Baseball fans woke up this this morning expecting Happy Easter mass texts from mom, the Astros/Rangers season opener tonight, and perhaps looked forward to their favorite team playing tomorrow. On top of this excitement, the Marlins made headlines sending two pitchers to the DL, and calling up super-prospect Jose Fernandez.
At least one of those questions was answered, with Larry Beinfest stating Fernandez will stick with the team the whole year, with a 150-170 innings limit.
While many are confident that Fernandez can hold his own in the majors, the problem is starting Fernandez’s service clock so early. This problem is magnified by the Miami front-office’s history of indifference towards keeping its players for more than three years, and winning game. All the elements are in place for losing out on a chunk of Fernandez’s career.
Starting Fernandez’s clock now puts his arbitration eligibility at 2016, and his free-agency opportunity at 2019. By 2016, Fernandez will only be 23 years old, with his best years ahead of him. Compare that to Clayton Kershaw, who will easily require $200m+ after this year. It’s impossible to forecast how competitive the Marlins will be in those years, but if Fernandez turns into the pitcher scouts have expected since his defection, his price will be exceptionally high, especially for a team in the cellar.
Sadly, considering the Marlins ownership, it may not even matter how good the team is when his payday comes.
The move of burning a year of service time for a rushed prospect is short-sighted and questionable for any team. Listing the past players traded or let go before payday would be a tedious and unnecessary task, but Marlins fans have seen this movie before. A big talent at only 20 years old, combined with the Marlins history of not locking up young talent and not committing to a winning franchise, the call up could be the beginning of the end for Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlin.
(Expert photo edit work by yours truly.)