The Marlins have received multiple trade inquiries on free-agents-to-be Mat Latos and Dan Haren, as well as controllable young pitchers Tom Koehler and Brad Hand, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Morosi notes, with the return of Jose Fernandez looming, the team could potentially afford to part with a starting pitcher. (Hand, a lefty, is currently in the bullpen but has started at the Major League level previously.)
Fernandez will join Latos, Haren, Koehler and one of Justin Nicolino or Jose Urena in the current rotation, though the team also has other options. As noted, Hand is capable of starting, and the Marlins currently have Opening Day rotation member Jarred Cosart in the bullpen. Henderson Alvarez, projected to be one of Miami’s best starters, is on the mend from inflammation in his shoulder, and swingman David Phelps could step into the rotation if needed as well.
A previous report from MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro indicated that the Marlins have at least discussed both Koehler and Hand with an unknown team. Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, has previously heard that Haren is very unlikely to be traded, although that certainly doesn’t preclude teams from calling and inquiring on the veteran right-hander.
Latos, in my eyes, makes some sense as a trade candidate. He’s looked better since returning from his most recent start on the disabled list. While his 4.12 ERA in three pot-DL starts isn’t particularly exciting, his increase in velocity since activation certainly is. Latos dealt with diminished velocity in 2014 and early in 2015, but since coming off the DL, he’s averaged 92-93 mph on his heater as opposed the the 90-91 he showed when his velocity was down. In 19 2/3 innings since his return, Latos has struck out 20 hitters — a significantly better rate than the 7.6 K/9 he averaged prior to his most recent DL stint. It’s a small sample, to be sure, but it’s a source of optimism in what’s been a difficult season for Latos.
From the Marlins’ point of view, if they hang onto Latos for the season and he performs reasonably well, they’ll be in a tough spot in deciding whether or not to make a qualifying offer. The value of a QO could jump to more than $17MM this winter, in which case Latos would be far too pricey an asset for the club. As such, trading Latos and the remaining $5.03MM (as of today) on his salary likely holds some appeal. With another few weeks of improved velocity and results, Latos could become a desirable enough trade chip to outweigh the potential value that Miami would receive from a QO anyhow.
Koehler, 29, is controllable through the 2018 season and will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter. He sports a lifetime 4.03 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate. His 3.66 ERA is better than in recent seasons, but xFIP and SIERA view him as more or less the same pitcher, pegging him in the low-4.00 range. Koehler’s proven himself to be a durable arm, never having spent time on the DL and pitching 191 innings in 2014.
The 25-year-old Hand is struggling more in 2015 with a 5.95 ERA, but he’s controllable through the 2019 season. Hand is having somewhat of the opposite season that Koehler is, from a statistical standpoint. Despite the high ERA, xFIP and SIERA peg him at 3.77 and 3.85, respectively, thanks in large part to a rebound in his strikeout rate and improved control. As a controllable lefty with velocity that sits around 93 mph, it’s not hard to see why some clubs would have interest.
Haren, of course, has had a nice season for Miami after quite a bit of seemingly overblown talk surrounding his possible retirement this offseason. He’s notched a 3.38 ERA with his typically stellar command (1.7 BB/9), and he’ll be a free agent season’s end. The Dodgers are paying the entirety of Haren’s $10MM salary this season, making him a very appealing chip, though as previously noted, reports have said he won’t be moved. That line of thinking may change as the trade deadline nears, of course. Interestingly, his former team (who is already picking up the tab on Haren anyway) is on the hunt for reliable rotation arms.
Whether or not the Marlins become serious sellers isn’t known, as GM-turned-manager Dan Jennnings has told reporters recently that the team still plans to try to content. Of course, the loss of Giancarlo Stanton for four to six weeks due to a broken hamate bone in his hand further dampen’s Miami’s chances to climb out of a substantial hole in the NL East.
The Marlins, of course, have possible trade chips beyond just the pitchers listed here. MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently examined the club’s trade chips at greater length.