The Miami Marlins have struggled throughout the month of May. With 12 games remaining, how will the Marlins finish out the second month of the season?
Time remains to keep this month from being a total loss. As it stands, the Miami Marlins are 14-25 and are staring at a six game west coast road trip. Alarm bells have been sounding at full blast for several days now, and the organization is scrambling for solutions.
In the past, this kind of start would have meant a new manager and a flurry of veteran signings, all in the hopes of recapturing lighting in a bottle the way they did in 2003. Don’t expect that to happen again this year. With the exception of a few minor additions, this is the Marlins for 2017.
So what do the Marlins need to do to save this season? With no prospects to use as trade bait, and reluctancy to use pro-level talent to bring in prospects, the immediate future is tenuous. However, with some clever maneuvering, and a little luck, the Marlins can still capture the second wild-card spot. And once the Fish are in the playoffs, you can start planning the parade.
Trade Marcell Ozuna
Just pull the trigger on this one already. The sooner the better. Marcell Ozuna is headed for the All-Star game this season, possibly the home run derby as well. While it won’t be a good look to trade a participant in an event you’re hosting later in the season, it’s a necessary evil. The Marlins have no other chips with as much value as Ozuna does.
What to do in the outfield? Options are sub-par compared to the production that Ozuna has supplied this year. But a platoon role between Ichiro and minor leaguer Isaac Galloway could provide enough to compensate for the loss. Galloway is having a breakout year in the minor leagues. After hitting .405 in AA to start the season, he has produced an OBP of .909 in AAA, and is showing more power than ever, hitting 7 dingers in only 75 AB’s.
In return for Ozuna, the Fish could net one top prospect, as well as several mid-range, projected MLB starting prospects. The focus in return for Ozuna should be starting pitching.
Kick the tires on Ross Detwiler
This is where the luck comes in. Ross Detwiler recently exercised his option and left the Oakland A’s organization. He was pitching in a relief role in AAA, but the possibility of making it to the Major League club didn’t seem likely. He’s currently a free agent and would provide a low risk option for the Marlins.
He’s never been a dominant left-handed starter, but he has fared much better in the National League than the American League; posting a 3.94 ERA compared to a 6.58 ERA. With Wei-Yin Chen out for an extended period of time, possibly the remainder of the season, the Marlins need a lefty in the rotation. Jeff Locke should be available soon, but he provides the same amount of hope as Detwiler.
The Marlins only need one season of slightly above average ball from either of these lefties. For his career, Detwiler has posted a 0.5 WAR, if he can give the Miami Marlins that this year, it’ll be enough.
Be ready to go full steam, or fold at the trade deadline
By the trade deadline, the team should know if it is realistically in the race. If they are within five or six games, empty the minor league tank. With the exception of whatever the Miami Marlins are able to get back in a trade with for Marcell Ozuna, nothing is off limits. Tyler Kolek, Braxton Garrett, Brian Anderson, all of the above, nothing is off limits for the right veteran.
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The addition would probably come in the form of a starting pitcher. As bad as the Marlins bullpen has been to start the season, it will right itself. The Marlins have legitimate arms in the pen, and they’ll figure it out as the season goes on. Starting pitching will remain the biggest concern.
With a number of starters expected to hit the free agent market at the end of the season, there should be a number of quality arms available at the deadline. This unusual surplus could drive down the asking price to a level the Marlins can afford.
Of course, if the Marlins find that they are 25 games under .500, and without any reasonable chance at a playoff spot, it’s time to tear it down. Not trade away Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich tear it down, but some of the more bit players.
Edinson Volquez can bring in a quality prospect or two. As could Martin Prado for a team looking for a veteran ahead of the push. Aside from the Marlins core-four (Yelich, Stanton, Realmuto, Gordon), everything should be on the table.
If the opportunity to unload Chen arises, take it, regardless of what they offer in return. Even if it’s a cheeseburger, take it. He’s locked into a long contract that he can’t reasonably live up to at this point.
The season isn far from lost. We are halfway through May and the Miami Marlins have a team capable of making it into the postseason. They’ve struggled, but we aren’t even a quarter of the way through the season yet. Exercise patience, and with a few moves, it might be rewarded.
Don’t lose faith, Fish fans. For better or worse, this is the team you’ll watch every night.