The Marlins are once again pacing for a record around .500 — an impressive feat, given a payroll shy of $50 million. Nevertheless, the Marlins are still in fourth place in the National League East and seem unlikely to make a real run to catch up and sustain the pace being set by Phillies and Braves. They could certainly add someone in a similar capacity to the Nick Johnson trade last deadline, but odds are, they’ll hold steady or even move a part or two.
Buy or Sell?
Sell seems like the better option since the Marlins could cash in on a few pieces getting too expensive. Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, and Ricky Nolasco will enter their final year of team control next season; meanwhile, Jorge Cantu and Wes Helms will become free agents (as will Nate Robertson, but the Marlins are only paying him $400K).
Untouchables on the current roster include Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Josh Johnson, and Anibal Sanchez given how he’s pitched. Everyone else seems like a potential trade target — especially some of the Marlins’ relievers. Leo Nunez will probably stay in place, although they should listen to offers, but rejuvenation project Clay Hensley could lead to an interesting dilemma when it comes to weighing their confidence in his ability versus the guarantee of a return before a potential collapse.
The rest of the Marlins’ roster is a collection of young players and useful and (more importantly) cheap cogs without the kind of trade value that makes them must-goes.
On The Farm
Here’s where the Marlins shine. They just promoted Stanton, but Logan Morrison seems like the future at first base. 2007’s first-round pick, third baseman Matt Dominguez, is currently in Double-A Jacksonville. Meanwhile Triple-A New Orleans holds the team’s top two outfield prospects in Bryan Peterson and Scott Cousins. New Orleans also features a number of former major leaguers who could step in if the Marlins feel uncomfortable burning service time in a losing effort down the stretch.
As for pitching, the Marlins have a drove. There’s Chad James, Ryan Tucker, Brad Hand, Jhan Martinez, and yes, even old familiar names like Andrew Miller and Brett Sinkbeil – although it’s important to note neither is particularly close to their former prospect selves … Sinkbeil especially, he’s essentially a replacement level reliever at the Triple-A level.
The two spots the Marlins have organizational weakness at are the two that form the middle infield, although one could list catcher depending on their evaluation of Kyle Skipworth.
Just as Ambrose Bierce once wrote, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography”, the trade deadline is baseball’s way of teaching Marlins fans how the economic aspect of player development works. Hate him or … well, just slightly dislike him, Jeffrey Loria sticks to his guns when it comes to spending money. All success is credit to the Marlins’ front office’s creativity and ability to strike gold when they’re paying in tinfoil. Something that doesn’t appear likely to change within the next six months.