Trading For Dee Gordon Hurt The Marlins


An interesting angle by which the Marlins trade with the Dodgers may be explored from a large macro view. The Marlins effectively traded organizational depth and two players who are both regarded as multi-dimensional, two way players. That is to say two guys who have above average tools, Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes for Dee Gordon a player who only has an exceptional speed tool.

Take Hernandez, who in his time at AAA with both Miami and Houston last year slashed .318/.372/.402 (.373 wOBA) and a 31.8% extra base hit rate.  While playing every position in the field except for catcher in 2014.   Back when the Marlins traded for Jarred Cosart in July Hernandez was seen as a throw-in piece but as time went on I realized that the Marlins had actually acquired a player who could feature as at least a Major League average contributor as a super utility player. I was never convinced that the Marlins should have committed to him as an everyday option but he could have been a great contributor to a winning roster nonetheless.

Hernandez’ profile is a quite an interesting experiment in what the Marlins front office values in their players.   A player who is as versatile and has such a projectable bat must should have a place in their roster construction but instead they opted for Dee Gordon.

Dee Gordon who is a very nice player and had a breakout year last year was ultimately a misguided decision for the Marlins front office to make.  Gordon fits a prototype he fits the part of a leadoff hitter. A fast player, who can steal bases and is supposedly a “spark plug” at the top of the order.  The thing is that for a player to steal bases he must reach base and Gordon’s breakout season netted him a .326 OBP and 4.8% walk rate. The 45th worst mark among all qualified hitters between 2012 and 2014.  Put another way Adeiny Hechavarria had a higher walk rate in 2013 at 5.2% than Gordon did in 2014.  Marlins management falls in love with players because they see certain things which leads to them ignoring the entirety of the players skill set.

64 stolen bases certainly jumps off the page but more important question are ignored. Who does this player actually do what he does so well? Are these numbers sustainable?    A .346 BABIP and that alarmingly low walk rate suggest that it would be hard for Gordon to replicate his 2014 in 2015 for the Marlins.

Dan Szymborki’s ZiPS projects Gordon for .281/.326/.357 an 88 OPS+, 50 SB and 1.6 WAR.  That is certainly not a bad season but it is certainly not worth trading away two legitimate hitting prospects, the team’s best pitching prospect and what is becoming a dependable bullpen arm in Chris Hatcher.

Gordon isn’t also a clear a defensive upgrade over Solano or Hernandez at second base. This becomes important given the Marlins penchant to commit on ground ball pitchers like Henderson Alvarez and Jarred Cosart.  The Marlins must upgrade their infield defensively and the Dee Gordon signing was a step in the wrong direction in making that happen.

This blinkered view of players is how the Marlins will end up signing Mike Morse on the back of a ridiculous .196 ISO and 15% plus HR/FB  while ignoring his 25% strikeout rate and mediocre advanced fielding stats.

No sane National League manager or general manager should legitimately look at Mike Morse as a legitimate option to be your everyday first baseman.  Morse should be an American League only player and even the massive power comes with massive question marks.

The Marlins paid a steep price for Dee Gordon and the will likely ended up doing the same for Mike Morse in free agency because they are obsessed with guys with impressive skill sets. This has its positives, the Marlins drafted Giancarlo Stanton only because of his power tool but for every Giancarlo Stanton there is a Matt Dominguez or a Kyle Skipworth.  It is better to have well rounded guys than one that only has one exceptional tool.  This philosophy may benefit the Marlins in 2015 and in the short term but it will cost them in the long term.

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