Miami Marlins first half update and outlook

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Marcell Ozuna
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 21: Marcell Ozuna /

With the MLB Trade deadline just 3 days away, the Miami Marlins have already branded themselves as sellers.

By trading away David Phelps and Adiney Hechavarria for prospects, the Miami Marlins are focusing on the future rather than trying to win now. As a long time Marlins fan, it has become the norm to go into the season with a sense of hope.

But as the year rolls on, they go through a month every season where nothing seems to go right.

This season had a dimmer feel to it because of the tragic passing of the vocal leader and spark plug of the team, Jose Fernandez. Even the casual baseball fan knew what Fernandez meant to the Marlins franchise as well as the fan base.

With him no longer around, the Marlins lost not only an amazing person and player, but the teams most valuable asset.

That made the front office sift through free agents and trade scenarios that could attempt to replace the production that Fernandez brought to the table every 5th day.

The “super bullpen”

The Marlins wanted to try to mimic the Kansas City Royals title-winning game plan. They decided to go with a pitching staff of serviceable starters with a lights-out bullpen. According to John Heyman, the Marlins went after top-tier closers, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, ultimately striking out on both.

After missing out on those two pitchers, they signed Edinson Volquez, Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa to multi-year deals, and traded for Dan Straily. Early on, the signings looked like mistakes. All three struggled out of the gate.

Tables began to turn once Volquez threw the first no-hitter of the 2017 season. More recently, Tazawa began to find his footing in Miami and become a more reliable reliever. All three have had injury issues, with Ziegler making rehab starts, and Volquez on the DL.

The approaching trade deadline

As it sits currently, the Marlins are 9.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot. They are scouting contending team’s farm systems to see who they would like to target in the chance they discuss a trade with them.

The Marlins have made themselves available in trade talks, but have smartly kept their core off-limits. Unfortunately, due to injuries, the trade candidates have slowly fizzled out and the Marlins have few trade chips remaining.

ARLINGTON, TX – JULY 25: Dan Straily
ARLINGTON, TX – JULY 25: Dan Straily /

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Miami Marlins have been actively shopping closer AJ Ramos, Martin Prado, and other pieces contending teams may be interested in. With Prado injuring his knee and electing to get surgery, he will no longer be a trade candidate.

In my opinion, the Marlins should be shopping AJ Ramos, Junichi Tazawa, Dan Straily, Dee Gordon, Brad Ziegler and Derek Dietrich. Moving Ramos, Gordon and Straily would almost certainly bring back some quality prospects that the Marlins bottom-tier farm system desperately needs.

In regards to Tazawa and Ziegler, the Marlins would likely have to eat some of the money that they’re owed in order to get any sort of return for them.

A bright future

Miami has a solid core of position players for the team to build around. But the pitching staff needs a total overhaul. Players such as JT Realmuto, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich are about to enter their prime. With Stanton and Bour hit the thick of their prime, the future for the offense is bright.  They need to put together a pitching staff that is formidable, and can keep opposing teams in check while the offense goes to work.

2017 outlook

The Marlins are giving chances to players who have respectable minor league careers to see if they can make it in the big leagues. They have given starts to Chris O’Grady and Jose Urena, who have been used as relievers during their careers. They have performed better than expected as they try to solidify themselves into the future plans of the team.

Dan Straily has been a bright spot in the Marlins rotation, giving the team quality innings and a chance to win most of his times out. He is not going to be a front of the rotation type starter, so they should cash in on his strong season.

Next: Martin Prado to have knee surgery

This is a lost season for the Miami Marlins. They need to plan for the future, and try to be competitive in 2019 and beyond. Move pieces that do not factor into their future for young pitching talent.