Re-evaluating the Marlins and Blue Jays Trade

110503_chone_figginsThe Marlins recently signed Chone Figgins to a minor league contract. This guy, back in 2009, was an MVP candidate for the Angels as he was a one-man wrecking crew getting on base, stealing bases, and scoring runs. His stint in Seattle, however, was a disaster.

One of the heavy criticisms this offseason has been that the Marlins had a fire sale and shipped off their best players for nothing in return. Once the dust settled, the Marlins drastically improved their farm system (ranked as high as 5th by MLB.com) and their future. They lost established players like Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio; they lost high-profile free agents like Mark Buerhle, Jose Reyes; they even lost a horrible contract mistake like John Buck. Yet a lot of energy was spent tongue-lashing the Marlins for this gutting of big money and claims were instantly made that this team was facing a horrible 2013 and worse future. Ricky Nolasco wanted to be moved. Giancarlo Stanton, the franchise corner stone, publicly expressed his frustration and doubt of this franchise.

One of the pieces of the trade that frustrated me was losing Bonifacio. Yes, this guy drove me crazy, but he matured and became a formidable asset (to finally make up for the trading of Josh Willingham) that helped rebuild the team speed the Marlins have been known for. Yet now, in Figgins, the Marlins may have found his replacement at a valuable price tag. The only risk the Fish have is, well, none. He is signed to a minor league deal and if he makes the team, they will only owe him the league minimum. If Figgins returns to his pre-Seattle days, he will prove to be a boon to this team. If not, well, they can easily dump him and move on. Yet in Figgins, the Marlins illustrate the exact kind of reclamation project they are about these days.

As for the rest of this trade, well, consider:

  • Can Adeiny Hechavarria replace Jose Reyes at SS? Defensively he definitely will – the only question is, can the Cuban national hit?
  • Rob Brantly will hit better than John Buck and if all the buzz about Brantly’s defense is accurate, then this is a win for the Fish.
  • Can the Marlins find a way to replace the 393.2 IP of Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson? They acquired more arms from the Blue Jays to stock up their farm system but they will not replace the experience either Buerhle or Johnson had. That said, there is potential in young arms like Jose Fernandez and Justin Nicolino to slide in as early as this season. I’m betting on Fernandez to make a splash. The Marlins did snag a couple of veteran arms that could get some time in the rotation, but even still there looks to be a plan in place to go with a youth movement and see where it takes this team.

If the Marlins are simply going to replace what they have lost, and do it cheaper, then this team is still a 69 win/93 loss team but at a more affordable price. And if winning has anything to do with the direction of this franchise, then they will be able to improve their record and do it at a savings and with an eye towards the future. Can they do that with the given personnel? We’ll definitely find out and a signing like the Chone Figgins signing could play a role.