Best buddies for trades

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago, I wrote this post addressing early offseason needs for the Marlins before the 2022 season. This time the approach will be a bit different: instead of proposing specific players I'll rather consider teams with mutual interest in trading with the Marlins.

First, let's identify what the Fish need for next season. It is known that the Marlins' lineup ranked on the bottom 5 in almost all offensive categories: AVG (27th), OBP (27th), SLG (28th), OPS (27th), Runs (28th), HRs (24th), etc. Doesn't help either the fact that this team strikes out a lot (8th-highest K's) and barely takes BBs (27th). This year's GO/AO ranks T-6th, meaning they hit the ball to the ground way too often.

The bullpen is another area with room for improvement. This group ranks 22nd in ERA, 27th in WHIP, 25th in SV/SVO (only 57% Save Opportunities converted), also 25th in both BAA and BB/9. There is no overpowering stuff and the closer role was a complete enigma after Bender left early in the season due to injury. With the exception of Okert and Floro, the bullpen corps are not dependable, translated in so many blown saves and 1-run losses.

Taking into account that almost all areas are subject to improvement, names like Soler, García and Cooper will reappear in the lineup, barring injuries or unforseen trades. In order of urgence, here is what is required to be competitive:

1. Two solid, impactful bats, preferably playing CF, 3B/SS and/or 1B

2. A proven closer

3. A strikeout RHP reliever

4. A bat-first Catcher

Since this is and will continue to be a low budget team, roster needs are to be solved via trades. With so many holes in the lineup, this team has to negotiate with what they have some depth: Starting Pitching. The Marlins used 14 different pitchers in that role this year, but not all of them are trade chips. Nance, Bleier and Hoeing can be tagged as "openers"; Hernández's role is up in the air this offseason. Meyer and Poteet will not pitch next season. Both Neidert and Castano are depth pieces and won't get you much in return.

Six solid, dependable pieces for any rotation are left in the depth chart: Alcántara, López, Rogers, Luzardo, Cabrera and Garrett. Sandy isn't going anywhere (knock on wood). Rogers' trade value is at all-time low after a subpar season. Luzardo and Cabrera have some injury risk. Garrett missed some time on the IL, and even though he had a solid season, the potential return won't be as much as the last name on this short list: Pablo López. The Venezuelan had a career year and during the first two months of the season, he looked like the ace he can become. His trade value might have went down, but will still surpass Garrett's return nevertheless.

The Marlins have also a group of versatile players whom can be dealt away: Anderson, Wendle, Berti and Williams. There will be no room for all of them, especially if Rojas is moved into an utility role in the infield.

That said, there will be multiple teams willing to match Pablo's trading price after the World Series. An initial short list can look like: BAL, BOS, NYY, MIN, CWS, TEX, STL, CHC, SF, ARI, SD and LAD. From that list, teams best suited to trade for Pablo are:

6. Chicago Cubs: I think the Cardinals can be challenged next year if the Cubbies get more competitive. They do have promising arms coming up, but no pitcher started more than 25 games last year. A rotation with Stroman, López, Smyly, Steele and Hendricks can definitely create some concern over the division neighbors. The Fish can get players like Morel, Hoerner plus bullpen arms like Hughes, Thompson or Leiter.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers: They managed to run a six-man rotation throughout the year, but Anderson, Heaney, and Kershaw will become Free Agents. Walker Buehler had TJS in September so nothing for him next year. That leaves Urías, Gonsolin and May as the only starters in the roster this offseason. Bringing Pablo makes sense for multiple reasons including reducing the payroll; LAD can also play BA if Justin Turner is let go. Miami can use Edwin Rios, James Outman and one of the multiple bullpen arms they have (e.g., Phillips, Graterol, Almonte, Ferguson)

4. Boston Red Sox: Similar to the Dodgers, but with more urgency: The big market team finished last in their division. Eovaldi, Wacha and Hill will become free agents. Chris Sale and Paxton always injured. Their prospects are not attractive, but players like Duran, Casas, Hernández (Catcher) can be attractive for the Fish, or some bullpen arms like Schreiber, Houck or Whitlock will make a better bullpen. Boston can also use a 2B like Berti or Wendle if Bogaerts leaves this winter.

3. St. Louis Cardinals: Mikolas and Montgomery will be the only reliable starters heading the offseason. Waino's best days are in the past. Hudson, Pallante and Flaherty all struggled. Matz is injured and Hicks has as much potential as uncertainty. The Marlins can ask for Carlson, Donovan, Nootbar, or this guy Moises Gómez whom showed a lot of power in AAA.

2. Baltimore Orioles: If the Orioles trade for Pablo and get one front-end arm via Free Agency, that division will be nuts next year. Means will come back by early June, top prospect Rodriguez is ready. Mullins' potential replacement at CF Colton Cowser needs a bit more seasoning in Norfolk, but that can happen before the ASG. All has been said about a López-Mullins trade. The time is now, make it happen.

1. Arizona Diamondbacks: The fact that the Dodgers might experience some regression next year and SD will probably lose key pieces via FA (Bell, Manaea, Clevinger, Drury), creates the perfect storm for the Dbacks to jump in to get Pablo. The Gallen-Kelly-López tandem will challenge most of lineups and, most importantly, they have an enviable bottleneck in the OF with so many good players up and ready: Varsho, Carroll, McCarthy, Thomas and minor leaguer Fletcher can all play solid CF. The Dbacks have also two interesting near-ready prospects in Canzone and Barrosa. My personal favourite is McCarthy just because I can see it happening: Arizona will be reluctant to move Carroll, Varsho or Fletcher.

They desperately need a SS until Lawlar is ready, so moving Wendle or Berti will make even more sense for them. The snakes can also use some help behind the plate and it is not a huge problem if the Fish trade Stallings away to get a better bat.

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