You have probably heard by now that the Miami Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria have fooled the tax paying citizens by robbing them of hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium while promising to put a competitive team on the field.
The Marlins did spend big on free agents last offseason but only to see the team trade them, and their other high profile and high priced players, the following offseason. Oh, and the free agents they did sign were signed to such heavily back loaded contracts that, just maybe, we should have seen this type of move from Loria on the horizon.
Loria is, without a doubt, the worst owner in the game and Major League Baseball should step in and make sure this does not happen again. Loria has fooled fans and taken advantage of the system far too many times and should not be allowed to own an MLB team.
But, when you look at this trade simply as a baseball move I believe the Marlins did a fantastic job of unloading money, aging veterans with escalating salaries, expiring contracts that were expensive, and collecting talent, especially young controllable talent. Take a look at the contracts that are leaving the Marlins payroll:
|Player||Years||Guaranteed Money Owed|
|Emilio Bonifacio||2yrs||$10M (Estimated through arb)|
The Marlins subtracting roughly $174M in contracts while only adding a guaranteed $11.5M in Jeff Mathis and Yunel Escobar and no guaranteed money beyond 2014. Sure, the Marlins gave up a lot of proven talent, but they received a lot of talent in return.
The Marlins received center field prospect Jake Marisnick, who ranked second in my 2012 Blue Jays prospect rankings, and is a true center fielder with plenty of range and arm. Marisnick, who turns 23 around Opening Day, had a huge 2011 that produced a .320/.392/.500 triple-slash line and 153 wRC+ in A-ball while hitting 14 homeruns and stealing 37 bases in 118 games. His 2012 was a little disappointing after posting a 127 wRC+ in High-A. He was moved up to Double-A where he only produced a 70 wRC+ and saw his walk rate drop from 8.5% to 4.5%. The talent is still there for a potential 5-tool center fielder but Marisnick needs to show improved plate discipline and the raw power he shows in pre-game.
Justin Nicolino was ranked fifth in my Blue Jays rankings last season and he tore through A-ball pitching at the age of 20 the entire season. In 124.1 innings he posted a 2.46 ERA, 2.54 FIP, struck out 119, unintentionally walked 20, and allowed only six homeruns. He has a plus change-up to go with excellent control and command and has a little bit of projection left in his 6’3” frame to add to his low-90s fastball. I think I am a bit higher on him than some others but I think he could be a number two starter if he does add some velocity without compromising his control or command.
Adeiny Hechavarria is a potential Gold Glove shortstop with excellent range, arm, and instincts but no bat and no idea of an approach at the plate. He walked an abysmal four times in 137 big league plate appearances last season and has only single-digit power. He is a good runner but does not steal bases –you have to reach base to steal– so his value is going to be based solely on his glove.
Anthony Desclafani looks like a good organizational arm that, if left in the rotation, could be a fifth starter or swingman. His best asset is his fastball that can reach the mid-90s in short stints so there is some belief that he could be a middle reliever in the Majors.
Henderson Alvarez could be a steal in this trade if he can recover some of his lost velocity. His fastball is flat and will not survive in the 93 mph range if he does not improve his change-up which used to be a potential out-pitch. With less than six mph separating the two pitches hitters, especially those that were in the AL East, were able to square him up and he only managed a 5.1% swinging-strike rate which was the worst rate in the Majors. Moving out of the AL East and into the National League should help but he must refine his change-up or magically add velocity to regain his mid-rotation starter ceiling.
As you can see, the Marlins did very well from a baseball standpoint. They cleared nearly $165M in contracts while adding two great prospects and a few good young players who are cost-controlled. But, there is more to this move than what is on paper, and the ripple-effect may outweigh the gain from a baseball perspective.
-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and the Florida Marlins at ESPN’s SweetSpot site Marlins Daily. You can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony DeSclafani, Emilio Bonifacio, Henderson Alvarez, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, Jeffrey Loria, John Buck, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Miami Marlins, Prospects, Toronto Blue Jays, Trades, Yunel Escobar