Following the in-season trades of a handful of veterans, the Miami Marlins continued the organization’s rebuilding effort this offseason with some key trades. Here are four trade ideas to help them proceed with the rebuild.
After trading away Adeiny Hechavarria, David Phelps, AJ Ramos, Tom Koehler in the regular season, Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich followed the group out the exit door via trade.
It’s entirely possible that the Marlins aren’t anywhere close to being done.
The likes of Lewis Brinson, Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Jorge Guzman, Isan Diaz and Monte Harrison provide a nice influx of talent to a previously barren farm system, but is in no way the end of the overhaul.
While Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich where undoubtedly the franchise’s best trade chips, there’s still plenty of players remaining on the roster who could help expedite the rebuild by being traded for more prospects.
This is all speculative mind you, but here are five trade ideas for the Miami Marlins as they continue their rebuilding effort.
Trade Idea #1: Colorado adds another impact position player, Miami snags a potential frontline starter
Miami Marlins receive: Starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela, first baseman/outfielder Jordan Patterson and catcher Tom Murphy
Colorado Rockies receive: catcher J.T. Realmuto
At first blush, Colorado might not jump out as the most obvious landing spot for Realmuto, but the fit is there.
As of late, catcher has been a perpetual position of need for the Rockies.
Despite a half season of Jonathan Lucroy in 2017, the Rockies rank 21st in fWAR among all catchers since the start of the 2016 campaign.
With Lucroy still a free agent, Colorado has seemingly brought in a replacement in Chris Iannetta.
While Iannetta mashed 17 home runs to go along with a .257 ISO and a 2.2 fWAR in only 316 plate appearances for Arizona last season, he’s 34 and is hardly a long-term for the Rockies.
Adding Realmuto to the mix would give Colorado an upgrade behind the dish, while also adding an impact position player to pair with Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, or build around if any of the trio depart when they reach free agency.
Much-needed lineup depth
What’s more, in 2017 the Rockies racked up 87 wins despite a top-heavy position player group that had just five players (Blackmon, Arenado, LeMahieu, Trevor Story and Lucroy) who posted a 1.0 fWAR or higher.
Of that group, just two (Blackmon at 6.5 and Arenado at 5.6) eclipsed the 2.0 mark.
In fact, six different Rockies with at least 170 plate appearances turned in fWAR marks south of 0.0.
What’s more, Gerardo Parra could also be bound for the free agent market in the near future.
Per Spotrac, the outfielder has one year left on his contract, as well as a $12 million team option for 2019 that comes with a $1.5 million buy out.
While Realmuto has just a season more of controllability left than Arenado, with three seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining (according to Spotrac), he’d be a key long-term piece in Denver if the Rockies can re-sign him.
The Miami Marlins side of the trade
While Antonio Senzatela isn’t the kind of headliner that Lewis Brinson, or even Sandy Alcantara was, he provides the Marlins with a rotation solution who is only 23 and logged 134.2 fairly effective innings at the Major League level in 2017.
The starter’s overall stat line won’t blow you away (6.82 strikeouts per nine innings, a 1.30 WHIP, a 4.68 ERA, a 4.52 FIP and a 4.28 xFIP), but similar to former teammate Tyler Chatwood, he was markedly better away from Coors Field.
Antonio Senzatela at Coors Field in 2017: 78.2 IP, 5.15 ERA, 5.13 FIP, 4.61 xFIP, 5.61 K/9, 2.97 BB/9, 1.47 HR/9 and a 1.27 WHIP.
Antonio Senzatela on the road in 2017: 56 innings, 4.02 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 8.52 K/9, 3.38 BB/9, 0.80 HR/9 and a 1.34 WHIP.
Additionally, per Spotrac, Senzatela comes with five years of controllability remaining, including two seasons before he is eligible for arbitration.
Essentially, the right-hander can headline Miami’s rotation for years to come or become a controllable trade chip that can be flipped in the future for even more pieces to further the rebuild.
