July 2, 9:14pm: The Marlins are placing an “extremely high” ask on Barraclough, in particular, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Indeed, he hears that the Miami organization is “basically looking for another club’s top prospect, or among their top prospects” in any swap involving the young hurler. The report suggests that Conley is the “most realistic” candidate to be moved among the three hurlers discussed below.
Unsurprisingly, multiple teams are poking around on the Marlins’ relievers. The Indians are among the contenders with some interest, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter).
1:22pm: The Red Sox have also been in contact with the Marlins about their late-inning relievers, Morosi writes today. While Boston is set to at last welcome Tyler Thornburg to its bullpen, the team is nonetheless exploring contingency options, per the report. More generally, it stands to reason that the majority of contenders will at least explore the possibility of adding an arm such as Barraclough, Steckenrider or (to a lesser extent, given the shorter track record in the ’pen) Conley.
Any from that group would be an upgrade over virtually any team’s seventh- or eighth-best reliever at the very least, and deep bullpens are paramount to success in postseason play.
July 1: The Dodgers have “had preliminary dialogue” with the Marlins about some of Miami’s top bullpen arms, says Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com. That list of relievers includes Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley.
While Morosi’s sources have been careful to note that no deal is close at this time, there’s certainly a good fit between the two clubs. The Dodgers’ bullpen actually ranks fourth in MLB with a combined WPA of 26.06, but has recently seen Tony Cingrani, Pedro Baez and Josh Fields hit the disabled list (as Morosi himself notes).The bridge to closer Kenley Jansen appears particularly weak, with Erik Goeddel and Scott Alexander currently working in setup roles. The Dodgers are certainly contenders for the NL Pennant, sitting just 3.5 games back of the division-leading Diamondbacks. And of course, the Marlins aren’t serious competitors for a spot in the playoffs this season.
There’s certainly no rush for the Marlins to trade any of the above players, as all three have yet to even qualify for arbitration eligibility. Conley and Barraclough will remain under club control through 2021, while Steckenrider is controllable for another two seasons beyond that. At the same time, though, the Marlins aren’t seen as likely to do much winning over the next three or four years; they’re mired in a full teardown that began this offseason with trades of Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna. Trading Barraclough and Conley in particular could make a lot of sense if they’re able to net some young talent who could contribute during their next contending season.
Of the aforementioned hurlers, Barraclough seems likely to bring back the most hefty return. The righty has been a revelation this season, pitching to a sub-1.00 ERA with a typically high 4.21 BB/9 and a K/9 of 9.66. Since stepping into the closer role for the Marlins earlier this year, he’s converted all seven save opportunities and has yet to allow a run. Barraclough (along with Steckenrider) has already been connected to the Indians this offseason.
For what it’s worth, the Dodgers have one of the best farm systems in baseball, with MLB.com ranking them tenth out of 30 MLB teams. While it seems unlikely that they’d part with top prospects Alex Verdugo or Keibert Ruiz in a trade for one of the aforementioned Marlins arms, it’s worth noting that elite prospects have changed hands in recent years when a top-flight reliever becomes available, and the sheer amount of team control left on the contracts of Barraclough, Steckenrider and Conley could prove an enticing reason to consider all possible angles.