framework for Marlins trades that could hypothetically happen right now. Those last two words are key, because my ideas tend to age very quickly, but I swear, they made sense in the moment!
With the Marlins’ 2021 postseason aspirations rapidly slipping away, it’s necessary to consider deals centered around veteran players who are currently at the peak of their powers—they make far more sense on the roster of a contending team than they do for the Fish.
Let’s find a new home for Miami’s home run leader:
THE MARLINS GET...
South Florida native Zack Collins was the top draft pick (No. 10 overall) of the White Sox five years ago. Almost three years to the day of his signing, he made it to The Show.
Baseball America was bullish on Collins during his minor league development, ranking him 56th among all MLB prospects entering the 2017 season:
While Collins’ calling card will always be his offense, his defensive progress was exceptional his junior year, and he particularly impressed evaluators with his soft hands and framing technique. His footwork is what holds him back from being an average defender. Collins has a thick, muscle-filled lower half and isn’t nimble. Regardless of what kind of defensive player he ends up being, his offense will play. He has a rare combination of strength and bat speed, giving him plus power.
As a minor leaguer, Collins slashed .244/.385/.455 with 59 home runs in 362 MiLB games (134 wRC+). He was younger than the average age of his competition every step of the way. On the other side of the ball, however, opponents frequently tested his throwing ability and he was charged with passed balls about once per week.
Though still only 26, Collins’ early major league career has put a significant dent in his market value. FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference both approximate his contributions so far at slightly below replacement level (71 games played). He’s been striking out in one-third of his plate appearances and hasn’t homered since May 7. Baserunners are 23-for-26 on stolen base attempts and he’s struggling with pitch framing, too.
To call Collins a “reclamation project” would be hyperbole, but he could seemingly use a change of scenery. He’s unable to get steady playing time on a Sox team that is in win-now mode (44-30 record following Wednesday’s victory).
Collins’ potential fit on the Marlins is far smoother. As a left-handed batter, he could form a quasi-platoon with Jorge Alfaro, matching up with righties in his starts against whom he owns a respectable career 94 wRC+. With Alfaro getting the majority of playing time at catcher, Collins would still have opportunities to make an impact as a pinch-hitter. Even if Collins continues to be a defensive liability, the Marlins could enter 2022 with him in the mix for designated hitter reps (fingers crossed that MLB and the players’ union implement the universal DH as part of the new collective bargaining agreement).
Collins has one minor league option remaining. He began 2021 with less than one year of MLB service time, so his opportunity to test free agency won’t come until after the 2026 campaign (at the earliest).
THE WHITE SOX GET...
Adam Duvall has had a strange and entertaining half-season for the Marlins. Heading into Wednesday’s game, he is slashing .212/.259/.460 (98 wRC+) with a team-high 16 HR and a National League-high 52 RBI. He showed he could handle center field duties in an emergency during Starling Marte’s absence, and in right field, the 32-year-old has been surprisingly spectacular (especially with his arm).
Chicago’s outfield continues to be ravaged by injuries—Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Adam Eaton, Adam Engel and Billy Hamilton are all on the IL. Luis González, one of the few active major leaguers who I’ve never heard of, started in left for them on Wednesday. You may be surprised to read that the Sox are second-to-last in the American League with 71 total homers, only three more than the Marlins!
For what it’s worth, Duvall looked totally comfortable in the Windy City last weekend.
Duvall is earning an easily digestible $2 million salary this season, though he has a $7 million mutual option for 2022. He’s guaranteed a $3 million buyout if the club declines their side of it.
In León, Chicago lands a conventional backup catcher who brings substantial postseason experience. This is a family-friendly site, so I won’t post his 2021 hitting stats—needless to say, it has gone badly. The defensive production hasn’t been much better, but León’s track record makes it reasonable to bet on him being an upgrade over Collins in that department.
Right-hander Colton Hock, a 2017 draftee, is in the midst of an excellent season as Double-A Pensacola’s closer. He has a 1.27 ERA and 2.50 in 21.1 IP while allowing less than one baserunner per inning. His 10 saves are tied for the second-most in Minor League Baseball.
That being said, the 25-year-old’s pure stuff is not overwhelming and the current front office doesn’t have any personal investment in him. Considering all of the organization’s other young pitching talent, it’s difficult to imagine the Marlins adding Hock to their 40-man roster, so they risk losing him in this winter’s Rule 5 draft. Might as well throw him into this package to balance the equation.
Baseball Trade Values considers this a fair deal, but as a sweetener, I could imagine the Marlins including some cash by continuing to pay León’s salary (pro-rated $1.25 million) while the White Sox take responsibility for Collins’ league-minimum compensation.
What do you think?
Marlins get Zack Collins. White Sox get Adam Duvall, Sandy León and Colton Hock. Fair deal?
This poll is closed
Yes, fair deal!
Marlins say no
White Sox say no
Both teams say no