Putting up gaudy stat lines in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League is nothing new for hitters, but Jordan Patterson turned in a breakout offensive season at the minors’ highest level in 2017.
The former fourth-round pick registered career highs across the board in games played (131), plate appearances (542), home runs (26), runs scored (78), RBI (92) and ISO (.256).
While Patterson is moving away from prospect status at 25, he still has the raw power and upside to make an impact.
In Miami, he could provide the franchise with a power-oriented replacement for Justin Bour at first base, and could also see time in the outfield corners.
We continue with another power hitting, Major-League ready prospect in Tom Murphy.
Murphy could very well see time behind the dish in 2018 with the Rockies, but he’s also potentially blocked by both Iannetta and Tony Wolters.
In Miami, he could soak up the lion’s share of at-bats potentially vacated by Realmuto.
Catching help (for the future) needed
For all the moves the Marlins have made this offseason to begin rebuilding, the franchise still doesn’t have a long-term replacement for Realmuto.
As of January, MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline didn’t have any catchers ranked in the publication’s look at the top 30 Miami prospects. Meanwhile, Minor League Ball didn’t have any catchers ranked among their top 20 Fish prospects.
What’s more, Baseball America didn’t have any catchers among their estimation of the top 10 Marlins prospects. That list also came out before the trades to acquire the likes of Brinson, Alcantara, Monte Harrison, Jorge Guzman, Magneuris Sierra, Isan Diaz and Nick Neidert for Major League talent.
There aren’t many proven options to step in behind the plate in the immediate future either.
Murphy could provide some value as a power-hitting option behind the plate for the Fish. FanGraphs wrote the following about the backstop last winter in an article ranking the top 24 Rockies farmhands:
“If Murphy can be just be passable behind the plate, he’ll be an everyday player, as he generates plus power to all fields on contact. Murphy doesn’t present pitchers with a great target and is below-average receiver and ball-blocker, but he does have an average arm and isn’t fatally atrocious at any aspect of catching. Catchers worse than this have seen regular time behind the plate in recent years and some of them don’t have the power and approach that Murphy does.”
Trade Idea #2: Miami saves some cash in a swap of expiring contracts with San Diego
Miami Marlins receive: third baseman Chase Headley
San Diego Padres receive: relief pitchers Brad Ziegler, Junichi Tazawa and $2 million
The San Diego Padres have a history of bringing in pitchers, rehabbing their value somewhat and then flipping said pitcher for prospects.
Both relievers are currently on expiring contracts, as is the player they would be dealt for in this hypothetical transaction in Chase Headley.
Meanwhile, Headley is slated to make $13 million, per Spotrac.
The $2 million is thrown in to make up some of the difference for the Padres, while also allowing the Miami Marlins to save some cash in the transaction.
Ziegler and Tazawa
Of the quintet, with the possible exception of Castro, the relief pitchers may be the easiest of the bunch (relatively speaking) to deal.
Both had decided down years since joining the Marlins from Boston in the offseason as free agents.
Ziegler was in part done in by a sky-high .346 BABIP (his career number is .288) en route to registering the lowest strand-rate, second-highest SIERA and highest ERA, xFIP and WHIP of his 10-year career.
Tazawa, meanwhile, imploded after four serviceable years in the Red Sox’ bullpen.
The 31-year-old struggled to miss bats, seeing his swinging strike percentage drop to 8.8, the lowest mark of his career in a full season. It was the first time the veteran’s swinging strike percentage dipped below double digits since 2011. Since then, the lowest it dropped to was 11.5%.
The lack of swings and misses prevented Tazawa from keeping runners off the board.
Despite his WHIP rising to just 1.39 from 1.23 in 2016 and his career 1.28 stat—as well as his BABIP of .280 finishing well below his lifetime .316 number—the reliever’s run-prevention stats ballooned.
