Rumors started to circulate Tuesday that the Miami Marlins might be willing to move their ace, Jose Fernandez. However, that move was quickly met with an equal amount of skepticism, as doing so would seemingly make little sense for a cash strapped franchise in the market for quality starting pitching. Fernandez, who won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2013, led the league in strikeouts the following season until an elbow injury forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery. Fourteen months later, this past season saw his successful return, although he did miss an additional month due to a strained bicep. Despite the missed time, he was extremely effective, and even set an MLB record for most consecutive home wins without a loss to start a career.
Think about that for a second. In twenty-six games played at Marlins Park, he’s never been tagged with a loss, and boasts an ERA of 1.40. He even bats .231 in the home ballpark, which for perspective, has made him a better hitter than his starting catcher in every home game he’s played in until this past season. Even in that instance, the advantage enjoyed by J.T.Realmuto is only a slight .240 to .231 edge.
If you look up energy in the dictionary, you might well find his picture; his passion for the game and commitment to the team is palpable every time he takes the mound or graces the screen. Plus, he’s a Cuban- American success story playing his home games in Little Havana; a better home pitcher in terms of production, energy, and crowd appeal does not exist in baseball. If you’ve found another, you’re cheating and counting Henry Rowengartner.
Eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, he’ll be under club control for the next three years. With his 2016 projected salary projected to climb near $2 million, the Marlins will essentially be able to trot out a pitcher that has been mentioned in the same breadth as Clayton Kershaw for less money than they spent on Mike Dunn last season.
Moving him this year at all seems far fetched at best given those financial realities, with the Trade Deadline being the absolute earliest it would seem worth exploring. While Miguel Cabrera has been thrown out as a reason to believe the team might consider such a move, one would do well to remember that the Marlins still viewed Cabrera as a bargain for at least one of his arbitration eligible years; furthermore, Fernandez’s injury history will absolutely count in the Marlins favor in making Kid K an excellent value for 2016 and 2017.
While rebuilding the farm system is a must, the consequences of dealing Fernandez in terms of fan backlash and lost revenue would be extreme. Plus, moving him before 2017 would be the anti-Marlins move in many ways, as he’s still a bargain to be had. If these rumors are indicative of anything, it’s probably more about the Marlins needing to move quickly past this recent Boras drama than about any real intentions of dealing their ace.