Miami traded Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck and got three major-league ready players and four prospects, a fair amount of quantity, but what about the quality?
The first thing to note when considering these type of mega-deals is that prospects don’t always turn out to be stars or even major leaguers, even the top ones. Trading your star players for a package of minor-league prospects is no guarantee that your farm system has been stocked for the future.
If any team knows this, it’s the Marlins.
In 2007, the Marlins dealt Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera to Detroit for Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin, who were two of the Tigers’ can’t-miss prospects, along with Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz, and Mike Rabelo.
In honor of Mr. De La Cruz, we can say the eulogy for that trade has been delivered.
Detroit got the first Triple Crown winner in a generation, which more than made up for Willis failing to live up to his potential. Maybin is a decent outfielder now for the Padres, Miller never lived up to his hype and became a journeyman reliever along with Badenhop, and the others were never heard from again.
So the Marlins gave up an MVP and got nobody who ever really helped them on the field.
There are cases that go the other way too as also in 2007,Texas got Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones for Mark Teixeira. Harrison, Feliz, and Andrus helped the Rangers reach a couple World Series and Saltalamacchia is a reliable starting catcher with good power.
So as we try to figure out if Miami’s deal with go to either of those extremes, here is a look at who the Marlins got from Toronto to see if they got enough for what they gave up.
I’m going to mostly skip over him because he’s basically a cheap fill-in for Jose Reyes and as a replacement, he’s replacement-level. He’ll hit .275 with a handful of homers and drive in very few runs in Miami’s scaled-down line-up. Yunel Escobar is certainly nothing for fantasy baseball players to get excited about.
We’re 0-2, because Jeff Mathis is another guy to skip. To be fair, he would have been an exciting acquisition about 10 years ago after being drafted in the first round by Anaheim. Now he’s a 29-yard old who has spent the last eight years as a back-up catcher with a career batting average of, get this, .198 in more than 1,400 at-bats. He is coming off his best major-league season when hit hit .218 with eight homers in 71 games.
He’s 22 and has spent parts of two seasons in the majors, so that is something, but his past performance is a lot of nothing. A .500 pitcher with an ERA over 4.00 in parts of four minor-league seasons, he’s flashed potential but nothing that looks very exciting. A 3.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2011 for the Blue Jays was followed by a 4.85 ERA in 31 starts last season. Henderson Alvarez will be a mid-rotation starter for the Marlins just because he has too, but he too is nobody to target in fantasy.
Now we get to the prospects, the guys who better pan out for Miami to not look like it got robbed once again in a multi-player deal.
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound 21-year-old outfielder has been on the rise since being drafted in the third round in 2009. Jake Marisnick became a hot prospect in 2011 when he hit .320 with 14 homers in Class A, but hit .233 with two homers in 55 games in Double-A this year. He’s got to start out back in Double-A this year and looks like he won’t arrive in Miami until 2015 at the earliest.
The 23-year-old shortstop is a defensive whiz who has developed a bat to go with his defensive skills. Adeiny Hechavarria hit .389 in 25 games at Triple-A in 2011 and returned to Las Vegas last year to hit .312. His defense and batting average are enough to make him a solid shortstop, but you’d like to see more than eight stolen bases in 102 games last year because he also doesn’t bring much power.
The 6-foot-3 lefty turns 21 next week and has looked good in two minor-league seasons after being drafted in the second round. He was a combined 6-2 with a 1.33 ERA in two Class A stops in 2011 and then went 10-4 with a 2.46 ERA at Lansing of the Class A Midwest League last year. He becomes one of Miami’s top prospects, although it is probably 2015 or 2016 before we see Justin Nicolino in the majors.
A teammate of Nicolino in Lansing last year during his first pro season, the 22-year old 6-foot-2 right-hander was 11-3 with a 3.37 ERA with the Lugnuts. Anthony DeSclafani is on a similar path with Nicolino. We can expect him arrive in Miami in about three years.
As you look at what Miami got, you realize this trade was not about being competitive in the next year or two. Escobar and Mathis will take roster spots right away and Alvarez and Hechavarria could be with the Marlins on Opening Day, but it will be 2015 or 2016 before the Marlins hope to see most of the prospects arrive.
Combined with the deals Miami got for Heath Bell, Hanley Ramirez, and the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante deal, the Marlins are piecing together a list of prospects that could start steadily arriving this year and continue for a few years.
Here’s a look at a possible 2016 lineup for the Marlins that would be filled with guys they acquired in the past few months along with some of their other top prospects including Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez.
C: Rob Brantly
1B: Logan Morrison
2B: Donovan Solano
SS: Adeiny Hechavarria
3B: Yordy Cabrera