WARNING: This article is total speculation.
That’s right. I am being totally speculative here. And most of you will disagree with the specifics of this article, but probably not the subject.
The Marlins just got swept by the team with the worst record in baseball. With 32 wins, and three games at the expense of the Fish, they just bumped themselves closer to the 2nd worst record in baseball – which is currently held by the Marlins.
Much speculation has been made over the status of pending free agents and their collective futures with the Marlins. Players like Dan Haren, Mat Latos, and even Ichiro Suzuki were brought in to try and push the envelope a bit for this year’s fortunes. The core of the team has been decimated with injuries, and as a result the Marlins, who never started off well to begin with, have bumbled down in the standings. They are definitely sellers in the market.
That said, despite any real prospects of a post season this year, the brass has maintained that they are keeping the core together. They have been giving this lip service until this past offseason when they re-signed both Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to long term deals. Still, there is a lot of doubt over this because past actions have dictated this team’s perception – but we can move beyond such fears for the moment.
Assume for a moment that the Marlins’ front office is true about its intentions. Then players like Haren and Latos may be dealt for whatever mid-level prospects they can muster in order to get something for a potential nothing. Yet, the big league club, most do agree, is well within contention range. The pitching staff has Henderson Alvarez and Jared Cosart still out with injury; Stanton, Gordon, and even Marcell Ozuna are working their way back (Ozuna has been in a very long slump of late but is producing at AAA and looking like the hitter of last year). The biggest glaring hole has been 1B for the Fish, but even that has some optimism in Justin Bour, who has put together a very nice season playing on what looked to be a backup role to incumbent Michael Morse. Then, the Marlins went out and brought back Casey McGehee, who was recently let go by the Giants.
This essentially gives the Fish three players at 1B – Bour, McGehee, and Morse. Of the three, the most marketable, at the moment, must be Bour because of his youth, financial flexibility, and prospect. Morse is a bust at this point; his big loopy swing is currently being exposed and he is certainly not looking like the everyday power threat to help protect Stanton in the lineup like the Marlins envisioned. McGehee is a solid clubhouse leader with the ability to play 1B and 3B, but only in a backup role at each spot.
So, why not roll the dice and go out and try and trade for a guy like Joey Votto? The Reds are noted recently for wanting to have a fire sale to help shore up their finances. This, coming right after their huge All Star showcase.
Look, Votto is not likely to be traded. But he has a HUGE contract that was 10 years and $225M with a club option in 2024 (when Votto will be 41). It was a legacy deal to lock him in as a Red for life; much like Giancarlo’s deal with the Fish was. That is a lot of cash to clear up, and creates a lot of payroll flexibility for a “small market” team.
And Votto could be worth every penny as well. This guy was an MVP candidate and an all star for years, until a recent injury set him back and held him to only 62 games in 2014. He is currently having a bounce back year in 2015.
It is pretty obvious that this guy would show the Marlins moving in the right direction and he would be a key player to acquire and make the Marlins serious contenders moving forward – maybe not this season, but certainly well into the future. His lefty bat would play well at Marlins Park as well. The Fish would have to think about what to do with their recent 1st round pick, Josh Naylor, but one can never bank on depth in this league. This would be akin to the Miami Heat’s acquisition of Goran Dragic, who helped changed the Heat’s fortunes from fringe playoff team to rising contenders once again. A hitter like Votto in the same lineup as Stanton would definitely improve their offense.
Would the Reds do it? Would the Marlins have enough to get a deal done? That is obviously where this is all speculative. Perhaps finding their way out of a $225M contract would be incentive enough. Getting back some strong prospects may get the deal done. Maybe start with Justin Bour, who could play right now (and certainly could hit at Great America) and for the foreseeable future. Throw in a pitching prospect or two from the Adam Conley, Justin Nicolino, and Jose Urena variety; or cash in on Tyler Kolek. Include a future first round draft choice or maybe ship back a veteran player of need.
The point is, the Marlins have potentially enough to wiggle out a deal if they were inclined to take back salary on a player that could help bridge to their future. A deal like this would communicate loud and clear to the fans and the rest of the organization, and put the rest of the league on notice, that the Marlins remains serious about contention. A deal like Votto’s would seriously broker the Marlins future payroll flexibility, and perhaps would be too risky at this point to be a realistic possibility. Yet, the spirit of such a deal is precisely what the Fish should be exploring at this juncture as they look to wind down the 2nd half of the season for a potential noisy ending and a push towards a much more positive future.