The Miami Marlins made a few minor moves yesterday, effecting everything from outfield depth to the fate of some fan favorite players. Along with signing infielder Donnie Murphy for 2012, the team traded pitcher Burke Badenhop to the Rays, and signed free agent outfielder Aaron Rowand to a minor league deal.
Badenhop to the Rays
Let’s start things out with the Burdenhop trade. The long relief pitcher was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for catcher Jake Jefferies. Badenhop was the final remaining piece of the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio de la Cruz, and Dallas Trahern. While the Marlins seemed to have made a great decision at the time of the deal. Outfielder Maybin was drafted number five overall in 2005, and the lefty pitcher Miller was chosen sixth overall in 2006.
Badenhop had thrown 250 innings for the Marlins since 2008, with an ERA of 4.34. Despite an ERA uptick between 2010 and 2011, the Hopper increased his strikeout rate from 6.3 to a career best 7.2 per nine innings between the two seasons. He also threw a career high ground ball rate of 58.5%. Jake Jefferies, the catcher that the Marlins received from the Rays, was drafted with high hopes in 2008. He has since struggled, hitting only .238/.327/.610 between A+ and AA in 2011. At this point, any hopes of making it to the big leagues seem like a stretch.
Badenhop earned $750,000 in 2011, and because his arbitration eligibility would have earned him a raise, Badenhop’s trade might come off as another iteration of traditional Marlins cost cutting.
Donnie “bleeping” Murphy returns
The Marlins avoided arbitration by signing the utility infielder to a one year deal for 2012, although the details of have yet to come out. Murphy has played in only 65 games for the Fish the past two seasons, mostly as a pinch hitter and when needed to fill in in the infield. After becoming a fan favorite in 2010 for a string of walk off at bats, he suffered a right wrist injury in 2011 that sidelined him for most of the year. He hit a measly .228/.274/.441 over those 65 appearances, but a small deal should certainly be worth it to keep a near replacement level player in a system desperate for depth at every position. With Emilio Bonifacio seeming to have locked up the starting job in center field, and barring immediate success by Matt Dominguez or a re-signing of Greg Dobbs, Murphy figures to be a go-to player should either Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, or Omar Infante go down due to injury.
Finally, the Marlins also announced that they had signed outfielder Aaron Rowand to a minor league deal. The utility outfielder was released from the San Francisco Giants, despite being owed $12 million in 2011 at the back end of a five year, $60 million deal. Should Rowand make the major league roster, the Marlins will only owe him the minimum $480,000 of that $12 million.
Rowand was released from his contract with the Giants for a reason. Age seems to have caught up with the 34 year old veteran. A few years after an All Star performance in 2007 with the Phillies, he hit just .233/.274/.347 in 108 games with the Giants. Again, though, the signing of a veteran outfielder at a low cost is probably a necessary one for the Marlins at this point. Despite all their offseason action, the team is still in desperate need of depth at any position. Barring another signing, the only legitimate replacements for an outfield of Logan Morrison, Emilio Bonifacio, and Mike Stanton seem to be Bryan Petersen and possibly Chris Coghlan.
All in all, yesterday brought a small collection of nearly inconsequential deals for the Marlins. Despite the bitterness of trading away the only remnant of the Miguel Cabrera trade, the only item of excitement might be the possibility of a few more Donnie “bleeping” Murphy moments.