While the Marlins have played better of late, they face an uphill climb just to get to within striking distance of postseason contention. The signs point to moving some veteran assets, but there’s also a significant complication. As ownership continues to explore a sale of the team, it’s unclear how that process could bear on the decisions at the trade deadline. One thing is for certain: Adeiny Hechavarria looks to be on the way out the door in the next day or so, with the Rays standing as the rumored front-runner to acquire his services. That move is reportedly driven by an ownership push to clear his salary, so perhaps Jeffrey Loria will continue to shed payroll in the weeks to come.
Here are the Miami players who’ll likely draw some trade consideration:
Dustin McGowan, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $1.75MM
The 35-year-old McGowan has revived his career with the Marlins over the past two seasons, tossing a combined 107 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.2 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate of nearly 53 percent. McGowan’s velocity is down this season, but his control has improved as well. A team in need of middle relief help wouldn’t have to part with much to pick him up.
A.J. Ellis, C | Salary: $2.5MM
Ellis hasn’t played much this year, totaling just 63 plate appearances, and in that time he’s batted .200 with a .290 OBP and no extra-base hits. Barring a revival of some sort at the dish, which will be difficult with such limited playing time, he’s unlikely to generate much interest.
Controlled Through 2018
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS | Salary: $4.35MM, arb-eligible 2018
As previously noted, Hechavarria seems decidedly likely to move in the next day or so. The Marlins reportedly are hoping to move him before Tuesday’s series opener, when he’d have to be activated from the DL and would force a corresponding roster move. The Rays and Padres are among the teams currently linked to him, but Hechavarria’s salary and lack of offense should limit the return.
Edinson Volquez, RHP (starter) | Salary: $9MM in 2017, $13MM in 2018
After a terrible start to the season, Volquez has turned it on. His turnaround was highlighted by a June 3 no-hitter against a stacked Diamondbacks lineup, but Volquez was pitching fairly well even before that outing. He’s posted a 3.86 ERA with a 44-to-27 K/BB ratio across his past nine starts, spanning 54 2/3 innings. Volquez is an innings-eater at worst and a slightly above-average starter at best, and his contract, while not a bargain, isn’t outlandish.
David Phelps, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $4.6MM in 2017, arb-eligible 2018
The 30-year-old Phelps broke out as a dominant late-inning weapon for the Marlins in 2016, and while he hasn’t been quite as good in 2017, he’s still a highly desirable bullpen piece. Through 34 innings this season, he’s posted a 3.65 ERA with 9.2 K/9 against an improved 3.4 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate. And dating back to last season, Phelps has a 2.69 ERA in 123 2/3 innings. Phelps has experience as a starter, including five starts in 2016, so he can definitely handle a multi-inning role. Some teams may even have interest in trying him in the rotation once again.
Tom Koehler, RHP (starter) | Salary: $5.75MM, arb-eligible 2018
The Marlins have reportedly been open to trading Koehler for roughly a month. The righty is currently in Triple-A after a brutal start to the season (7.28 ERA in 38 1/3 innings), and he’s allowed just two runs with a 22-to-5 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings there. Koehler, 30, is hardly teeming with upside, but from 2013-16 he logged a perfectly respectable 4.14 ERA with 6.8 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9. His 2017 performance has probably torpedoed his modest trade value, but Koehler has a fourth starter’s track record and wouldn’t require any notable young talent to acquire.
Brad Ziegler, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $7MM in 2017, $9MM in 2018
Miami’s highest-profile bullpen addition of the offseason, Ziegler has been surprisingly ineffective in 2017 and is currently on the disabled list with a back injury. Ziegler’s ground-ball rate remains elite, and he’s inducing more pop-ups in 2017 as well. But, his strikeout and walk rates have both gone in the wrong direction, and his combination of salary and injury makes it difficult to envision a move at this juncture.
AJ Ramos, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $6.55MM in 2017, arb-eligible 2018
The Marlins’ closer since 2015, Ramos routinely posts gaudy strikeout totals with questionable control. That’s truer than ever in 2017, as he’s currently sporting a career-high 12.2 K/9 against a lackluster 4.9 BB/9. The 30-year-old’s strikeout rate and reasonable salary should create some trade value if Miami looks to move him, though it’s interesting that the Nationals, perhaps baseball’s most bullpen-needy contender, reportedly don’t have all that much interest.
Junichi Tazawa, RHP (reliever) | Salary: $5MM in 2017, $7MM in 2018
Like Ziegler, Tazawa inked a two-year deal in Miami as a free agent this winter but has been a bust to this point in the season. Tazawa’s 6.88 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 and 27.5 percent ground-ball rates are all career-worsts. Right now, he looks more like a DFA candidate than a trade candidate, though he did just return from a month-long stint on the DL, so perhaps he can get back on track now that he’s been deemed healthier. Those numbers, after all, come in a sample of just 17 innings, so it won’t take too long for Tazawa to turn the tide.
