The uncertainty surrounding Nathan Eovaldi‘s future with the Miami Marlins came to a head on Friday when the hurler was shipped to the New York Yankees along with Garrett Jones and minor leaguer Domingo German in exchange for Martin Prado and David Phelps.
The trade leaves the Marlins with an almost-completely reshaped infield and certainly lends to the idea that Miami is ready to compete now and end their soon-to-be twelve-year postseason drought, at the risk of the club’s future in regard to its farm system and payroll. Realistically, Prado will be too expensive for the Marlins moving forward so their new third baseman might just be a one or two-year rental. He is due $11 million each of the next two seasons, of which the Yankees are paying $8 million in 2015.
On paper, the Marlins appear to have gotten the better part of the deal, in the short term. According to Steamer, Prado projects to be worth 2.3 WAR next year playing full-time at third base with a .275/.326/.400/.726 line. What’s curious is that the same system also has Casey McGehee plugged in for a full-seasons worth of plate appearances, which obviously won’t happen now that the Marlins have upgraded both corner infield positions.
By contrast, Phelps only projects to be worth 0.3 WAR, probably mostly used out of the bullpen. He did make 17 starts for the Yankees in 2014 as well as 15 relief appearances, and was a no-win player with a 4.38 ERA and 4.41 FIP. Phelps is basically a throw-in piece of the trade, but will likely compete for a setup spot or even long relief.
Those two players net the Marlins an additional 2.6 wins in 2015, in Fangraphs’ eyes.
Prado also brings another low-OBP guy to a Marlins lineup already ripe with free-swingers who strike out a lot and don’t get on base at an ideal rate.
On the Yankees side, Garrett Jones projects to do a bit more hitting than he did for the Marlins, but that’s to be expected when you factor in the different dimensions of both ballparks. Steamer predicts a .250/.311/.448/.756 line with 14 home runs, but Jones is a liability on defense. He is projected to be a 0.5-win player.
Sep 6, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (24) pitches the ball in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Eovaldi is slated to once again struggle with keeping the ball in the yard and be a 1.1 WAR pitcher in 32 starts. The Marlins internally considered sliding Eovaldi to the bullpen, and this writer sees that as a move the Yankees also chew over midseason when they see what they are really getting. They do have the benefit of club control over Eovaldi through 2018, and he is by no means a finished product.
At the end of the day, the all-mighty advanced metrics suggest the Marlins will come out ahead by about a 1-win gain after the trade. They improved on offense and defense, as Prado doesn’t light up the defensive metrics, but he’s not a negative dWAR player like “Clank” Jones. They lost an arm they probably weren’t going to keep anyway, so that aspect of the trade is also a wash.
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Moving forward, the Marlins may have lost a very valuable pitching prospect in Domingo German. German is a 22 year-old right hander who reached A-ball in 2014 and has seen a ton of success at every minor league level. He posted a 2.48 ERA last year at Single-A and owns a career 8.8 K/9 in the minors, so the Yankees definitely gained a big arm for the future. To me, the loss of this rising prospect will hurt more than losing Eovaldi and Jones. At the end of the day, the Yankees gain an extra year of club control in the form of Eovaldi, as well as the ever-valuable pitching prospect moving forward.
Miami is set with a vastly improved infield next year, and with their quality starting pitching are positioned to compete in 2015. Eovaldi was an expendable piece thanks to the Marlins’ surplus of young arms, but it will be incredibly disappointing if the team falls short again next season. Having traded top prospects Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani in addition to this trade, they don’t have much pitching in the pipeline. This team is designed for a short-term push and has gotten older after various roster moves in the past couple weeks. If the Marlins don’t find the postseason very soon, we could be looking at another rebuild before too long, and a continued playoff drought would make that even harder to swallow.
And at this point, more moves need to be made for this team to reach true contender status right away. If the Marlins are really going all-in, as the past couple weeks have suggested, they might as well go all the way and sell what’s left of the farm to try and make 2015 the year they finally end the skid. Or all these moves will, once again, be for naught.