The Miami Marlins started the 2011 off season with a loud bang. The Marlins went on a spending spree, spending $191 million dollars on three of the top free agents.
The Marlins signed Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle right before and during the winter meetings. During the Winter Meetings, the Marlins also made strong runs at Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, before they signed with the Los Angeles Angels. Since the winter meetings, the Marlins have gone into hibernation mode.
Currently, I do not view the Marlins as good enough to be competing with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Washington Nationals would surpass the Marlins if they were to add Prince Fielder. In my estimation, the Marlins are about eqivelent to the Atlanta Braves and Nationals if both teams stay the course with their current rosters.
So what is next for the Marlins? Do they pursue Yoenis Cespedes? Do the Marlins try to sign Edwin Jackson or Roy Oswalt? Or do the Marlins try to make a trade for Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, or Wade Davis? Which move makes the most sense for the Marlins going forward?
The $60 million man?
Yoenis Cespedes is expecting to gain his Dominican Republic residency within the next few days. Once he does, Major League Baseball will declare him a free agent and the bidding can begin. Once Cespedes is cleared to be a free agent, the bidding for his services are expected to explode. Some scouts speculate that Cespedes could earn double what fellow Cuban native Aroldis Chapman got. Chapman signed a $30 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds.
There are varying reports of what the Marlins interest in the Cuban sensation are. Danny Knobler is reporting that the Marlins front office is divided on whether the team wants to make a run at Cespedes. However, Nick Cafardo is reporting that the “Marlins are very aggressive” on Cespedes.
Only time will tell what the Marlins do. Cespedes is likely to hit the open market sometime next month and there is expected to be at least six teams in on him. Cespedes, depending on the money, would be a good fit on the Marlins, especially if the Nationals go land Fielder.
Let us start off with the biggest free agent out there, Prince Fielder. The Marlins have no interest in the slugging first baseman. Fielder is reportedly looking for a contract similar to the one that Albert Pujols signed with the Angels, at 10-years $254M. There are even reports out there that Scott Boras, Fielder’s agent, will try to get Fielder a higher AAV then Pujols. The Marlins barley crossed $200 million on their offer for Pujols, and are unlikely to go anywhere near that for Fielder. With Scott Boras as the agent, expect Fielder to get the contract that he is seeking.
Another Boras agent should be of interest to the Marlins. The Marlins have not been linked to free agent Edwin Jackson yet. Jackson is a decent pitcher that would certainly help the Marlins rotation in 2012 and beyond. Jackson is 28 years old and would be solid throughout a 4-year contract that he is likely seeking. I will have more tomorrow on why the Marlins should be making a run at Jackson tomorrow.
The Marlins are still digging free agency for starting pitching. Some names of interest for the Marlins include Joe Saunders and Roy Oswalt. Another name that I feel the Marlins should keep an eye on is Paul Maholm.
Roy Oswalt is coming off a season which he dealt with back issues and totaled only 139 innings and 23 starts, his lowest totals since 2003. When Oswalt was healthy though, he was his usual solid self. Oswalt is good for 200 innings and 30 starts a season with decent numbers. This is something the Marlins rotation will require if they want to keep pace with the Philadelphia Phillies rotation.
Oswalt was right at his walk rate in his career in 2011. Oswalt’s strikeout rate lowered, but that could possibly be connected with his back issues last season. Both Fangraphs fan projections and Bill James projections have Oswalt having a very similar 2012 season. That is good news for the Marlins if they are looking into signing Oswalt. According to Fangraphs, Oswalt was valued at $11 million. With the information now known that Oswalt is seeking a one-year deal, the Marlins would be wise to make Oswalt a contract offer of 1-year $12-15 million with a full-no trade clause, similar to what they gave to Javier Vazquez last winter.
Joe Saunders is another name the Marlins have been linked to. Joe Frisaro, the Marlins MLB site beat writer, does not believe in the Marlins interest in Saunders. I sure hope he is right, as Saunders would not provide the Marlins any upgrade to their current rotation.
Neither pitcher has much to brag about statistic wise. Saunders has been pitching three more seasons then Volstad and barley held much more value then him. Saunders is going to be 31 in June next season while Volstad will be 25 next season. Saunders is reportedly looking for a 1-year deal worth $7 million. The Marlins would be better off going to arbitration and paying Volstad about $2 million or paying a little bit extra to sign Oswalt.
Paul Maholm is not a special pitcher by no means either. However, he is another lefty option if the Marlins are interested in adding that to their rotation. He is certain to earn less then Saunders next season as well. Maholm will also be looking to rebuilt his value entering his age 30 season. He is another option for the Marlins to explore adding to their rotation.
Another route the Marlins can go to acquire a starting pitcher is to visit the trade market. The Marlins already struck out on Gio Gonzalez, as they did not have the prospects to match up with the Oakland Athletics. That should also eliminate the Marlins from any chance of trying to acquire Matt Garza. Garza would require the Marlins sending a large package of prospects to the Chicago Cubs for Garza.
That does not eliminate the Marlins making the Cubs a potential trade partner. The Marlins are rumored to have interest in Carlos Zambrano. Personally, I think this should be a last resort for the Marlins. Zambrano has a ton of issues and his numbers seem to be on the decline. In order for a trade to be worked out for Zambrano, the Marlins would need the Cubs to eat a majority of the contract. Once again, if the Marlins fail in adding another starter, they should go ahead and start the season with the current rotation. If Volstad struggles again or Josh Johnson goes down with another injury, the Marlins should then revisit talks with the Cubs on Zambrano. Otherwise, this move does not make a lot of sense for the Marlins.
Wandy Rodriguez is a pitcher that has always intrigued me for some reason. Rodriguez has a big contract and if the Marlins were willing to take on his whole contract, they might be able to get away with giving up less prospect wise for him. Rodriguez would be a solid lefty to add to the Marlins rotation. Rodriguez actually has a similar skill set to two other pitchers the Marlins have had interest in earlier this off season.
Of the three pitchers, C.J. Wilson is clearly the best. Rodriguez and Gonzalez are about even. Gio Gonzalez is younger and right now is under team control, so his cost prospect wise was a lot more. Rodriguez has a big contract that the Houston Astros are attempting to rid themselves of, therefore he would cost the Marlins less.
The last name that has been mentioned as a possibility for the Marlins is Wade Davis. A quick look at Davis’ numbers show nothing more then Volstad numbers. I will have a post on Saturday comparing the two pitchers and trying to figure out why two pitchers with similar numbers and skill sets have such drastic differences in trade value.
Tags: Albert Pujols Aroldis Chapman Atlanta Braves C.J. Wilson Carlos Zambrano Chicago Cubs Cincinnati Reds Edwin Jackson Gio Gonzalez Heath Bell Jose Reyes Josh Johnson Los Angeles Angels Mark Buehlre Matt Garza Miami Marlins Paul Maholm Philadelphia Phillies Prince Fielder Roy Oswalt Wade Davis Wandy Rodriguez Yoennis Cespedes