Mike Hill and the rest of the Marlins' front office have begun preliminary talks about acquiring starting pitching. According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Marlins have contacted the San Diego Padres regarding Drew Pomeranz and the Tampa Bay Rays regarding Jake Odorizzi. Meanwhile, according to Jon Heyman, Bud Norris of the Atlanta Braves could also be in play.
Pomeranz is having the best season of his career for the Padres as a 27-year old. While he's still allowing home runs at the pitcher's haven of Petco Park, Pomeranz is posting the best strikeout rate of his career by more than five percentage points.
That being said, in the 2016 small sample size, Marlins Park has suppressed home runs at the seventh-best rate, including doing better than Petco Park. Pomeranz is arbitration-eligible through the 2018 season and will make $1.35 million this year.
The 26-year old Odorizzi may be a more difficult option to obtain for the Marlins, while not necessarily offering much more upside than Pomeranz. Odorizzi is arbitration-eligible through the 2019 season and has shown significant promise. Over the past three seasons, Odorizzi has posted the 29th-best strikeout-to-walk rate of any qualified starter.
While that has yet to materialize into major results on the field, it definitely signifies promise, and the Rays may not want to relinquish that easily. Especially considering that he's under team control for the next three seasons. Typically a cost-conscious team, the haul coming back for Odorizzi would likely have to be substantial. For more on the Marlins' interest on Odorizzi, read here.
bud norris drawing interest from a number of teams, including marlins. 2.43 era since april. could help chiw, sea, det, etc— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 23, 2016
Meanwhile, the Braves could be looking to sell their surprise performer Norris this trade deadline. After signing a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Braves, Norris seemed like a guy that would help the team get through the season while perhaps improving his stock for the following offseason.
As Heyman astutely points out, since the beginning of May, Norris has been a reliable contributor to the Braves' cause. Along with his 2.43 ERA, Norris has posted a 2.80 FIP in his 40.2 innings. Since June 4th--when Norris earned a rotation spot--he has pitched 22.1 innings, allowing seven earned runs on 17 hits and eight walks while striking out 21. He has yet to allow a home run as a starter this year, and his seven inning gem against the tough Chicago Cubs lineup has certainly helped to boost his portfolio.
Four and a half games back of first place as of Thursday morning, the Marlins have found themselves somewhat surprisingly in a pennant race prior to the halfway point of the season. By wRC+ they are the 15th-best team at hitting coming in three percent below league average.
However, by FanGraphs' defensive metric, they are the third-best at fielding, which would make acquiring a bat a little less intuitive. Furthermore, Dee Gordon is eligible to come back from his suspension for PEDs on July 29th. That could also be compounding matters for the Marlins figuring out which side of the ball they'd like to improve on the most. Gordon would not be eligible for the playoff roster if the Marlins were to make it there.
Instead then, the focus seems to be on their starting pitching, which ranks eighth in all of baseball by FIP. In the top 10 certainly doesn't sound bad, however, both the New York Mets and Washington Nationals sit ahead of them at first and fourth respectively.
Furthermore, despite posting great strikeout, walk, and home run numbers, the Marlins rotation has had trouble going deep into games. Among all 30 teams, the Marlins' rotation ranks 20th in innings pitched per game, just ahead of the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates and immediately behind the Atlanta Braves.
The mainstays of Jose Fernandez, Adam Conley, and Tom Koehler have been both reliable and effective. Meanwhile, Wei-Yin Chen, their biggest offseason addition, has been underwhelming at best. The team committed $80 million over five years for Chen's services as well as surrendering a draft pick. Over his last three starts, Chen has pitched 13.2 innings and allowed seven home runs with an ERA of 9.88 and a FIP of 9.20.
A total of eight pitchers have made starts for the Marlins this season. With Justin Nicolino currently with Triple-A New Orleans, it definitely seems as if the Marlins will look to improve their starting rotation as the trade deadline draws nearer. Especially if they stay in contention in the difficult NL East.