Entering the Winter Meetings, the Marlins had been talking about getting better and surrounding their $325M dollar man, Giancarlo Stanton, with more assets. The needs were isolated – a starting pitcher, a power bat at a corner infield spot, and a secondbaseman. The market has been a bit unkind with targets falling just a bit out of range (see Adam LaRoche).
Yet, the Marlins got their man on Wednesday, trading with the Dodgers for Dee Gordon and Dan Haren. It cost the Fish a lot of their minor league depth – Enrique “Kiki” Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, and lefty prospect Andrew Heaney.
Gordon is the major piece in this deal. He was the stolen base champ last year, as well as an all-star, swiping 64 bags. The Marlins, as a team, had only 58. Dee Gordon stole more than the entire Marlins team. Now he expects to be their lead off hitter, followed by Christian Yelich and the big thumper, Giancarlo Stanton.
This is a minor coup for the Fish. Gordon fits the profile of what the Marlins want – a hard working guy with lots of speed. He has MLB pedigree, as his father was “Flash” Gordon, but the work ethic is there. Gordon has had to earn his way on base with every AB, he is not a power guy but a speed guy and his ability to put the ball in play determines his success. Some will knock is fairly average OBP, but there is clearly a tangible skill set that could be refined and could benefit from the spacious dimensions of Marlins Park.
Also consider the coaching staff – don’t think Brett Butler will enjoy the opportunity to talk about bunting with a guy like Gordon? What is also interesting to consider is how Gordon, a lefty, will hit in front of Yelich, a lefty as well. With their combined speed and ability to get on base, expect a lot of RBI opportunities for Stanton.
Yet, this is only a part of what the Marlins must be looking to accomplish. Expect Haren to be flipped for another asset. (This feels like a way to get Justin Mourneau from Colorado with a potential three team trade with the Angel, but that is just rampant speculation!)
Is this a good deal? Everyone in MarlinsNation is asking this. The answer is an overwhelming yes. The Fish get a controllable player who is only 26 and will not be a free agent until 2019. Gordon clearly has a skill set the Marlins need and at a position of need. Think about the Adeiny Hechavarria and Dee Gordon combination in that middle infield. These are two guys who can cover a lot of ground and don’t forget Hech is a guy who is also seeing his offense improve each season. More importantly, in getting an all-star 2B, the Marlins really only gave up one regular at the big league level – Chris Hatcher. Heaney, Hernandez, and Barnes are fine prospects, but Hernandez and Barnes would not start over Gordon. Heaney may develop into a front line starter some day, but the Marlins realistically do not need to wait for that to happen. They have the depth to develop future arms (Tyler Kolek and Anthony DeSclafani come to mind) but they also have the means to win now. The Marlins have changed philosophy. They are indeed in win-now mode and no longer need to be focused solely on developing their farm system. That is not to say they don’t need to continue to develop their prospects, as that will always be a pipeline to make deals and refill the talent pool, but they do not need to hold on to those prospects just for the sake of having them. This deal to land Gordon demonstrates a significant shift for the Marlins. This is a slam-dunk of a deal that if it was being done in a larger market would be hailed as a critical move for that franchise.