As I basically noted here and here, the Marlins’ roster is in need of some turnover. Ideally, the core should be kept because they do have a good core of players to build around. Some of the auxiliary pieces, however, need to be swapped out. This roster is in desperate need of a boost in talent and depth and it needs to act accordingly. As you can tell by the title of this article, one such target should be Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.
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We’ll just dive right into this one. Fangraphs senior writer Dave Cameron ranked Puig #28 on his annual Top 50 Trade Value list (3 Marlins also make their appearance in that very section of the list, making a full blown fire sale incredibly appealing). He basically projects as a 4.5 win player going forward, which is probably operating under the assumption that his power output will be more like it has been this season rather than his previous two. That may be a pretty conservative forecast for Puig’s production. If his ISO jumps back above .200 again, he’s one of the best players in baseball. There are a few negatives that drag his value down a bit, the questions about his power being one of them.
As Cameron notes, Puig can opt into arbitration following the 2016 season and he’ll surely earn more than the $6.5 million salary he’s set for through arbitration. That makes his deal less team friendly since he won’t be a total bargain anymore, although he also won’t break the bank open.
Another aspect that brings down his value is the fact that his teammates and the organization are seemingly getting tired of him. There are some rumors that President Andrew Friedman and company might have something of a short leash with him which is what brings us to this article today.
Could the Marlins really trade for Yasiel Puig?
I don’t need to beat a dead horse and remind you that this team is severely lacking in depth at the Major and Minor league levels. Any trade for Puig would need to take some talent away from the Major League roster. What kind of pieces might the Marlins be willing to move? Is there a match for a trade here?
The main thing the Dodgers are looking for in a trade is starting pitching. The Marlins, of course, have made available, in some capacity, two starting pitchers. The Dodgers would probably be willing to welcome back Dan Haren since he is a very dependable depth piece for any rotation. The Dodgers would be looking for more than a back end starter in a Puig trade, so the Marlins would have to start off with Mat Latos.
Latos is a rental and despite his track record of great success and recent performances suggesting that he’s pitching like a frontline starter again, slight injuries here and there should raise some concerns. The team would have to offer a lot more to get the Dodgers to even answer the phone.
The Dodgers have a very deep bullpen (8 relievers who have thrown at least 10 innings and possess a FIP below 3.50), but there’s always room for more pitching depth. Carter Capps won’t be (and probably shouldn’t be) available in any trade, even in a Puig trade, but AJ Ramos shouldn’t be off limits in this situation.
Ramos is a very good reliever, but being a reliever who derives a majority of his production from limiting hits on balls in play means he can go up in smoke quickly. That’s not intended to be a knock on him; he has managed contact very well but it remains to be seen if this is an actual skill of his. The Dodgers know this, but given the presence of Kenley Jansen and the aforementioned reliever depth, they probably don’t mind the risk he carries.
Of course, this still doesn’t come close to getting it done. What else do the Marlins have to offer? Marcell Ozuna might be a player teams could label as a bounce back candidate.
Ozuna’s power has vanished this season, with his ISO dropping from .186 in 2014 to .088 in 2015. His average fly ball distance dropped from to 291 feet to 269 feet. It’s entirely possible that last season’s power output was a total fluke and his 2013 season might be closer to the norm. His arm is a major weapon but his range in centerfield has declined each season so teams will probably view him as a corner outfielder, especially the Dodgers due to Joc Pederson‘s presence.
The Dodgers have a lot of outfield depth so they might be willing to take a chance on Ozuna. Maybe he still has that star potential, but if he can’t play at least average defense in centerfield he becomes even more reliant on power to be a positive contributor. At the very least, he’s a platoon bat, but he might be redundant given the fact that the Dodgers have Scott Van Slyke, Enrique Hernandez, and Alex Guerrero.
This still isn’t enough so what else can the Marlins offer? Martin Prado is a fairly valuable piece that is versatile and will add depth to the Dodgers’ overflow of infield talent. Jimmy Rollins, Alberto Callaspo, and Howie Kendrick will all be free agents following this season, so the Dodgers could use some infield depth for next season to accommodate Alex Guerrero, Hector Olivera, Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, Enrique Hernandez, and Austin Barnes. He could definitely slot into a starter’s role at second or third and be close to league average without costing a lot of money. Most importantly, he’s versatile, so the Dodgers won’t be handcuffed by him positionally.
Not only will the Marlins have to offer enough value for the Dodgers to be interested, they would also have to beat out offers from other teams. Essentially, the Marlins would have to offer even more to possibly seal this deal. Miami only has one top 100 prospect right now in Baseball America’s 46th ranked Tyler Kolek. His value isn’t what it was in June of 2014, but his upside is still considerable. Kolek will have to be the cherry on top of this everything sundae.
Jul 20, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson (31) makes a catch past right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) against the Atlanta Braves in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Ultimately, this probably isn’t even enough to convince the Dodgers to trade Puig. Even if they are down on him, he’s still very good and extremely valuable. Latos has question marks and he’s a rental. AJ Ramos is a very good reliever but he’s still a reliever and those come and go very quickly.
Ozuna has considerable question marks about his future value. Prado is a good player on a good deal, but he doesn’t have the kind of upside you’d expect to get back when you’re trading a player like Yasiel Puig. Tyler Kolek also has upside but maybe not frontline potential, also being a risky prospect. There are just too many question marks here to get the Dodgers to bite on this deal.
With that being said, the Marlins should do a trade like this in a heartbeat if the Dodgers accepted it. It would quickly consolidate a lot of value into one player while enabling the Marlins to make follow up moves to round out the rest of the roster. This is a hypothetical to end all hypotheticals because the Dodgers won’t make Puig available and the Marlins would never be willing to put together a package to acquire him.
It would certainly result in the Marlins having the indisputably best outfield in baseball. Having three 4+ win outfielders who also have tremendous trade value will do that. But Puig’s trade value also makes him very hard to trade for. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to take a step back and just speculate. “What if?” scenarios are designed to be fun and while this situation has a near zero chance of happening, it was a fun exercise.