In a move quite similar to the one pulled two seasons ago for reliever Arthur Rhodes, the Marlins dealt starter prospect Rick VandenHurk to the Baltimore Orioles for lefty reliever Will Ohman. Let’s cut to the chase and ask what this move will do for the Marlins.
What we give up
The Marlins officially gave up VandenHurk today, but it seems as if they had given up on Hurk for some time now.
Following a solid 82-inning performance in 2009 during which VandenHurk showed a changed approach and significantly better control than in previous seasons, the Marlins still passed him up for the fifth rotation spot. Despite a lack of great options at the fifth starter position, the Marlins decided to acquire an outside option in (what appears now to be a washed-up) veteran Nate Robertson rather than hand the position to one of the incumbent players. Of the incumbents, both VandenHurk and Andrew Miller were the oldest, and thus the most likely to be given up on by the Fish.
The Orioles should get an interesting pitcher, however. Hurk still has his fly ball/home run issues, but could have significantly improved his previous control problems by moving to the slider. The O’s have a stacked future rotation lined up, led by the trio of Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Jake Arrieta. However, VandenHurk still has plenty of service time remaining (five years of service time) and may be worth a gamble in return for a one-shot reliever signed in the offseason.
What we got
Ohman is as middle-of-the-road a reliever as you can find. There once was a time when he was a bit better than that, but right now is not that time. Going forward, ZiPS projects a 4.76 FIP (5.14 ERA), which isn’t all that great for a reliever. PECOTA projects an equally poor 4.85 FIP (5.21 ERA). Ohman apparently hasn’t pitched as poorly as his projection suggests, as his 4.40 xFIP and 4.26 SIERA suggest a passable, if not mediocre reliever.
For the interim, the trade is probably a wash, given that the Marlins could use a lefty reliever out of the pen. Still, you have to figure this move was made in order to push for the playoffs, a hope that the Marlins do not really have. VandenHurk was not a huge part of the future of the organization, and neither will Ohman, but Ohman has a more immediate impact on the team’s present. The question is whether that present is going to matter enough to make this move, and I don’t think it will.