Dee Gordon Trade: Marlins Give up too Much for too Little Return


The long suffering Marlins fan has something I like to call PTMTD – post traumatic Marlins trade disorder – whenever the Marlins pull of a trade like they did today when that has the potential to change the team they get flashbacks. To the time we trade Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers and got Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller in return, to the Mike Piazza trade and the events of the 1997-98 offseason. We’re automatically defensive, jittery and our first instinct is to think that the Marlins were somehow swindled by a far cleverer front office than our own.

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While I understand this impulse and believe you me this was my first reaction as well, us Marlins fans need to at least seat down and take a measure look at the trade.  In this case, the trade was one where we got Dee Gordon and Dan Haren and traded for top left-handed pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, infielders Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes as well as relief pitcher Chris Hatcher.

This automatically looks weird because the Marlins are a team who are working on a much smaller payroll than the Dodgers and they traded their prospects who are all under team control for a veteran pitcher who may retire instead of joining the team and Gordon who is entering his arbitration eligibility.  The biggest problem I have with the trade is the Marlins have seemingly given up what could be four legitimate contributors to the Major League in the near future for a speedy middle infielder and maybe an over the hill starter who can’t touch 90 with his fastball anymore

Andrew Heaney was ranked the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball last year and looked dominant in AA with Jacksonville posting a 2.35 ERA, 2.46 FIP and 26% strikeout rate with a 6.6% walk rate while giving a 4.9% HR/FB rate.  His stint with the Marlins was not an unqualified success and he struggled a bit but he still showed signs of the pitcher that he can be in the Majors.  A left-handed starter who can work in the low to mid 90s and effectively control two secondary pitches is rare.  The prospect raters are high on Heaney and it makes sense because he could pan out to be a consistent top of the rotation guy for many years to come. The Marlins willingness to part with such a highly touted prospect is worrying and it suggests that Andrew Friedman duped yet another team.

The Marlins last major trade was with the Astros, the trade deadline deal where we received Jarred Cosart and Kike Hernandez and traded Colin Moran and Jake Marisnick to the Astros.  Cosart looked impressive enough in his with the Marlins last season posting a 2.39 ERA and working effectively at getting ground balls posting the eighth best groundball rate in baseball and 65 FIP-.  Cosart fits perfectly with the kind of pitcher that the Marlins tend to favor at the moment. Guys who pitch to contact and that can use the expansive Marlins park outfield to their advantage.  For Cosart leaving the American League, the AL West and Minute Maid Park made him at least appear to be a better pitcher than he may actually be.

But Kike Hernandez may actually be the far most intriguing part of that trade. At all minor league levels with both Miami and Houston Hernandez slashed .319/.372/.484 with a .165 ISO, and 9.9% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate.   Hernandez may not be one of the most highly touted prospects but his 2014 suggests that he has good plate discipline and possesses very extra base power for a middle infielder. The Marlins could have used Hernandez at many infield positions in 2015 and the following years.  Hernandez may not have a very high ceiling but it seems that he can be a consistent performer in the Major at least a 2 win player.

Austin Barnes is an interesting cases and will probably dividends for the Dodgers. Hatcher had a breakout year in 2014 with 3.38 ERA, 25.9% strikeout rate and 5.2% walk rate couple with a 7.7% HR/FB rate. He was one of the most consistent performers out of the Marlins bullpen in the second half of the season and handled all kinds of situations with aplomb.

Barnes who split time between High A Jupiter and AA Jacksonville slashed .302/.396/.470 with 13 HR and .168 ISO at levels.  His plate discipline is even more impressive Barnes walked more than he struck out in 2014 and compiled a 12.6% walk rate.

The Marlins gave up a lot of talent to get only potentially Dee Gordon who did have a breakout year in 2014.  Gordon led the Majors in both triples and stolen bases in 2014. While slashing .289/.326/.378 and accumulating a .312 wOBA and 101 OPS+.  Gordon’s breakout season netted him a 3.1 WAR which was the tenth best mark amongst qualified second baseman last year ranking ahead of Daniel Murphy and behind Neil Walker.  In the field both UZR and DRS don’t rate him well, Gordon scores negatively in both metrics.  Gordon is a speed merchant and had a great year last year the odds are that he’ll regress thanks to an inflated BABIP. The Marlins problem is that they fixate on players who have impressive tools like Gordon’s speed and neglect to holistically analyze the player.  There is a limit to how well a one-dimensional player can do and the Marlins traded two amazingly talented multidimensional prospects Barnes and Hernandez to the Dodgers while receiving a one tool wonder.

To cap off the irony the Marlins traded Heaney and a bunch of other good prospects to the Dodgers who turned around and traded Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.

Andrew Friedman turned Dee Gordon into the much superior Howie Kendrick thanks to the Marlins front office. If the world was fair (and it isn’t) the Marlins would have just made the Kendrick deal without having to hand the Dodgers some of our best prospects.

Sadly unless the Marlins make some more deals in the near future I don’t think there is any way to put a positive spin on this trade. I actually liked the Astros trade and the Blue Jays deal turned to be an immensely smart baseball move.  This trade though smells of those old-fashioned one-sided Marlins trades we may not have given up anyone as good as Miguel Cabrera but it ultimately feels like we still gave up much too much to only get Dee Gordon in return.

Next: Marlins/Dodgers Swap Andrew Heaney/Dee Gordon