Every week throughout June and July, I will be presenting the framework for Marlins trades that could hypothetically happen right now. The article series kicked off with a 2-for-2 proposal involving the Diamondbacks, aimed at bolstering Miami’s infield with versatile veteran Eduardo Escobar.
Since then, however, the Marlins have lost all but one of their games and slipped into the NL East cellar. Two more starting rotation candidates sustained injuries and will miss substantial time as a result. A lot could change by the trade deadline, but it’s currently hard to picture them behaving like conventional “buyers” this summer.
After Major League Baseball experimented with the universal designated hitter during the shortened 2020 season, the Marlins were banking on it being renewed for 2021 and constructed their roster accordingly. The league office and players’ union were unable to strike a deal, unfortunately.
The Fish position player most severely impacted by those vanishing plate appearances has been Garrett Cooper. He has even used several of his virtual media availabilities this season to lament it.
Although the DH should be incorporated into the new MLB collective bargaining agreement which takes effect in 2022, the Marlins already have internal options to fill Cooper’s shoes. It’s been an uneven first half of the season for the 30-year-old, but there are American League teams that would appreciate his presence in their lineup ASAP. One particular fit comes to mind...
THE MARLINS GET...
The Marlins trudged through an 105-loss season in 2019, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they only received six picks in the subsequent MLB Draft for all their suffering. The Fish famously went with an all-pitcher class and the early returns have been outstanding. That being said, there’s no such thing as too much young talent for an organization eyeing “sustainable success.”
In Carson Tucker, the Marlins would be adding a seventh 2020 draftee, diversifying their talent pool with a position player. The Indians selected him with the 23rd overall pick. He has not made his official minor league debut yet.
Tucker is universally ranked among Cleveland’s top 20 prospects—he’s as high as No. 12 on MLB Pipeline’s list and as low as No. 19 from FanGraphs’ perspective. Evaluators note that his stock surged during his senior year at Mountain Pointe High School (AZ) as he demonstrated newfound power potential. He’s got plus speed and might actually stick at shortstop long term.
Since initiating their rebuild, the Marlins have been stymied by how so many of their toolsy position players lack the critical ability to put balls in play. Whether it’s been struggles with selectivity, pitch recognition or basic hand-eye coordination (or a combination of those factors), formerly highly touted prospects have failed to translate their offensive production to The Show. Tucker is seemingly a safer bet.
Scott Moss, 26, is a Florida native who five years into his professional career is ready to be tested at the highest level. In parts of two seasons with Triple-A Columbus (2019 and 2021), he has posted a 3.19 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with 40 K in 31.0 IP. Those are similar to his overall MiLB numbers across 92 pitching appearances (all starts).
MLB Pipeline is most bullish on Moss, ranking him No. 25 on their Cleveland prospects list:
Moss’ fastball sits in the low 90s and tops out at 94 mph, yet it plays as a solid pitch thanks to its riding action up in the strike zone and the extension in his delivery. His best secondary pitch is a low-80s changeup with sink that he sells with deceptive arm speed. His slider is less consistent, though he improved its shape and velocity (to the low 80s) in 2019.
The Marlins’ organizational pitching depth is rich with talent, but skews right-handed. The two lone lefties in their bullpen for much of 2021 have been Ross Detwiler and Richard Bleier, the two oldest players on the roster—who knows if they’ll be around next year.
As Ian Smith of Prospects Live explains, Moss doesn’t fit cleanly into the “starter” or “reliever” bucket. But for the foreseeable future, while Sixto Sánchez, Elieser Hernandez, Nick Neidert, Cody Poteet and others are sidelined with injuries, the Marlins would certainly have opportunities for him to audition. Beyond this season, the tall southpaw has two more minor league options remaining.
The Tribe signaled their apathy toward competitiveness last offseason by trading away Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco and barely participating in free agency. Nonetheless, they enter play on Tuesday with a 31-26 record, firmly in the AL Wild Card race thanks to disappointments like the Twins and Yankees. It’s not the year for them to “go all-in,” but they should be motivated to pursue modest upgrades when applicable.
Garrett Cooper has amassed 26 home runs and 100 runs batted in in 821 major league plate appearances, slashing a comfortably above-average .274/.340/.437 (112 wRC+). He’s got power to all fields and gives quality at-bats against both lefties and righties.
There are durability concerns with Cooper. A wrist injury kept him off the field for most of 2018 and his 2019 campaign was bookended by lower body issues. The Marlins have been reluctant to use him in the outfield and more than willing to sub him out during the later innings to tighten up their run prevention. Even when healthy, he lacks consistency. Age 30 is not especially old for a major leaguer, but Coop has an old man’s game.
The DH spot has been a carousel for Cleveland since Franmil Reyes went down with an abdominal strain. Cooper would be able to slide in there until Reyes returns. There’s also a glaring hole for the club to plug at first base. Their first basemen combined for one (total!) home run during the months of April and May. Including recent long balls from Yu Chang and Bobby Bradley, the position group’s slash line is still .184/.258/.279. Yes, you read that correctly.
If this trade was finalized today, Cooper would be owed $1.14 million for the rest of the season. He’ll be arbitration eligible again in 2022 and 2023.
Baseball Trade Values considers this a fair deal.
Cooper’s departure would clear the runway for hot-hitting prospect Jesús Sánchez to establish himself as the Marlins regular right fielder (much more about Sánchez on the Fish Stripes podcast).
I realize that Marlins fans reading this are more frustrated by Corey Dickerson and Adam Duvall than Cooper, but their higher salaries and poor performance have sapped their trade value. Contending teams do not want them right now. Perhaps having them split left field duties would help them draw appeal as productive platoon guys, though there’s no scenario where they’d bring back as much young talent as Cooper.
Marlins get Carson Tucker and Scott Moss. Indians get Garrett Cooper. Fair deal?
This poll is closed
Yes, fair deal!
Marlins say no
Indians say no
Both teams say no