A lot of people are honestly scratching their heads over the Marlins trade deadline deal – including myself. Yet, the more I have read about it, the more it makes sense from a certain perspective. This trade starts, and ends, with one objective – convincing Giancarlo Stanton to stay and sign a long term deal.
We already talked about how Stanton is growing more amicable towards staying with the Marlins. Others are starting to finally pick this up, too.
Joe Frisaro remarked that the Marlins would have had to send Christian Yelich and maybe even Andrew Heaney to pick up Jon Lester. The Marlins did not even entertain the notion and reports said that the Red Sox wanted a “king’s ransom” for Lester.
— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) July 30, 2014
If the Marlins were hesitant to part with Yelich and even Heaney for a short term rental, you can bet they were not even thinking about moving Stanton either. In fact, Rob Bradford confirmed this:
According to a major league source, despite the strong interest from the Marlins regarding Jon Lester leading into the non-waiver trade deadline, the Red Sox never engaged Miami in talks for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Finally the message is starting to reach people. Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe reported:
It seems as if the Red Sox and other teams have finally come to the realization that Stanton isn’t going anywhere. The theme has been repeated constantly by GM Dan Jennings, who really believes that owner Jeffrey Loria will step up and get a deal done even if it’s a Robinson Cano/Albert Pujols type of contract. That could be a reason why the Red Sox obtained Cespedes, who obviously isn’t as good but has the power and athleticism to improve. This offseason will be telling on the Stanton front. He has a home in Miami and feels the organization is going in the right direction, so, for now, he seems to be all in on staying with the Marlins.
The Marlins’ brass has been saying it all season long. The timing wasn’t right to offer a deal to Stanton – they had to prove they were not trying to blow up the roster and milk it for revenue but instead build a winner. They had to do this with actions and the signing of players like Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia were ways to communicate that. Stanton is having his best season, and is doing it while getting paid $6.5M this season.
But what does Jarred Cosart have to do with the future?
Stanton has to be happy. The team is moving in the right direction and they stated publicly that they wanted to add to their rotation and find an option for 2B, too. The Marlins said they are not sellers and that was mostly because of the way the team confirmed their assessment with the way they played on their most recent road trip.
So, for the Fish to live up to their billing, and keep Stanton happy, they had to take action – and that is what they did. With the trade with the Astros, the Marlins added a starter to their rotation and also they added some depth with Kike Hernandez who could play 2B and pretty much anywhere else on the field. If they stood pat and did nothing, what would that communicate to the fans and to Stanton?
It did cost the Marlins something – they had to deal away their position depth at the minor league level. Notably, they had to deal away their top pick from last season, Colin Moran, and their 5-tool OFer in Jake Marisnick. And this is the problem – many cite the fact that the Marlins dealt away these two young players as confusing. Don’t the Marlins need a 3B moving forward? They have no prospects on the horizon to build with at that position. Marisnick was their OF depth as many foresaw a future OF with Marisnick at center, flanked by Yelich and Ozuna.
At least, that was the plan if Stanton was to be dealt away but a lot has changed though, hasn’t it?
Reading between the lines, the Marlins no longer need either player in their future plans. Moran was pegged to be the Marlins 3B of the future mostly because there were no other legit challengers. Moran’s defensive abilities projected him to be more of a 1B than a 3B at the MLB level, and questions about his power were surfacing. With this in mind, would he be an improvement over McGehee? Maybe in a few years, but at that point who knows what the trade/free agent market looks like for the Marlins. Besides, McGehee has been very productive with Stanton in the lineup and the two have become good friends. In short, if you want to keep your franchise player happy, why not show him that you are committed to this team winning? Removing McGehee’s only threat will assure things of stability and help heal the wounds of the past – like the trade with the Blue Jays. Yet, it also says a lot about the Marlins’ assessment of Moran – maybe they just do not feel his ceiling is higher than that of McGehee’s at this point.
Which brings us to Marisnick. He has the defensive tools to be starting in CF right now – but his bat is lacking. He continues to be confused by breaking pitches and gets confused in the box all too often. He is still young and could sort that out but the other thing to keep in mind is, Marcell Ozuna has a cannon for an arm and has taken to the position very nicely in what was supposed to be an interim gig. Ozuna’s bat has been productive as well. Both his emergence and the need to keep Stanton happy had to play a role in this deal with the Astros. In trading Marisnick away, the Marlins are backing their current OF and putting action to their word when they say they are keeping Stanton long term. If Stanton was to be dealt, Marisnick would have slid right into CF and Ozuna over to RF.
Even though most Marlin fans are hurting over the loss of Marisnick and Moran, really, from a certain perspective, fans should be extremely excited. The Marlins have been saying all season long they are not looking to deal Stanton – and the word is finally getting around. They also said they want to build themselves into sustainable contenders – which means not giving up their depth for short term gain. The Marlins have always viewed their game plan to be built around pitching – and they didn’t want to give it up for no reason. They did make a play for Jon Lester and the reports were they put together a great package of prospects – and it probably started with Moran and Marisnick, even adding some pitching prospects as well.
Which brings us to Cosart. He was brought in to bolster the starting rotation. With Jose Fernandez out, the rotation was in need of a shot in the arm to spell the bullpen – they need dependable innings from starters. Henderson Alvarez has stepped up and become the staff ace and an all-star – but now is facing time on the DL with shoulder inflammation; only underscoring the need for pitching depth. The Marlins had been pushing out Brad Hand and Jacob Turner to audition for their rotation and see what they had. With Cosart, the Marlins have the makings of a pretty stellar rotation with Fernandez, Alvarez, Eovaldi, Cosart, and Koehler. They also have Andrew Heaney waiting in the wings as well as other prospects (keep an eye on Tyler Kolek).
Adding Cosart not only shows that the Marlins are trying to build for the future (his contract is controllable until 2020) but they also found more pitching depth, which is this team’s forte. The Marlins have always said that they regard their pitching as an asset and judging by this year’s trading deadline, the price for pitching is quite steep – the Marlins could shed some of their prospects for a bat if needed down the road. Yet the goal is to build a sustainable winner and with Stanton at the center of it, the Marlins have the biggest power bat in the game – and they stand to lock him up for the long term, which means more wins and a greater likelihood for contention. The Cosart deal just shows the Marlins are building towards contention – for the short term and the long term. But only if we can read between the lines.