Marlins open to trading excess rotation again this offseason

As last year’s offseason began, reports surfaced that the Marlins were considering trading their stock of young starting pitchers to bolster their roster. In the end, they traded Zach Thompson as a member of Jacob Stallings trade, but stopped short of a more eye-catching deal.

It seems that strategy is still in play, with Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald signaling that the club will once again be looking to trade throw for an extra attack. The report lists the aces Sandy Alcantara and the best hope of the club Eury Perez as the two “untouchable” arms of the team, with the others seemingly available at the right price.

In addition to the Thompson trade, there have been a few other ways the club’s rotational surplus has been reduced over the past year. Perspective Max Meyer made two starts before Tommy John surgery put him out of action for the rest of this year and potentially all of next year as well. Sixto Sanchez continued to deal with shoulder issues, having not started a game since 2020. Elieser Hernandez Struggled enough that he got knocked down in the bullpen and later went for the minors.

These setbacks aside, the club still has a mix that includes Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo, Trevor Rogers, Braxton Garrett, Daniel Castano, Nick Neidert, with the report listing Lopez, Cabrera and Rogers as logical trade candidates. He also indicates that the club would consider offering prospects to a rebuilding team in order to obtain players ready for the MLB. Although Perez is apparently not on the table, Jake Eder and Dax Fulton are mentioned as possibilities.

Lopez, 26, is no stranger to trade rumours, having been frequently mentioned both as someone who could be moved on and someone who is generating interest in the league. It was reported last week that the Marlins and Yankees had discussed a deal before the deadline which would have seen the Fish acquire Gleyber Torres and perspective on the ground Oswald Peraza, although the Yanks apparently balked at the deal. The Marlins are in no real rush to deal with him, as he can be controlled throughout the 2024 season by arbitration. He is in his third straight solid season, recording a 3.66 ERA in 25 starts this year. Perhaps more importantly, he has remained healthy and put aside some worries after missing part of last year with shoulder problems. He’s making $2.45 million this year and will get a raise for next season through arbitration, though he’s still very affordable and should attract interest from other teams.

Cabrera, 24, would make a very different trade chip, having much more control but less proven experience. He just made his MLB debut last year and has missed about six weeks this season with tendonitis in his elbow. He’s only got 15 MLB starts on his roster so far, but has shown promise in that time, recording a 3.71 ERA in his young career. He entered this year with just 40 days of MLB service, but was drafted in the spring and wasn’t called up until June 1, which should put him at just under a year at the end of this season. even if he remains in the big leagues for the rest of the campaign. That means he should still have six years of control beyond this one, despite being in his last option year, which means he’ll have to earn a spot on an MLB roster from next year or be designated for an assignment.

Rogers, 24, broke out last year with a 2.64 ERA in 25 starts but has regressed here in 2022. He has a 5.85 ERA in 19 starts and has been on the IL for more than a month due to back spasms. It should still be attractive given its previous performance and the last four years of testing, but it will certainly have reduced commercial value compared to a year ago.

Eder, 23, was a 2020 fourth-round pick. The southpaw made 15 Double-A starts last year with a 1.77 ERA before undergoing surgery at Tommy John in August. He is out this year and could be restricted in 2023, although the Marlins hope to hand him over to a rebuilding club, which may not be as concerned about the short-term prospects. Fulton is also a southpaw but much younger, turning 21 in a few months. He was a second-round pick in 2020, having climbed all the way to Double-A. Between High-A and Double-A this year, he has a 4.05 ERA in 102 1/3 innings.

Whether the club can get a deal will of course depend on whether they line up with another club. A team with designs in immediate conflict would likely be more interested in Cabrera, Rogers or Lopez, while a rebuilding club would lean towards Eder and/or Fulton. It will also depend on what that other notional club has to offer the Marlins in return. As Jackson and Mish note in their report, the Marlins will use the final weeks of the season to audition select position players and assess their future roles. JJ Bleday, Lewin Diaz, Jerar Encarnacion and Peyton Burdick are all listed as players trying to get jobs on the 2023 team. How they do in those auditions could impact who the Marlins are looking to target in trades to improve their roster. The team as a whole has been around 12% below the league average at home plate this year, as indicated by their 88 wRC+, a mark that places them 26th in the majors.

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