The Marlins are known to be exploring the relief pitching market, and they’ve had internal discussions about both the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman and the Padres’ Fernando Rodney, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney (in his latest subscription-only column). It isn’t known if these discussions reflect genuine interest, as teams routinely go over many options in the leadup to the trade deadline.
There has been quite a bit of speculation about the Yankees trading at least one of Chapman, Andrew Miller or Dellin Betances should the team fall out of contention. Chapman is a free agent this winter and moving Miller would free up some payroll room, though the controllable Betances would probably bring back the biggest return of the trio. Some have argued that New York could deal from their uber-bullpen even if they’re still in the race, as they would still have a powerful end-game answer with just two of those excellent relievers, and trading the third would address needs in the rotation or lineup. Still, it’s rather hard to see a contending Yankees team breaking up their dominant relief trio given how the rest of their bullpen has been unimpressive.
It’s much more likely that the Padres would explore deals for Rodney, given how San Diego is currently in the NL West basement. Rodney has a microscopic 0.31 ERA through 28 2/3 innings, with 10.4 K/9 and a 2.75 K/BB rate. Obviously some good fortune is involved in Rodney’s near-perfect season (such as a .210 BABIP and a 92.6% strand rate) but he is still posting fine numbers even by ERA-indicator standards: 2.29 FIP, 3.22 xFIP, 3.04 SIERA. Rodney has generally been a good-to-great reliever since 2012 except for last season, when his early-season struggles led to a midseason release from the Mariners, though he regained some of his form against signing on with the Cubs late in the year.
The Marlins had some interest in Rodney last winter before he signed with the Padres, so it’s no surprise that they’re looking at him again in the wake of his successful year. It’s also not hard to believe that Miami is discussing Chapman, as any team in need of a bullpen upgrade would given his excellent track record.
With a thin farm system and a lack of interest in dealing Major League parts, the Marlins could offer to take on salary to facilitate a trade, though neither Chapman or Rodney represent a big payroll outlay. Chapman is owed approximately $5.75MM over the rest of the year while Rodney has only around $850K in base salary this year and at least $400K to buy out a $2MM club option for 2017 (though these numbers can rise rather significantly based on incentives). I’d guess it unlikely that Jeffrey Loria approves enough of a payroll boost to absorb one of several albatross contracts cluttering both the New York and San Diego rosters, so there might not a trade fit unless the Marlins have a prospect or two that the Yankees or Padres particularly like.