Jeff Locke, LHP (starter/reliever) | Salary: $3.025MM, arb-eligible 2018
Non-tendered by the Pirates this past winter, Locke signed a one-year deal with the Fish and missed the first two months of the year with tendinitis in his biceps. He’s healthy now but hasn’t looked much better than he did prior to this offseason’s non-tender. Through 23 2/3 innings, Locke has a 20-to-9 K/BB ratio with an improved 53.8 percent ground-ball rate. He does have a history of serviceable work as a fifth starter and can probably be had for little more than salary relief.
Controlled Through 2019
Marcell Ozuna, OF | Salary: $3.5MM in 2017, arb-eligible through 2019
Ozuna may be the best combination of trade value and actual plausibility of a trade. Ozuna has just two years of control left and a price tag that should soar in arbitration thanks to a career year in ’17, so the Marlins may look to cash in and acquire a haul in return for his bat this summer. Through 74 games/316 plate appearances, Ozuna has hit .319/.383/.575 with 20 homers and 13 doubles. He’s already just three big flies short of his career-high and looks like a virtual lock to clear 30 homers this year. On top of that, Ozuna is capable of playing center field and has played considerably above-average defense in left field thus far in 2017 (+5 Defensive Runs Saved, +4.4 Ultimate Zone Rating). If he’s moved this summer, the Marlins would likely be selling near his peak value.
Martin Prado, 3B | $11.5MM in 2017, $28.5MM through 2019
Re-signed prior to hitting the open market last year, Prado has missed time this season with a pair of hamstring injuries. He’s batted just .278/.301/.392 in 83 plate appearances even when healthy, the Marlins are known to love his clubhouse presence, and his remaining salary looks untradeable at the moment. All of that is to say, Prado seems likely to stay in Miami for now.
Tyler Moore, 1B/OF | $1MM in 2017, arb-eligible through 2019
Moore has belted six homers in a tiny sample of 81 plate appearances while posting an overall .263/.284/.566 batting line. The Marlins picked him up on a minor league deal this winter, and he’s already cleared waivers once. Moore is the type of asset that is routinely flipped for cash or a player to be named later, and he could potentially help another team’s bench in 2017.
Stanton may find his way into some trade rumors this summer, but the reality is that he’s still guaranteed a total of $295MM through the 2027 season and can opt out of his contract following the 2020 campaign. It’s exceptionally difficult to imagine any club taking that contract on, and even if the Marlins find a team that’s interested (and/or if they agree to pay down a huge portion of the deal), Stanton has a full no-trade clause as well. If the Marlins sell, there will be tons of speculation, but Stanton is likely staying put.
Yelich, on the other hand, doesn’t have a no-trade clause but would come with an enormous price tag in a trade a cost-controlled young star on an affordable deal. His offense is down in 2017, but he’s still drawing walks and is actually striking out less than in recent years. Yelich has spent his whole career playing his home games in a pitcher-friendly environment yet still owns a lifetime .289/.366/.424 triple slash in the Majors, to say nothing of quality baserunning skills and excellent left field defense (though he’s playing center in 2017). Yelich is still just 25 years old and is owed $44.5MM from 2018-2021, and his contract has an option for the 2022 season as well.
Gordon, meanwhile, isn’t producing as he did in 2015, though he’s still a nightmare for opposing pitchers on the basepaths and an above-average defender at second base. He’ll earn $38MM from 2018-20 and has an option for the 2021 season, though teams will undoubtedly be a bit wary of Gordon following last year’s PED suspension.
As was the case for the Reds in 2017, Straily has beaten expectations and proven to be a bright spot in the rotation. He boasts a 3.43 ERA with career-best K/9 (9.2) and BB/9 (2.9) rates in addition to a 38.1 percent ground-ball rate. Straily is still controlled through 2020, and though his .259 BABIP looks like it’s due for regression, it’s actually right in line with his career .255 mark. He’s likely improved his trade stock in Miami, and he’ll be arb-eligible for just the first time this winter.
It’s tough to see the Marlins having much interest in moving either Realmuto or Bour, both of whom are healthy, playing terrifically, and are controlled through the 2020 season. Each will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and should maintain an affordable salary. Barraclough is a bit easier to envision simply due to his control issues and the volatile nature of relievers, but he’s controlled through 2021 and has posted some of baseball’s best strikeout numbers since debuting in 2015.
Dietrich was an above-average bat (.261/.355/.427) without much defensive value from 2014-16, but now he’s not hitting, either. As such, it’s difficult to envision him garnering much interest, though maybe a team in need of a bench piece would be intrigued by his track record and look to buy low. Chen, meanwhile, is completely immovable due to the $52MM remaining on his deal from 2018-20 and a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament that might not allow him to pitch again this season. Conley has pitched to a 7.53 ERA in the Majors this year and a similarly troublesome 6.42 mark in Triple-A. He’s still in his pre-arbitration years, so Miami wouldn’t get any cost savings from dealing him.