He registered a 5.69 ERA, a 5.30 xFIP, a 4.96 FIP and a 4.94 SIERA in 2017 after turning in a 4.17 ERA, a 3.79 xFIP, a 4.23 FIP and a 3.25 SIERA in his last season in Boston.
Why it would work
Perhaps a move to spacious Petco Park would benefit both.
In this hypothetical situation, both rebuilding clubs would essentially be swapping out trade chips. The Padres would once again try to rebuild a hurler’s trade value, in this case with Ziegler and Tazawa.
Meanwhile, the Marlins would add Chase Headley as corner infield insurance and as a potentially movable piece.
The 33-year-old was solid with the Bronx Bombers in 2017, posting a 1.9 fWAR, 12 home runs, a .329 wOBA, a 10.2% walk rate and a 104 wRC+ in 586 plate appearances.
For San Diego, it paves the way for Cory Spangenberg to continue establishing himself at third base after making 86 starts at the position in 2017.
Trade Idea #3: Boston steps it up, Miami plunges deeper into the rebuild
Miami Marlins receive: infielder Michael Chavis, first baseman Mitch Moreland, catcher Blake Swihart and pitching prospect Jay Groome
Boston Red Sox receive: infielder Starlin Castro, first baseman Justin Bour and relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough
There’s a lot to unpack here, in this blockbuster of sorts.
At first glance, the Red Sox are paying a pretty penny. However, the team plays in the same division as the New York Yankees and their new slugger in Giancarlo Stanton.
The Red Sox are also looking at a crowded American League pennant chase that also includes the defending champion Astros (complete with the newly-acquired Gerrit Cole), Cleveland and Anaheim—a franchise that added Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart without sacrificing any of the team’s core. The Halos will also get a full season of Justin Upton in 2018.
There are also dangerous teams like Minnesota, Seattle and Texas lurking as potential playoff contenders as well.
Not only do they need to improve in the sense of keeping up with the Joneses, but the Sox are also in definite win-now mode.
Dustin Pedroia is 34. Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz are slated to hit free agency next winter. Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez and Rick Porcello could follow the next winter when their respective contracts expire.
Acquiring Castro, Bour and Barraclough certainly qualifies as upping the ante.
The headliner of the trade is Castro, who can fill in at second base for Pedroia while the veteran is sidelined to begin the year.
Once Pedroia returns, Castro could slide over to third base to act as both an insurance policy and a compliment to Rafael Devers at the hot corner should the young third baseman struggle.
The former Yankee’s contract is somewhat hefty, calling for (according to Spotrac) a $10 million salary in 2018 and an $11 million salary in 2019. Per the same publication, the infielder will take home signing bonuses of $857,142 in each of the next two years.
What’s more, his contract also has a 2020 club option for $16 million that comes with an $1 million buyout.
That may seem like some serious cash—which it is—but the move would not only give Boston an infield solution now, but also for later.
Pedroia isn’t getting younger and has been slowed by injuries as of late. He was limited to 105 games last year thanks to three trips to the disabled list. While he suited up in 154 contests in 2016, the second baseman played only just 93 games back in 2015.
The veteran’s injuries limited him somewhat at the dish. Despite a quality .369 on-base percentage, Pedroia turned in the second-lowed wRC+ and fWAR marks of his career at 102 and 1.9 respectively.
Prior to that, his previous lows in both categories came in his 31 games, 98 plate appearance debut in 2006 that featured a .258 on-base percentage and a .251 wOBA.
Castro could take over at second base as Pedroia’s eventual successor, or move over to shortstop if Xander Bogaerts leaves after the 2019 campaign. Boston could also shift Dustin Pedroia to designated hitter more often, leaving second base duties to the ex-Cub.
Bour is similar to current Red Sox player Mitch Moreland in the sense that he’s a righty-mashing first baseman.
However, he’s different in the sense that he’s much better at the plate against right-handed pitching.
