Justin Morneau Rumors: Rockies wanted Alvarez or Cosart in Return?

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It’s no secret that the Miami Marlins are willing to improve their ball-club at any cost this season. During the winter meetings, the Marlins overpaid the Los Angeles Dodgers for the services of second baseman Dee Gordon. The team then dug deeper into their prospect base and were able to sneak out a clever deal with the Reds for Mat Latos.

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Even with Latos and Gordon in the fold, the Marlins are still trying to mark one more need off of their wish list. The team is still heavily pursuing a replacement first baseman for Garrett Jones, who is coming off a terrible 2014 season.

One name that has been linked to the Marlins for most of the off-season has been Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau. The Marlins have talked to the Rockies for the better part of the off-season and yet the two teams have yet to find a trade that makes sense.

A reason for that could be the Rockies asking price for Morneau, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Rockies have asked for either Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart for Morneau:

"The Marlins love Morneau, but declined Colorado’s initial request for Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart."

Forget Alvarez and Cosart, I’d be disappointed if the Marlins traded Nathan Eovaldi for Morneau. While Morneau is coming off a good 2014 campaign, he’s still 34 years of age and could start declining at any time.

In 2014, Morneau slashed .319/.364/.496 in 2014 with 17 home runs with the Rockies. His 2.5 WAR would have easily been the fourth best mark among position players last season for the Marlins. His .365 wOBA was nearly as good as his .380 wOBA at Coors Field, so the question about his ability outside of Colorado should not be doubted.

However, it’s a complete stretch to say that Morneau is worth Alvarez, Eovaldi, or Cosart. All three have three to four years of team control left, while Morneau is under contract for the 2015 season and a team option of $9 million for the 2016 season. All three young pitchers could fetch a better bat if the Marlins were to put them on the market.

Alvarez is coming off an All-Star season, where he posted a 2.65 ERA and a 3.58 FIP. He was the Marlins ace for much of the season, when Fernandez went down with his elbow injury. Cosart, who was acquired at the deadline, posted a 2.39 ERA and a 3.32 FIP in his 64 innings with the Marlins, but a 4.02 FIP in his time with the Astros.

While the scenario author Billy Brost throws out there this morning about a swap between the Rockies and Marlins makes sense on the surface, it would be a massive overpay for a player on the wrong side of 30.

Despite his 4.37 ERA, Eovaldi had a much more impressive 3.37 FIP, a full run below his ERA. He did this in nearly 200 innings work, which led the team. Eovaldi also walked a career low of 1.94 batters per nine innings, while maintaining his strikeout to nearly the same rate as last season. The main thing working against Eovaldi for the season was his BABIP against, as hitters hit .323 off him. The year before, hitters hit just .286 on balls in play. If that number equalizes out a little, Eovaldi looks closer to a top of the rotation guy than a middling 4/5 starter.

With the loss of Andrew Heaney, the impending free agency of Mat Latos, and concerns about how Jose Fernandez will fare after his Tommy John surgery, it would hurt the Marlins lose someone as valuable as Eovaldi and not have insurance in the long-run. Especially when you’re trading him for a guy that Steamer projects to have a 1.5 WAR season in 2015.

Yes, the Marlins need a first baseman, but Morneau is not going to be the answer, especially if he forces the Marlins to part with a young starting pitcher. For the Marlins to part with one of their young starters, they need to get a better player in return, one who could be under team control for a while.

Next: Why is Loria spending now?

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