Jose Fernandez is not expected to be back on the mound for the Miami Marlins till June, at the earliest, as he recovers from his off-season Tommy John surgery. For that reason, the team has sought a front-line starter to add to their rotation to help their young rotation out. The team has shown zero interest in top 2 free agent starters like Jon Lester and Matt Scherzer and are likely priced out of the James Shields sweepstakes. The best route for the Marlins to acquire a starting pitcher may be through the trade market. According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Johnny Cueto might be a starting pitcher that the Marlins may try to acquire, via trade.
"▪ The Marlins are believed to be interested in a couple of pitchers who could be on the trading block — the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jimenez and Reds’ Johnny Cueto — as well as a few free-agent hurlers, including Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana."
Cueto, who is in the final year of his contract, finished as the runner up in the NL CY Young voting that was announced last night. Cueto is set to make $10 million this upcoming season, which could be a reasonable salary the Marlins can fit into their budget, if they were to somehow move Garrett Jones.
Cueto threw a career high of 243 2/3 innings last season, which would have been a major boost to the Marlins rotation. His 2.25 ERA was second to Clayton Kershaw in the NL. The Reds defense behind him as well as his .238 BABIP and 82% LOB% proved to help Cueto’s numbers along a bit, as his FIP was a less impressive 3.30. For comparisons sake, Nathan Eovaldi finished with a 3.37 FIP. Trading for Cueto will not be easy, as the Reds will likely be seeking a big return.
If I’m the Marlins, I’d put Andrew Heaney on the table in a potential Cueto deal, but not much else. He’s only under contract for one more season and that should bring his trade value down a bit. However, if the Marlins are granted a window to try and extend Cueto and are successful, the team could give up more.
In the end, I don’t believe the Reds end up trading Cueto nor do I see the Marlins giving up Heaney for a one-year rental. So this rumor is probably more smoke than fire.