Last season, the 29-year-old hit 19 home runs to go along with a .300 average, a .378 on-base percentage, a .552 slugging percentage, a .929 OPS, a .252 ISO, a .384 wOBA and a 139 wRC+ in 331 plate appearances against right-handers.
Meanwhile, in 491 plate appearances versus righties, Moreland hit just .246 with a .324 on-base percentage, a .460 slugging percentage, a .784 OPS, a .214 ISO, a .329 wOBA and a 101 wRC+ last season.
With the exception of designated hitter, first base is the only position where Boston needs or can upgrade given the young talent elsewhere on the roster.
Adding a controllable player like Bour, who per Spotrac has three years of controllability left via arbitration, will help keep the Red Sox’ window of contention propped open a bit more.
Bour will also help beef up a Boston lineup that finished 10th in the league in runs scored last season with 785 runs. While that number was respectable, it finished behind every other American League postseason team, as well as the Rangers.
The Red Sox offense also finished well behind their division-rival Yankees, who ranked second with 858 runs scored.
What’s more, Boston ranked just 20th in wOBA and 22nd in wRC+.
For reference, Justin Bour finished 2017 with a .374 wOBA and a 133 wRC+.
Rounding out the transaction is Barraclough, who would give the Red Sox a different look out of the bullpen.
The right-hander has been nothing short of dynamic since making his Major League debut in 2015.
Since then, the reliever has thrown 163 innings. In that span, he’s struck out 12.09 batters per nine innings to go along with a 13.3% swinging strike percentage.
Walks have been a bit of an issue at times for the hurler, though, with 5.52 free passes handed out per nine innings in his career and 5.18 walks allowed per nine innings last season.
That being said, Barraclough has remained effective in regards to run prevention. He’s registered a lifetime 2.87 ERA, a 2.93 FIP, a 3.58 xFIP and a 3.64 SIERA.
According to Spotrac, the right-hander is controllable for four more years, including one more season before he reaches arbitration eligibility.
If he can reign in his walks, Barraclough could eventually step in for Craig Kimbrel if the Sox let their closer walk in free agency next winter.
Even if Kimbrel sticks around for the long haul, Kelly will be a free agent next November, while Thornburg is slated to hit the open market the next winter.
With bullpens—and deep bullpens at that—carrying such importance in the modern game, teams can never have enough quality relief pitchers.
With the Yankees and Astros sporting relief corps overflowing with top-end bullpen arms, the Red Sox would do well to bring some additional reinforcements.
The Miami Marlins’ side of the deal
Despite neither having played in the Majors, infielder Michael Chavis and pitching prospect Jay Groome are the two biggest names in this hypothetical trade.
Prospect evaluation sites are somewhat split in regards to which player is the better prospect. Baseball America has Groome ranked first and Chavis second among Boston farmhands, as does Minor League Ball and Baseball Prospectus.
Meanwhile, MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline’s recent look at the game’s top 100 prospects includes Chavis at 79th and Groome just six spots away at 85th.
Regardless of which player you or the prospect evaluators, rate higher, the fact remains that both are quality prospects.
Neither are close to the Majors, as Chavis split 2017 between Advanced-A Salem and Double-A Portland, while Groome spent time in the South Atlantic League (Single-A) with Greenville and in the New York-Pennsylvania League with Lowell (Short season A-ball).
The fact that neither are Major-League ready should be just fine with the Miami Marlins.
The reality is that the Fish aren’t going to be great this year, and may not be ready to start taking steps toward contention for a couple more seasons.
By the time Chavis and Groome are ready, Miami will likely be more competitive.
Meanwhile, Chavis could be the National League East franchise’s long-term solution at either second base or first base.
Moreland’s inclusion in this hypothetical deal is similar—at least financially, albeit on a much smaller scale— to Castro’s inclusion in the Giancarlo Stanton trade.
Moreland is slated to make, according to Spotrac, $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons. With Bour heading the other way, Moreland could see time at first base for the Fish.
His contract isn’t exactly the league minimum, but it’s reasonable enough that if he performs, the ex-Ranger could be flipped for a prospect at some point before his contract expires.
