Be a GM: Miami Marlins - Part 3.5
Before the Trade Deadline
In my previous post Be a GM: Miami Marlins - Part 3 - Trade Deadline, I examined trade opportunities for Marlins Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, as well as reliever Chad Qualls. The Marlins received interest from Stanton, and their crop of relievers, but were ultimately quiet at the deadline, as were many other clubs.
In my previous post I said "For me, the Pirates would have to part with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon at least". The general reaction was that this would be an awful deal for Pittsburgh, but I defended it by saying that it's the type of deal it would take to deal Stanton while he still has 3 years under team control. According to a report surfacing this morning on FishStripes, referencing an article on Marlin Maniac yesterday, the two young power arms were part of the deal. However, this contradicts what Miami-Herald writer Clark Spencer reported at the July 31st trade deadline, so it's still in the air. The reported deal is as follows:
OF Giancarlo Stanton - 23 y.o. - MLB - .245/ .364/ .466, 13 HR, 34 RBI - 68 G (15.2 BB%, 25.6 K%)
RP Steve Cishek 27 y.o. - MLB - 23/25 SV/O, 3.08 ERA, 23.9 K%, 8.3 BB% - 49.2 IP
OF Justin Ruggiano - 31 y.o. - MLB - .200/ .278/ .365, 12 HR, 32 RBI - 86 G (8.5 BB%, 24.3 K%)
SP Gerrit Cole - 22 y.o. - MLB - 5-5, 10 GS, 3.69 ERA, 17.6 K%, 5.7 BB% - 61.0 IP
OF Starling Marte - 24 y.o. - MLB - .279/ .335/ .442, 32 SB, 10 HR, 30 RBI - 108 G (4.0 BB%, 23.4 K%)
SP Jameson Taillon - 21 y.o. - AA/AAA - 4-8, 20 GS, 3.75 ERA, 22.2 K%, 7.8 BB% - 115.1 IP
1B Stetson Allie - 22 y.o. - A/A+ - .291/ .389/ .514, 19 HR, 75 RBI - 107 G (13.2 BB%, 29.2 K%)
The Marlins would give up their star outfielder, and closer, who are both first-time arbitration eligible this off-season with multiple remaining years under team control, along with a reserve outfielder who isn't arbitration eligible for another year. In return, the Pirates offer their #1,2, and 4 prospects from 2012 according to Baseball America, with two of them in the Major Leagues this season, along with a minor league converted 1B, who was their #9 prospect as a pitcher in 2012.
I was initially blown away by this offer when I saw the names that the Pirates were going to part with. But then as I looked into them, I realized that I was victim to "being used to" Giancarlo Stanton. His name isn't as eye-popping as Cole, Taillon, and Marte because I see and hear about Stanton on a day-by-day basis. This is something I'll keep an eye out to not let affect me anymore.
Cole, along with the Marlins' Jose Fernandez, Mets' Matt Harvey, Cardinals' Shelby Miller, etc. is widely considered as one of the top rising pitchers in the game. Once Taillon, who just made his first start since being called up to AAA, gets the call to the MLB, he will join this company. Starling Marte is a highly regarded outfielder as well with plus speed and defense. Stetson Allie was a two-way player in High School, and was drafted by the Pirates as a pitcher. However, after struggling through parts of two years, he converted to 1B and is making his way up the system. Cole and Marte are both not arbitration-eligible until after the 2015 season, with Cole making his debut this year (likely "Super Two"), and Marte at the end of last year. Taillon and Allie both have yet to start their Major League Service clock.
Gerrit Cole has been effective through 10 starts in the majors, but his decline in K% is a concern. He's averaged 25% Strikeouts through 2012 in the minors. This fell to 17.5% in AAA this year, and consistently leveled at 17.6% through his 10 major league starts. There's no way to know if this is a decline, or a fluctuation, but it's not something that makes you feel ready to go all in for him. Jameson Taillon has a career 21.9 K% in his minor league career. Cole looks to have a slightly better outlook than Taillon, but both profile as top of the rotation starters.
