Hot Stove Chatter: The Deal That Gets It Done For The Miami Marlins
By Billy Brost
By now, everyone who follows the Miami Marlins knows that the team is in full pursuit of an upgrade at first base. I guess for $5 million bucks, 15 bombs and 53 RBI isn’t enough. Not that Garrett Jones didn’t practically do the same thing the season prior, but that’s for another discussion. If Jones isn’t the answer at first base, and the target is squarely on Colorado Rockies’ first baseman Justin Morneau, let’s focus on that and figure out what it will take to get this deal done.
This we do know, coming from Colorado would be Morneau, his clubhouse presence and his ability to hit the baseball hard, as evidenced by his .309/.475/.839 triple slash line on the road last season. Many believe that Morneau’s career resurgence is the result of playing in Coors Field, but the aforementioned numbers prove otherwise. He’s the centerpiece, but he is going to be 34 in May, and his best years are behind him. So what piece coming from the Rockies and what is leaving Miami is going to be the make-or-break portions of the trade.
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Let’s start on the Miami side of the deal. Nathan Eovaldi will most likely be the big piece involved in any deal the Marlins make in pursuit of a first baseman via the trade market. There has been speculation that the Marlins cannot deal Eovaldi if Dan Haren decides to retire. That is flawed thinking. Eovaldi will be the reason the Rockies part with the 2014 NL Batting Champion and more. We’ll get back to Eovaldi’s replacement in a moment. The soon-to-be 25-year-old righty won’t be enough to get the deal done, so the Marlins are going to have to add additional pieces.
For starters, the Rockies are going to need a replacement for Morneau, one that isn’t expensive. Garrett Jones anyone? Sure, he only hit .246 last season, but he did go for 15 bombs in each of the past two seasons, and comes in at the very affordable $5 mil per rate for 2015. So that is two pieces for the Marlins so far, and still for Colorado, we’ve only got Morneau. Let’s finish the Marlins side of the house and get this deal done.
The final piece for the Marlins that is going to not only secure them a desirable upgrade at first base, but will also provide a solid piece for the future that I’ll talk about shortly, is saying good-bye to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I know, he only hit. 220 with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. Now think about how well he could hit with half of his games being played at Coors, AND the defensive upgrade he provides the Rockies over Willin Rosario. The cherry on top is the affordable final season of his current deal at $8 million. So Jones and Salty, for a combined $13 million, and a young power arm in Eovaldi, who would immediately move into the Rockies’ rotation, isn’t arbitration-eligible for the FIRST time until after next season, and isn’t free agent-eligible until 2018. Did I mention he’s made barely $1 mil during his big league career?
So what about the other piece from Colorado who would come to Miami with Morneau? The Marlins can’t give away all of that for just Morneau can they? Absolutely not. The Marlins in return, will get a future catcher to help replenish the catchers lost last week. His name is Tom Murphy. He is a 23-year-old backstop, who hits for power…and ranks out at: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45 per MLB.com. He’s currently at the Double-A level, but is slated to make his big league debut some time in 2015. While the batting average isn’t much to be desired, his defensive skills and power make up for it.
There you have it. A three-for-two deal that gets the Marlins immediate help at first base, and the future at catcher. Sure, it hurts to lose Eovaldi, but the money saved on dealing Jones and Salty allows the Fish to make other small moves, such as a possible end of the rotation starter to replace Eovaldi if Haren retires. The Marlins don’t have to sign another arm if Haren retires, given their depth in rotation, but the team could pursue a one-year deal at catcher like A.J. Pierzynski, or Geovany Soto, until Murphy is ready to overtake Jeff Mathis. Or, they could pocket the money, save it, and make a run at keeping Mat Latos along with Jose Fernandez to have one of the most dangerous 1-2 combos in the entire game!