Miami Marlins Trade Analysis: Cashner Deal Well Worth It

Mar 4, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jarred Cosart (59) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2016; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jarred Cosart (59) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Alright, fair to say that yesterday’s transaction has been met with some shoulder shrugging and skepticism.  Not unlike the seat squirming one might do at a rally where the preferred candidate says something you feel like you should cheer, but can’t quite bring yourself to do.

I promise that analogy would have been thrown out during any Trade Deadline, not just an election year one.  And don’t read anything into it either- I’m voting for the Thomas Whitmore/David Palmer ticket.

But back to that Trade Deadline Weekend 2016 Kickoff the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres put on for the baseball world Friday, a seven-player swap that helps one club in 2016 and the other for possibly much longer.  Tonight’s starter Colin Rea and top target Andrew Cashner headline Miami’s haul, while San Diego lays claim to 2015 first-round pick Josh Naylor and three promising pitchers.

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Through a purely baseball prism, at least in terms of what baseball has become, the Marlins absolutely overpaid.  Cashner was the best piece they received, and he’ll be playing for another team next season.  Rea is extremely affordable for the next few seasons, but hasn’t offered nearly as much proof as you’d have liked that he isn’t just Jarred Cosart 2.0.  In fact, although it seems forever ago at this point, there was a half season of sample size where Cosart proved he could be significantly better. Even this year, Cosart has one more start where he didn’t allow a run than Rea has, and you only need one finger to count the times Cosart pulled that particular feat off.

Beyond that, the Padres received a slew of controllable upside talent in Naylor and pitcher Luis Castillo, along with a reliever that’s one of the toughest matchups in the game when he’s healthy.  Quite the coup for two average starters and a third piece- prospect Tayron Guerrero– that looks to have the ceiling of a mediocre long reliever.

This much was broken down yesterday on the site by colleague Kyle Rowley, and appears to be the consensus of much of the actual media.  Again, it’s not a view that’s wrong by any means.

But if you look at the whole picture of this Miami Marlins franchise, I’m inclined to disagree.  To the average baseball team, this wasn’t worth it.  The Marlins though…this was a no-brainer.  Had to make the deal.

Remember, this is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2003.  Their last winning season? That’d be 2009.  The market they play in?  Glad you asked- it’d be the one that a Miami Heat team that’s won three championships and perennially makes the playoffs plays in.  Which is also the same market that, at its core, is a football town built on the foundation of an Undefeated Season, Dan Marino’s brilliance, and five college football national titles.  And to top it all off, for the first time in well over a decade, people are actually getting excited about the hockey team.

Throw all that together with the fact that Jeffrey Loria might be the most hated owner in sports, trusted as much by the South Florida community as Taylor Swift trusts Kanye West right now, and it becomes clear that the Marlins operate under a set of circumstances unique from most ballclubs.

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If Andrew Cashner pitches like he has the past month, even with some room for regression, the Marlins will be noticeably better for it.  Chris Sale the man is not (something the equipment staff is probably thankful for), but he doesn’t need to be to give the Fish the edge they need to push ahead into October.  He doesn’t even have to be Adam Conley; a slightly better Tom Koehler will be just fine, thanks.  After all, if the season ended the day this trade was made, the club would have made the playoffs without him.  It’s not an unreasonable leap to think this move can get the job done, at least as long as the Cardinals, Mets, or Pirates don’t make a blockbuster upgrade.

Bottom-line, this team has an opportunity to sneak up and steal the market.  Winning now for would be huge for them, and the definition of “winning now” is honestly just to break those playoff and winning season droughts.  The combined force of a roster with that kind of talent and the forthcoming Marlins Park hosted MLB All-Star Game would be a massive coup for Loria in terms of public relations and, correspondingly, ticket sales.  For the first time that I can remember, I actually agree with Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, one of the few national writers to come out in defense of the move.

Jeff and I have a fun rivalry: I take offense to much of what he writes about the Marlins and Dolphins, and he in turn blissfully doesn’t know I exist.  It’s a good system.

Sure, Josh Naylor and Luis Castillo could become great players.  But treating Luis Castillo like he’s a sure-fire lock to be as successful as the last Luis Castillo the Marlins had is a tad premature.  Even if they do become great, their arrival time is years away.

To my mind, this is an organization working with a two-year window.  It’s been a theme of mine all season; you’ll see it again in tomorrow’s article on “Untouchable Marlins”.   That’s how long Jose Fernandez is under contract and Giancarlo Stanton earns a team-friendly salary.  After that, Stanton starts earning A-Rod money and Jose will be one year and counting from free-agency.

In other words, there’s no point in worrying about long-term prospects lost these next two seasons, because unless revenue soars due a winning product in 2016 and 2017, Fernandez is getting dealt for a package that will make you wonder why you ever ascribed any value to what the Marlins just gave San Diego.  Even in a contract year, he’d command the type of prospects that could remake a farm system overnight.

So well done Marlins. A risk for sure, but one worth taking.