Miami Marlins Should Trade With White Sox

Jul 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Chicago, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 18, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (49) throws against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Chicago, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

This Thursday, the Chicago White Sox became the first borderline contender to officially reverse course as we head into the homestretch towards the 2016 MLB Trade Deadline.  MLBTradeRumors provides an extensive breakdown of all the various players that could be impacted by such a decision from the South Siders here, and that list has even opened up in the forty-eight hours since to include Chris Sale and Jose Quintana.

The Miami Marlins front office should be tripping over themselves to get in on the action, because the answer to every last one of their needs can be found on the White Sox roster.  And in some cases, for relatively cheap, at least in terms of elite prospects.

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This is not a pipe dream piece suggesting the Marlins can slot in Chris Sale behind Jose Fernandez in the starting rotation.  That’s just not possible without moving multiple pieces out of Miami’s lineup, which would of course defeat the point of the entire exercise.

But that’s ok, because the Marlins don’t need a player of Sale’s ilk to make the postseason.  Or even Quintana’s.

What the Marlins need are what they’ve been rumored to be after for the past couple weeks: a capable innings eater with No. 3 upside, and a lefty reliever to strengthen the bullpen.  As well as a third piece there’s been no buzz about thus far whatsoever, and that’s an experienced bench bat with some pop that can play first base.

All three of those things can be found in the pile of chips the White Sox just sat down at the Trade table with.  So without delay, the Marlins should do some or all of the following:

The Marlins should trade for James Shields.

The Marlins should trade for Zach Duke.

The Marlins should trade for Justin Morneau.

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Shields is the main get here.  Before the 2015 season opened, and before I even started writing for this site, I argued extensively for signing James Shields back when he was the last remaining jewel of free agency.

Thankfully, that argument has never been held against me.  Even at the reduced rate he did sign for, that contract would have been a disastrous one for the Marlins to have on the books in its entirety.

That number is much lower now, as the Padres are paying significant chunks of that remaining salary.  Paying Shields for the remainder of this season, for all of 2017 and 2018, and buying him out of 2019 would ultimately cost just $25 million.   And, of course, it’s extremely likely the Marlins could look to make that number even smaller by asking the White Sox to shoulder some of the load themselves.

Though if the Marlins are serious about adding quality talent to make a 2016 playoff run, they should just take the hit.  Taking on salary is, after all, the one trick they can call upon more readily than some of their Wild Card rivals, and one that helps redress their lack of top prospects.  Plus, taking the full Shields hit should make the Sox disposable to throwing in at least Morneau as a sweetener.

Shields has righted the ship the past month, having turned in five straight quality starts.  Even if the form he’s returned to is his 2015 form, that’s exactly the player the Marlins are looking for.  Basically a slightly better Tom Koehler.  If he can continue doing that, the effect on the bullpen will be huge, and the Fish can march out there on that fifth day with a heck of a lot more confidence than they have all season.

Of course, I could be overestimating the extent to which the White Sox care about saving money, as well as the extent to which Jeffrey Loria has embraced the grim reality that adding salary is his team’s most attractive commodity.

In that case, deal for Zach Duke, and go to war with a truly elite bullpen.  Duke’s a lefty, and has been excellent all year, with a 2.80 ERA and a much greater degree of reliability than Mike Dunn.  Take on the full price tag again, a tab that would come out to less than $10 million over the next two seasons, and again ask for Morneau to be included.  Signed for next to nothing this June, the White Sox should be willing to take anything they can get for him.

Morneau could step in as a feared alternative to Justin Bour until Bour is fully ready to return to the lineup, and then remain as a power bat off the bench that provides much higher upside than Don Kelly, Cole Gillespie, or even Chris Johnson.  While Johnson for his career is easily better against lefties than Bour or Morneau, he’s hit just .233 against lefties this season.  That’s lower than the career line for Morneau, and only six points better than Bour himself.  Supplanting Johnson with someone who can reliably hit lefties would be ideal, but would come at a much higher cost than Morneau would.

And make no mistake, the appeal of Morneau is his nearly .300 level of production against righties, and the fact that every day Bour doesn’t play is further proof that that injury is far worse than has been let on publicly.  Even if he is back this homestand, he should be eased in slowly.

At the end of the day, this is the best Marlins team we’ve seen in some time, and is one that needs just a slight push to have a real shot at being the third playoff team in franchise history.  Just one or two final pieces should do it.

Those pieces are in Chicago.  Go and get them Marlins.