Jun 23, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New York Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese (49) is checked by manager Terry Collins after getting hit on a line drive by Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers (not pictured) in the fourth inning at Miller Park. Niese stayed in the game. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The Marlins, over all, need to add pitching. So far that’s been addressed via the moves I suggested yesterday and the just discussed Grilli trade. I think the team needs to add one more starting pitcher; one that is controlled for a number of years. As I mentioned previously, it looks like there’s going to be a lack of sellers.
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That means the Marlins will need to do lots of convincing if they want to acquire controllable pitching.
The biggest problem is some team that aren’t exactly in the thick of the race (examples from yesterday: A’s and Indians) can be expected to bounce back next season. The Marlins are going to have to really blow away a team, which will most likely mean cleaning out the talent the team has right now.
The options here are very limited. The Braves will sell, but won’t be looking to trade any controllable starting pitching (as they shouldn’t). The Phillies don’t have controllable starting pitching of any value outside of Cole Hamels, and the team doesn’t have the prospect power to make a deal there. The Reds are undecided about selling (for some reason) but their biggest trade chips are free agents at the end of the year anyways.
The Brewers and Rockies don’t have any pitching to deal, the Padres are trying to win now and over the next couple seasons so they won’t trade any pitching, and the Diamondbacks are a bunch of deer in headlights.
In the American League, the Red Sox are trying to obtain controllable pitching, the Indians’ rotation is all under control for a long time, the White Sox aren’t sure what to do, the A’s are pretty unpredictable so there might be a match here, and the Mariners probably won’t trade their controllable pitching.
I really only see one good fit for a trade here. The Mets currently have an envious collection of young arms, featuring pitchers Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler set to return from Tommy John sometime next season. Starter Jon Niese hasn’t been made available, but there have been some rumors about teams being interesting in acquiring the left hander. He is a very consistent, league average starter that is just 28 and is under control through 2018. He is owed $9 million next season and has two team options: a $10 million for 2017 and $10.5 million option for 2018. Each option has a $500k buyout. Average starting pitchers usually sign for something like $15-16 million in free agency, and those guys are usually 31-32 at that point.
That makes Niese a pretty good bargain, which also means he will have some pretty strong interest. As is the case, the Dodgers and Cubs have reportedly expressed their interest, so the Marlins would have to be very aggressive to acquire him.
The deal will have to start with Tyler Kolek. The right hander has underwhelmed thus far but the upside is still considerable and the Mets know how to develop pitching. Most teams, especially the Dodgers and Cubs, probably wouldn’t offer up the 46th overall prospect in baseball, but the Marlins will have to be both aggressive and bold. To seal the deal, the Marlins will round out with Avery Romero and Austin Dean. This might look like an overpay, but Romero and Dean are mostly fringe prospects, although they could turn into big league starters one day.
In all honesty, it could be an overpay, but given the place of the trade among the rest of the trades, it’s justifiable. The Marlins have a chance to turn their impending free agent starting pitchers and starting third basemen into fairly close to ready starting pitchers with upside.
Next season, the locks in the rotation are Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez. Jarred Cosart might be best suited for the bullpen but for now he’s probably still a starter heading into next season. The Marlins could fill anywhere between 1-3 starters through trades of Latos, Haren, and Prado.
The team could really do well to lock in another spot for next season and the next few seasons by acquiring Niese. Cosart, any prospects acquired that don’t crack the rotation, Koehler/Hand (only one should be dealt at this year’s trade deadline), and Justin Nicolino will serve as rotation depth. Maybe Nicolino locks in a rotation spot instead, but regardless the team has more pitching depth here than it did heading into this season.