Firmly planted in the shadows of the division-leading Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, the writing appears to be on the wall for the 2014 Miami Marlins. It has been a great run, and with their 45-52 record the team has, without question, greatly exceeded the meager expectations virtually everyone pinned upon them before the season began.
But the Marlins now find themselves eight games behind the National League East leaders and 8.5 games out of Wild Card contention. The team has insisted they will be trade deadline “buyers,” believing they had a postseason run in them yet. Then, they dropped six straight games sandwiched around last week’s All-Star break, and the inevitable chatter about the team changing directions to better prepare for the future finally surfaced over the weekend.
If the Marlins are, indeed, “sellers” at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, their most coveted piece not named Giancarlo Stanton will easily be side-winding closer Steve Cishek. Numerous teams across baseball are in need of bullpen help — as is the case every season — and Cishek may be the most attractive arm on the market now that Huston Street has been dealt by the San Diego Padres.
Cishek owns a 3.57 ERA and a terrific 2.18 FIP in 42 games this season, in which he has converted 21 of 24 save opportunities.
The 28 year-old is arbitration-eligible next season and is making $3.8 million in 2014 thanks to his Super 2 status. That renders him the third-highest paid player in a Marlins organization that annually posts some of the lowest payrolls in baseball, and with the team on the brink of waving the white flag in 2014 they just may ultimately cut ties with Cishek in the next ten days when they should receive a decent haul in return.
The Marlins do find themselves in a favorable position with myriad minor league pitching depth, so what if they pushed to acquire the offensive help they so desperately need moving forward?
Should Miami trade Cishek, here are a few potential partners you might keep an eye on: