As others have noted today, the news that Giancarlo Stanton will miss four to six weeks with a broken hamate bone increases the likelihood that the Marlins will reach a conclusion that they might have reached anyway: 2015 doesn’t appear to be their year. Under owner Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have never been shy about change — they’ve traded players, replaced managers and changed organizational directions far more rapidly than other franchises might. Their 31-45 start already seemed likely to lead them to sell, even before Stanton’s injury.
In fact, this year’s Marlins team bears certain similarities to their 2012 club. The 2012 team headed into the offseason intending to make a splash. Instead, they flopped, and in July, they dealt Carlos Lee, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Hanley Ramirez, Randy Choate, Edward Mujica and Gaby Sanchez.
What do the 2015 Marlins have to sell, though? This year’s team doesn’t appear to be primed for a complete rebuild, and thus it doesn’t have many top-quality trade chips like Ramirez or Anibal Sanchez. The Marlins still have Stanton and Christian Yelich signed to long-term deals, and Jose Fernandez is cost-controlled and is clearly an elite pitcher when healthy. The Marlins seem highly likely to keep those players, even though Yelich is having a disappointing season and Fernandez is only on the verge of returning from Tommy John surgery. Here’s a look at who the Marlins could consider trading.
- Dan Haren and Mat Latos are eligible for free agency after the season, so they seem like obvious trade candidates. The question is what the Marlins will be able to get back. Haren is having a solid season, but he seemed mostly unwanted as of last winter, and his age (34) and stuff (Haren’s admirably self-effacing “Ithrow88” Twitter handle isn’t even accurate anymore, since his fastball has averaged 86 MPH this season) suggest he won’t fetch much now, either. Still, useful starting pitching is useful starting pitching, and the Marlins might try convincing a team in a homer-suppressing ballpark to give up a prospect or two for Haren. The Phillies got two fairly good lottery tickets in Victor Arano and Jesmuel Valentin for Roberto Hernandez last year — that might provide a good template, even though the stock of both players has slipped in 2015. The Marlins might also have to convince Haren to play for the team they trade him to if it’s not a West Coast team, given that he considered retiring last offseason rather than heading to Miami.
- Latos currently has a 5.49 ERA and missed time due to a knee injury, so his trade value would appear very limited. Since he would only be a rental, there would be little point in a contending team taking him on as a project, even though his peripherals suggest he should be somewhat better than that ERA. The curse of struggling teams trying to become deadline sellers is that they typically mostly have disappointing players to sell, and Latos is a case in point. It’s not impossible, though, that Latos could raise his trade value by pitching well over the next month.
- As the New York Post’s Joel Sherman pointed out today, Martin Prado‘s versatility could make him an interesting trade chip next month, since he can play third base, second base and both outfield corners. First, though, he’ll have to show he’s healthy — he’s currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. He’s owed $11MM both this year and next, although the Yankees are paying $3MM in each of those years.
- Pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand were both recently the subject of rumors. Koehler missed a start last week with neck and back pain, but his successful return today should help the Marlins’ cause if they choose to trade him. The problem is that neither Koehler nor Hand are the kinds of difference-makers most appealing to contenders — a contending team likely wouldn’t want either one of them starting a playoff game. And since they’re also cheap and capable of eating innings, they could have value to the Marlins as they retool. David Phelps, who has been solid but not outstanding in his first season in Miami, falls into the same category.
- Mike Dunn isn’t having a good season by traditional measures, with a 4.68 ERA, but his strikeout rate (9.0 K/9 in 2015) and velocity remain intact, so a contender might view him as a sneaky way to upgrade the left side of its bullpen, especially since his contract is reasonable. He’s signed through next season, though, so the Marlins could also decide the better route might be to keep him around for another year and hope he rebounds.
- Like Dunn, Steve Cishek has a poor ERA this year. Unlike Dunn, though, Cishek isn’t cheap, at $6.65MM, and his control issues are a key reason for his downturn in performance. It would likely be hard for the Marlins to deal Cishek without taking on salary, despite his closer pedigree.
- Infielder Jeff Baker is a career .297/.352/.513 hitter against lefties, so he could conceivably help a contender in need of a right-handed bat. He’s mostly limited to first base at this point, however, so his utility is limited.
Other Marlins veterans, like Michael Morse and Ichiro Suzuki, probably have even less trade value than most of the players mentioned above. The Marlins could, of course, make outside-the-box trades involving some of their better, younger players (Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Marcell Ozuna), and given the Marlins’ history, it would be unwise to discount that possibility. (Relievers A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps would make very interesting trade pieces if the Marlins were to make them available.) Unlike the 2012 team, though, the 2015 Marlins don’t have many veteran trade candidates who appear likely to command a significant return.