While Chavis and Groome are pieces for the future and Moreland would be more of a veteran placeholder, Swihart could step in and play a part for Miami now and later at the Major League level.
Capable of seeing time in left field and at first base in addition to behind the plate, the 25-year-old would give the Marlins a versatile, young piece to pair with the likes of Brinson, Alcantara, Sierra and Brian Anderson.
Trade Idea #4: More large contract swapping, this time with multi-year deals!
Miami Marlins receive: starting pitcher Ian Kennedy and outfielder Billy Burns
Kansas City Royals receive: third baseman Martin Prado and infielder Derek Dietrich
Kansas City, like Miami, is embarking on a rebuild and is shedding salary. The Royals have already jettisoned Joakim Soria, Brandon Moss, Scott Alexander and Ryan Buchter in moves that help the club save money.
While the American League Central franchise could conceivably still re-sign Eric Hosmer, they’ve already lost Lorenzo Cain to free agency. Third baseman Mike Moustakas also remains unsigned on the open market.
If Kansas City loses one or both of the franchise’s longtime corner infield, the club could use some additional depth.
Martin Prado could make sense for the Royals in that regard.
Results will likely matter little for the Royals next season, as they seem destined stay tethered to the division basement.
In that regard, a change of scenery trade involving Kennedy, Burns, Prado and Dietrich could make sense.
Switching things up
The Royals haven’t exactly gotten top value from Ian Kennedy (1.2 fWAR, 5.08 FIP in 349.2 innings) since signing the hurler prior to the 2016 campaign.
Due $16.5 million, according to Spotrac, in each of the next two seasons, he’s a prime trade candidate if Kansas City is looking to shed more payroll.
However, because of the 33-year-old’s contract and struggles, he may not be the easiest player to deal.
Enter the Miami Marlins.
Miami has it’s own large, somewhat immovable contract in Martin Prado.
Prado, who was limited to just 147 plate appearances last season, hit just .252 with a .274 wOBA, a 67 wRC+ and a -0.1 fWAR.
Per Spotrac, he’ll make $13.5 million this year before taking home $15 million in 2019.
In total, his $28.5 million salary doesn’t exactly line up with Kennedy’s $33 million over the next few years, but Dietrich’s inclusion in the deal helps even things out from a financial standpoint.
Spotrac has the 28-year-old making $2.9 million in 2018 with two years of arbitration remaining.
In Kansas City, he and Prado would provide options at third base and first base. Dietrich could also see time at second base or occasionally in left field.
As it stands, the Royals’ top incumbent option at third base is Cheslor Cuthbert, who is coming off a 58 game, 153 plate appearance season that saw him register a 56 wRC+, a .261 wOBA, a .275 on-base percentage, a 25.5% strikeout rate and a .091 ISO.
The Miami Marlins’ side of the deal
Despite rebuilding status, Miami needs rotation stability.
Said stability will expedite the rebuild somewhat while not overexposing the younger arms—both starters and relievers—on the roster.
Last season, 12 different starters made five or more starts for the Fish.
Alcantara seems a decent bet to step into the rotation at some point in 2018, but the Marlins could use a pitcher to soak up innings while the rest of the organization’s starting prospects develop.
While Kennedy doesn’t have the best track record in terms of run prevention (4.38 ERA and a 4.90 FIP) over the past three seasons, he has averaged 191 innings since becoming a starter full-time in 2010.
If he can regain some of the form he’s displayed in Arizona and San Diego, the veteran could once again become a valuable trade chip.
The last piece in the transaction is Burns.
The 28-year-old got some serious run in the Oakland outfield as recently as 2015, but he’s found playing time harder to come by in a Kansas City uniform.
Last season, the outfielder logged just six plate appearances for KC.
In Miami, the former A’s player would give the Marlins a veteran presence to help take the pressure off Brinson, Sierra and Braxton Lee.