As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Miami Marlins: 44-41, 3rd in the NL East
When the Marlins hired Don Mattingly to be their manager, it was clear the organization was prepared to change its approach. The 2012 fire sale trade with the Blue Jays is in the past. Dan Jennings’ unsuccessful attempt to thrive in the dugout and front office is history. The page was turned.
Often when a new manager is hired, a rebuild follows. However, that isn’t the case for the Marlins, whose core features Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins have routinely said they believe they have a roster that should be considered one of the best in the league. Miami’s first half performance proves why.
Both the Nationals and Mets sit ahead of the Marlins in the division, but Miami has positioned itself to compete for a Wild Card spot. Fernandez has anchored the starting rotation, and the offense has been productive despite Stanton’s first half struggles.
Wei-Yin Chen, who the Marlins signed to a five-year deal last off-season, has been an inconsistent No. 2 option behind Fernandez, but Tom Koehler and Adam Conley have been effective. Miami has been hoping Justin Nicolino would pitch well at the back-end of the rotation, but his inconsistencies might force the club to add a veteran starting pitcher.
Miami’s bullpen has been among the top 10 in the National League in terms of ERA, and the lineup is collectively batting .274.
It seems there is a clearly defined hierarchy in the front office, with Owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly making fewer personnel suggestions and trusting his staff, led by President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill and Mattingly. The additions of pitching guru Jim Benedict and Mark DelPiano have proven to be valuable, and the Marlins trust Assistant GM Mike Berger and Vice President of Player Personnel Jeff McAvoy.
For the first time in a few seasons, the Marlins are in the playoff picture entering the All-Star break.
What moves have they made so far?
Miami made one of the first major bullpen moves of the summer, acquiring veteran reliever Fernando Rodney in exchange for Single-A starter Chris Paddack.
The Marlins expressed early interest in upgrading their bullpen, which has pitched to a 3.88 ERA, seventh overall in the National League. The club opened the season with lefty Mike Dunn on the disabled list and is without Carter Capps, who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in March. Capps was a candidate to compete for Miami’s closer job during Spring Training.
Bryan Morris is on the disabled list with a back injury, and as a result, the Marlins sought bullpen depth.
Rodney, 39, pitched to a 0.31 ERA and 2.34 FIP over 28.2 innings in San Diego before the trade. Since joining the Marlins, Rodney has posted a 6.75 ERA over four innings.
Although the Marlins lost a top prospect, adding Rodney gives Mattingly more flexibility with regard to using middle relievers. Now, the Marlins have productive setup options in David Phelps and Rodney and an effective closer in A.J. Ramos, who was one of four Marlins to make the National League All-Star team.
Are they buyers or sellers?
The Marlins have been close to .500 for the duration of the first half, but the addition of Rodney makes the club’s intentions clear. Leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Marlins are weighing every option and will be adding to the roster in the coming weeks.
Miami already addressed its bullpen and will now focus on adding a controllable starting arm. There aren’t many to choose from, and several other clubs are seeking starting pitching, so the Marlins might have to get creative.
Teams will inevitably check to see if the Marlins are considering trading Fernandez, but at this stage, that seems unrealistic. Martin Prado, who’s batting .314, could draw interest, since he will be a free agent this winter.
The Marlins don’t have much depth to move, so they might have to position themselves to take on salaries instead. Regardless, Miami has already established itself as a buyer.
Who will they target?
Since the Marlins already added a top reliever, a mid-tier starter will likely be their priority.
Miami was reportedly interested in Bud Norris before the Braves traded him to Los Angeles and is competing with teams that have more depth for the few available starting arms.
The Marlins have been linked to Rays righty Jake Odorizzi, who has pitched to a 4.33 ERA and 4.37 FIP over 99.2 innings and isn’t arbitration eligible until next season. If the Rays opt to sell several major league pieces this summer, Matt Moore, who has posted a 4.54 ERA and 4.53 FIP over 103.0 innings, could also emerge as a Marlins target.
Adding Padres lefty Drew Pomeranz would give the Marlins another left-handed option in the rotation, but the club reportedly doesn’t fully trust his ability to be consistent. Over 95.0 innings this season, Pomeranz has pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 3.21 FIP. He won’t be a free agent until 2019.
If the Diamondbacks make Robbie Ray or Patrick Corbin available, the Marlins would almost certainly be interested. Miami has also scouted Ervin Santana and Sonny Gray, though the club might not have enough depth to add Gray.
Miami has also been linked to Pirates southpaw Francisco Liriano, though Pittsburgh has not fully committed to selling.
The Marlins don’t have to make another trade to continue to compete. If Nicolino has success or Jarred Cosart is effective in the second half, adding another starter to the mix wouldn’t be necessary.
Cosart continues to have difficulty throwing strikes in Triple-A, and Nicolino hasn’t been effective with the Marlins, who are three games behind the Dodgers and Mets in the Wild Card standings.
Miami doesn’t have many options when it comes to trade chips but might have to find one or two.
The Marlins will almost certainly add another controllable starter, with Odorizzi and Pomeranz being the most realistic options. It won’t be too busy of a month for the Marlins, but another deal for pitching will be made sooner rather than later.