Would the Miami Marlins try to trade away their high-priced veterans in an effort to reduce their payroll for the 2019 season?
The Marlins offseason has been consumed by news regarding catcher J.T. Realmuto when in reality, the organization has been working to improve its roster. The list of needs is still long for this franchise, but the news of their star player wanting out of South Florida has become the biggest news since the destruction of the roster last offseason.
On a team the front office wants to get younger and more importantly better, would veterans with high price tags find their way onto other rosters before the beginning of the 2019 season?
Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No. There may still be some movement within the organization to add veterans to the roster for a first baseman, depth on the bench, a catcher to replace Realmuto when he is dealt and a veteran arm or two for the bullpen.
"“Finding a trade match for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto has consumed much of the Marlins’ attention and fueled plenty of trade speculation throughout the offseason,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes."
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The Marlins have $46 million in payroll attached to three players: third baseman Martin Prado, pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and second baseman Starlin Castro. Derek Jeter and Michael Hill could make a case to rid each one of them from the roster and save money for the future. But veterans in the organization are vital to the stability of the 25-man roster, which could be younger after Spring Training.
Castro would be the most likely candidate to move this season. The only veteran player in the deal that sent Giancarlo Stanton to New York wasn’t happy with the trade but had a solid season. His contract, which will pay him $11.857 million this season, could be the only reason he is not dealt.
I suspect the Marlins will look to make a deal at the trade deadline.
"“Miami is open to dealing the four-time All-Star second baseman, but there isn’t any serious interest in the 28-year-old at this point,” Frisaro writes. “The trade and free-agent markets have several second-base options, and then there is the issue of his salary.”"
Castro proved to be a clutch hitter for the team last season, hitting .278/.329/.400 with 12 home runs, 32 doubles, and 54 RBIs.
Prado has been hit by injuries the past two seasons but is probably the most respected player in the clubhouse. He is a manager on the field and is a big help with young players working their way to playing time.
Brian Anderson is the future at third base, but he could also be the team’s starting right fielder. Prado could also fit in at first base in a pinch. He is invaluable as a utility player and has some pop in his bat.
"“Staying healthy has been an issue for Prado, and it is a reason why there is limited interest in the 35-year-old third baseman,” writes Frisaro. “Prado appeared in 54 games in 2018, as he dealt with left hamstring and left quad strains, and a strained right oblique. Prado is signed for one more season at $15 million, which diminishes the chances he gets dealt before July.”"
Chen is the team’s biggest question mark in the starting rotation and possibly the hardest player to trade on the roster. He, Dan Straily (another name to watch at the trade deadline) and Jose Urena figure to be the three veterans in the rotation. But his inconsistency is an issue.
Chen was the Opening Day starter in 2016 but has spent more time on the disabled list than on the mound. Health is a concern for him. Finding a way to win both at home and on the road is a concern as well.
"“Unless the Marlins are willing to attach Chen’s contract to, say, any Realmuto talks, look for the left-hander to remain in Miami,” explains Frisaro.“And there are no indications the Marlins are willing to water down Realmuto’s return. Chen is set to make $20 million in 2019 and $22 million in ’20, and his contract has a $16 million conditional player option for ’21.”"
So the Marlins will go into the season with the veteran on the staff, hold their breath he stays healthy and can be the starter they signed from Baltimore four years ago.