By now, most of you have heard that the Atlanta Braves have inked slugger Freddie Freeman to an 8 year extension worth 135 million dollars. There is obviously the most apparent implication that Miami will now look forward to seeing Freeman in a Braves uniform for quite some time. Freeman has been a thorn in the Marlins side since 2011 when he took over the starting job at first base. He routinely gets big hits, and that is something that the Marlins will look to limit moving forward.
But this is not about the direct impact that the Freddie Freeman signing will have on the Marlins, rather it is about how this signing could cause the Marlins to not get much value on the trade market this season. While the Braves payroll routinely doubles the Marlins each year, they still have a budget that they routinely stay under. This signing means that they will likely not have room to sign some of their other upcoming free agents, for instance closer Craig Kimbrel.
No closer in baseball has been as effective as Kimbrel has been over the last couple of years. He has been lights out, and is expected to earn between 7 and 9 million dollars this year through arbitration. If he re-enters arbitration next year, that number could jump closer to 15 million.
In Buster Olney’s blog (subscription required) he points out the increased likelihood that the Braves will be trading Kimbrel this offseason.
Kimbrel’s trade value will never be higher than it will be before this year’s deadline, and the Braves have other relievers who could step into the closer’s role and at least be OK. History has shown that the best time to trade relievers is during the regular season, rather than in the offseason.
Now we get to talk about how this impacts the Marlins. You see, prior to this signing, Miami had the top closer on the market that could be traded moving into this season. Steve Cishek has been very, very good over the last year and a half. The Marlins have depth in the bullpen, particularly the back-end of it, with Carter Capps and A.J. Ramos both capable of taking over the closer role.
Unfortunately for Miami, if Kimbrel is on the market, that is who teams are going to focus on. Usually, there are not many teams that are in the playoff race in mid-summer that are desperately seeking a closer. Kimbrel will likely eliminate one of those teams.
I am not saying that Miami should trade Cishek. Merely that if they were planning on moving him this summer, he may not bring quite the return that we would all hope for.