The Marlins’ season has been chronicled by disappointment due to wholesale underperformance. Miami cemented its status as a “seller” today with its trade of Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit, in exchange for Top Prospect and 2009 number 9 overall selection Jacob Turner, a potential serviceable catcher in Rob Brantly, and a developing pitching prospect in Brian Flynn. The teams will also swap their picks that they were each respectively awarded in the First Annual Competitive Balance Draft Lottery.
With a top heavy but weak overall minor league system, the Marlins had little depth to supplement their roster. Turner, ranked number 9 by MLB among all of baseball’s top 100 prospects, was acquired as a future top of the rotation starter. With relatively little service time, he will be controllable through 2018. Despite having a 98 mile per hour fastball and being previously labeled as “untouchable,” Turner does not come without concern; he previously suffered a shoulder injury in spring training and it seems he does not have dominant strikeout ability, considering he only struck out 40 in 62.2 innings at Triple A Toledo.
Rob Brantly is a 23 year old Major League-ready catcher. While not having legitimate power numbers in the minors, he has historically hit for a high average. The Marlins organization has had a dire need for catching in light of John Buck‘s struggles and Kyle Skipworth‘s status as a first round bust.
This trade makes sense as the Marlins had not begun to approach Anibal Sanchez regarding an extension. It looked unlikely that he would have returned next season.
We can assume that Anibal will do well in free agency, and it would have been difficult for the Marlins to meet or top generous offers on the open market. Free agency, being the most inefficient means of player acquisition, leads to many starting pitchers to being overpaid and signed for years longer than what most teams are comfortable with. With that being said, if the Marlins wanted Sanchez to return, they would have made a legitimate effort to extend him by now. As such, it made the most sense to package him for a high upside prospect such as Jacob Turner.
Detroit, having just regained first place in the American League Central, is going all in this season. Thus, it was willing to deal a pitcher rated as highly as Turner. With the exception of Justin Verlander, the Tigers rotation has generally struggled. As such, it made sense to add a quality pitcher such as Sanchez even if he is three months away from free agency. Detroit’s second base platoon has struggled this season, and Infante provides a quality bat and Gold Glove caliber defense in addition to being signed for only $4 million next year. As such, the Tigers greatly improved their team for its push into October.
A quality starter, Anibal is a valuable piece to any starting rotation. Middle to top of the rotation innings eaters are difficult to come by and keep at a low cost. While Infante arguably was the Marlins most consistent player and was signed for next season, it most likely was his inclusion in the deal that awarded Miami such a highly ranked prospect. Without his inclusion in the deal, when considering a team’s unwillingness to part with top prospects, Miami only would have received B and C ranked players in return for Anibal.
At this point, this deal should be considered a success for both teams as Detroit improved its chances for a playoff run and Miami added a young, controllable top prospect to its ranks in addition to 2 quality prospects in Brantly and Flynn, who meet an organizational need.