The #Marlins are letting teams know that virtually everyone is available on trade market, and plenty of teams are calling.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 13, 2012
The Marlins are not in a good place right now. Their big manager hire went pear-shaped, doomed even before it began. Their first season in a divisive ballpark netted more empty seats and scratched heads than any noble homage to modern art deserves. The team went into sell mode at the trade deadline, moving two key pieces and the previous face of their franchise in July.
The Fish wasted little time this off-season, dumping Heath Bell and gaining a young, controllable infielder Yordi Cabrera in the Chris Young trade. Now the Marlins are, through the filter of USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale, making nearly everyone else on their roster available via trade. Back up the truck!
Slow down, now. Not everyone is on the block. The one piece that everyone would want, the Patron Saint of Getting Blanked Giancarlo Stanton, is going nowhere. Which leaves…what, exactly?
While he didn’t have no-trade protection written into his contract, Jose Reyes has the no-trade protection OF his contract. With five years and $96 million dollars remaining on the deal he signed last winter, Reyes wouldn’t net much as a potential trade chip.
Everything that made Mark Buehrle an attractive free agent option last season make him a worthy trade target, except the remaining money on his deal. The Marlins back-loaded both their key free agent acquisitions last winter, meaning most of the heavy lifting is still to come while the “value” phase of each deal closes quickly.
Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are the most likely suspects, as both players head to free agency at the end of the 2013 season. Josh Johnson was once an extension candidate but his inability to stay healthy coupled with the team’s desire to reduce payroll left that deal to die on the vine. Johnson did make 31 starts in 2012 after injury limited him to just nine in 2011.
Josh Johnson is very good when he’s on the field, one of only six pitchers to post a FIP under 3.00 since 2010. He piles up strikeouts and limits home runs, two great traits for any starter.
As a rental player, what might the Fish get in return for Johnson? A haul similar to Zack Greinke’s bounty or more along the lines of what the Marlins themselves received for the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante package?
The Marlins could always package Johnson with a more controllable asset like Logan Morrison or Emilo Bonafacio to sweeten the prospect haul. The Marlins demands for Johnson were reportedly massive this year at the trade deadline, a price that can only drop as the season starts and prospective suitors dwindle.
The Marlins are in a very weird place right now. They have a rare talent in Stanton, a peaking player who is locked up long term and a durable mid-rotation piece to help them win now but not much else. The starting pitchers received in the Tigers/Dodgers trades are question marks for the present.
There are only so many levers left to pull. The biggest talents in the minor league system remain far from contributing at the big league level. Most teams aren’t able to punt on two complete seasons but the normal rules do not apply to the Marlins. Free of the annoying encumbrances of a fanbase, the Marlins can treat their big league talent like chattel and load up for a big run in 2014. Or 2015. Whenever Stanton is about the leave as a free agent – then the Marlins will go for broke. It’s the Marlins way, after all.