The Red Sox and Marlins have been discussing trade scenarios, with recent reporting indicating the Sox have have some interest in veteran infielders Joey Wendle and Miguel Rojas. It seems that they have also discussed a much more significant trade as well, with the Fish attempting to acquire young first baseman Triston Casas, per a report from Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald.
Since Wendle and Rojas are both in their 30s and impending free agents, their trade value would be fairly modest. Casas, however, is turning 23 years old later this month, still has six remaining years of control and is generally considered one of the top 50 prospects in the game. If he were to be involved in any trade, it would surely go beyond a deal for Rojas or Wendle. The report from the Herald indicates Miami tried to pry Casas loose from Boston in discussions involving their starting pitchers.
There’s nothing to suggest that Boston is open to dealing Casas or ever gave serious consideration to the overtures coming from Miami. Still, it’s noteworthy that such a monumental deal has even been discussed. The Marlins have reportedly been trying to use their rotation surplus for a lineup boost for quite some time, but haven’t yet landed a deal to their liking. While ace Sandy Alcantara and top prospect Eury Pérez are reportedly off limits, the Fish seem to be willing to part with one of Pablo López, Jesús Luzardo, Trevor Rogers or Edward Cabrera in a trade that would give them an impact bat and targeted Casas to be that guy.
The 26th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Casas mashed his way up the minor league ladder and reached the majors last year at the age of 22. He struck out in 24.2 percent of his trips to the plate, which was a bit above league average, but he also walked 20 percent of the time and launched five home runs in just 27 games. His lopsided .197/.358/.408 slash line resulted in a 120 wRC+, indicating he was 20 percent better than league average. That’s a very small sample size, but he’s also hit extremely well in the minors. In 72 Triple-A games last year, he hit .273/.382/.481 for a wRC+ of 127.
Though it makes sense that the Marlins would be interested in an exciting young player like that, it also makes sense that the Sox would want to hold onto him. Boston acquired Eric Hosmer from the Padres at last year’s deadline but then were seemingly impressed enough by the debut of Casas that they released Hosmer in December. To suddenly pivot and include Casas in a trade would be quite shocking.
The Marlins are also potentially interested in Ceddanne Rafaela, another highly-touted Boston prospect but one further away from the majors. The 22-year-old infielder/outfielder reached Double-A in 2022 and should be ready for exposure to Triple-A this year. He’s generally not ranked as highly as Casas but still has some hype, with Baseball America currently considering him the #78 prospect in all of baseball and MLB Pipeline placing him in the #96 slot. However, Jackson and Mish report that the Marlins are prioritizing improving the 2023 team, making Rafaela less interesting to them than the MLB-ready Casas.
The general framework of a trade isn’t totally inconceivable, in the sense that the Sox could surely use the starting pitching that the Marlins have to offer. Chris Sale and James Paxton have hardly pitched in the past three years while recent signee Corey Kluber is about to turn 37 and has injury question marks of his own. Garrett Whitlock has worked well in relief but seems to be headed for a move to the rotation despite just nine career MLB starts to this point in his career. Nick Pivetta is arguably the most reliable member of the bunch but he’s never posted an ERA below 4.53. Adding some more insurance into that group would make sense but it seems the acquisition costs being discussed with Miami are steep.
Though the Marlins have enough starting pitching to interest the Red Sox and many other teams around the league, these talks perhaps give us some insight as to why a deal still hasn’t come to fruition, given their high asking price. With those talks yet to bear fruit, the club has been limited to free agency in their pursuit of upgrading an offense that produced an 88 wRC+ in 2022, good enough for 25th place in the league.
The club had known interest in José Abreu, with Jackson and Mish reporting they offered a two-year deal in the $40MM range. Instead, Abreu joined the Astros on a three-year deal with a similar salary, amounting to a $58.5MM guarantee. The Marlins then pivoted to Justin Turner and offered him a one-year deal worth $15MM. He instead joined the Red Sox on a deal that pays him $15MM in 2023 but also has a player option for 2024 that would push his guarantee to $21.7MM over two years. The Fish also reportedly offered Brandon Drury $19MM over two years but he ended up taking a slightly smaller $17MM deal with the Angels. It had been recently reported by Sam Blum and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that Drury grew up an Angels fan and also had a pre-existing relationship with Angels’ manager Phil Nevin from when Nevin was managing the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team that Drury was on in 2015 and 2016. After missing out on Abreu, Turner and Drury, the Marlins then got a deal done with Jean Segura.
While Segura is a solid addition, it seems the Marlins are still trying to complete a significant trade that will make an even larger impact on their lineup. It doesn’t seem likely that Casas will be the one, but it gives some sense of the type of impact player they have their eyes on. With about six weeks remaining until Spring Training, it will be very interesting to see what other players they pursue and if they can line up on a deal.