Marte hit for a high average in lower level minor league ball with average power. He's a speedy outfielder with a strong arm, although he has a consistently low walk rate, and a higher than ideal strikeout rate. Stetson Allie was a highly touted two way athlete who converted to being a position player in 2012 due to major control issues on the mound. Allie tore it up in A this year (.324/ .414/ .607) during 66 game, but has struggled to produce in 41 games of A+ ball (.238/ .348/ .364).
The Marlins would receive what would largely be referred to as a huge package in return for Stanton, Cishek, and Ruggiano. However, the problem I had in dealing with the Pirates, is that they aren't loaded with prospects in areas that the Marlins need. The Marlins minor league system is loaded with Starting Pitching. While Cole would fit into the current rotation right behind Jose Fernandez, him and Taillon add to the loackjam that already exists in the Marlins starting rotation 1-2 years down the road. The Marlins would have in alphabetical order: Hederson Alvarez, Adam Conley, Gerrit Cole, Nate Eovaldi, Brian Flynn, Jose Fernandez, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Jameson Taillon, and Jacob Turner. Possibly also lower level prospects Anthony DeSclafani, Angel Sanchez, acquired in the Nolasco trade, and Jose Urena who are a little farther away. But from the list ranging from Alvarez to Turner, how do you pick five guys from that? Even so, is losing Stanton, Cishek, and Ruggiano worth the improvement from the #6-7 guys on the list to Cole and Taillon? Also, with Alvarez, Eovaldi, Fernandez, and Turner already in the rotation, which one of them do you bump? You already have four current guys on the list in the Marlins system battling for that last spot. There's an old adage that you can never have enough good pitching, but for what the Marlins are giving up on offense, the large majority of the return being pitching doesn't make sense.
Starling Marte is the next top prospect in this trade. As an outfielder, he steps into a position where the Marlins are also loaded with talent. Marcell Ozuna is a nice power bat who was recently sent down before undergoing season ending surgery, and the Marlins just called up their #1 and #2 prospects, outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. The Marlins have other lower level outfield prospects in their system, but this presents the same question as the pitching rotation. Which of the three do you kick out for Marte?
Stetson Allie is the lowest level prospect of the bunch, and he could very well become a great 1B, but it's hard to put your future at the position in a guy who is a converted pitcher. Also, the Marlins currently have Logan Morrison at 1B who has had a nice season since coming back from injury (.279/ .365/ .457).
This also leaves an opening at the back of the Marlins bullpen. Steve Cishek has been phenomenal as the Marlins closer this season, converting his last 18 saves in a row, dating back to June 8th. In my opinion there's a fine line between undervaluing and overvaluing closers. Yes, they only pitch one inning, but consistency in the 9th inning is hard to come by. The Marlins knew all about closer problems in 2012. Speaking of Giancarlo Stanton. For the time being, the front runners for the closer job would probably be Steve Ames, who the Marlins acquired in the Ricky Nolasco trade and has minor league closing experience, or AJ Ramos, who has a high K%, but also a high BB%. Earlier in the season, he was almost guaranteed to give up a Home Run every appearance, but that trend has subsided. Colby Suggs, who the Marlins drafted with their second competitive balance draft pick in this year's draft, projects to be a major league closer as well. Suggs is currently at A+ Jupiter.
The Pirates offered a huge return to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. Ignoring everything else, it's a deal that I would most likely pull the trigger on. However, this is not the right move for the Marlins. The Marlins would add the level of prospects necessary to trade Stanton at this time, but not at the right positions. Trading Giancarlo Stanton should leave you with no major holes left to fill, but by losing Steve Cishek and adding on in already rich places, the Marlins would actually be creating a hole in their bullpen while not patching up any other areas. It's hard to say no to Cole and Taillon, but this isn't the right move for the franchise.
I agree with Marlins management in Declining this reported trade offer
The Marlins want to negotiate a long-term deal with Stanton, and he would maintain the same trade value, if not more in the off-season. The offers will keep rolling in for Stanton, and the Marlins will hold off until they receive one that provides them a comparable return to this trade, but in areas where they need improvement. I would keep Stanton through the Off-Season unless contract negotiations get hostile and he has to be moved, but I'd like to think that won't happen. This trade featured huge names, but Marlins management ultimately made the right decision in holding on to Giancarlo.
EDIT: Turns out, as I feared, that this was a false rumor. Well, it was fun while it lasted.