The Runner Sports

Fish Market: How Will The Miami Marlins Approach The Trade Deadline?

At the start of play on July 24th, the Miami Marlins have a 47-53 record and sit 8.5 out of first place in the National League East. On this date last year, the Fish were at 37-62, so they’ve shown significant improvement so far. Despite this marked improvement, the Marlins and their fans are disappointed with the current record given the hot start the team had. As recently as June 8th, the Marlins were in first place in the division and really giving fans hope that this year would be different. Since then though, the team has struggled in almost all aspects. On June 8th, many may have predicted the Marlins would be buyers at the trade deadline. After the recent rough patch, however, the team should be looking into improving future teams more so than this current one. While still within mathematical striking distance for a playoff spot, the team should realistically set its sights on a winning season being a success. Last year’s team lost 100 games, and this year’s team will not lose that many. That’s an improvement, sure. But that’s not good enough. Aside from a pair of offensive black holes in the middle infield, this year’s team is made up of a lot of talented players and simply winning a 63rd game should not be seen as a great success.

Given all of this, and assuming the Fish don’t make up significant ground in the last few days before the deadline, General Manager Dan Jennings and President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill should be looking into trading current assets for future ones. Seeing how this team was able to come together and play well for stretches, they shouldn’t trade for any prospects that are a few years away, rather guys who can contribute as early as next year. With most of this year’s team coming back next year and ace Jose Fernandez coming back around the All Star Break (ideally), next year’s team could have a chance to make some noise in the standings, given the right moves.

The San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers recently traded their closers, Huston Street and Joakim Soria respectively, and came out with solid prospects in return. The Marlins have arguably a more desirable product than either of those two in Steve Cishek, due mostly to his contract and amount of team control remaining. However, Cishek is young, effective, and relatively affordable, so he should only be traded if the return merits it. Another reliever who has drawn interest is lefty Mike Dunn, who won’t fetch nearly the return of the previously mentioned guys, but he could bring back someone who could potentially help the team next season. Third baseman Casey McGehee has drawn a lot of interest from teams, especially the Seattle Mariners, but the Marlins are reportedly more interested in extending him than trading him. With no one ready to man third base in the near future given Colin Moran’s slow development, a short-term extension for McGehee may be in the team’s best interest.

If the Marlins do decide to buy, whether it be a mix of buy/sell with Major League pieces or a pure buy with prospects, they need to target a controllable starting pitcher to shore up the rotation and a middle infielder to create some kind of positive impact. Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is following up the worst season by any baseball player in 2013 with another awful, negative WAR season. He is a liability on offense and has improved to become simply a wash on defense (0.0 dWAR). Second base has seen Derek Dietrich, Jeff Baker, Donovan Solano, Ed Lucas, and Jordany Valdespin all do essentially nothing. While Dietrich seems to have the most upside of the group, he’s still not a “second baseman of the future” type of player. Also, the fact that Dietrich hits left-handed combined with the fact that manager Mike Redmond has no idea how splits work means he will never play everyday. The team drafted a few middle infielders this year, but all of them are a few years away at best from being Major League ready. Aside from the newly drafted guys, there isn’t much in the Marlins system in terms of second basemen and shortstops. Avery Romero has looked promising, but he’s still in the low minors and a few years away. Other than middle infield, the team could use a solid starting pitcher to add to the rotation. No winning team can have guys like Jacob Turner and Brad Hand pitching every fifth day. Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi should be mainstays in the rotation for several years, and Tom Koehler has proven to be an effective 4th or 5th starter type. With Fernandez coming back next year, that leaves one spot in the rotation that needs to be filled. The Marlins have young pitchers like Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, and Andrew Heaney who should all be ready for the Major Leagues soon, but a veteran starter always helps a rotation at least in his ability to eat innings and save the bullpen. The Marlins will certainly not want to go after anyone who will become a free agent after this season, and so should look for an experienced starter who they can control for at least another season after this one.

Overall, the next few games will really determine how aggressively the Marlins will shop around on July 31st. A winning streak might make them aggressive buyers, another losing streak could make them aggressive sellers, and a solid but unspectacular few games (like the rest of the season) will likely have them selectively buying and selling based on offers made and extended. It has been a much more exciting and eventful season, and should be a much more exciting and eventful trade deadline than last year (Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for absolutely nobody). Rumors of the Marlins being interested in Jim Johnson and the fact that they somewhat recently signed Kevin Gregg and Brad Penny don’t bode well for the team’s talent evaluating skills, but maybe they’ll accidentally acquire a solid prospect who will help the team win next season.

Author: David Marcillo

David is an English teacher in Los Angeles who spends far too much time reading, thinking, and writing about baseball. He writes about real baseball here at The Runner Sports with a heavy Miami Marlins bias. He also writes about fake baseball and is in charge of the Closer Report over at Fantasy Pros.

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