Marlins: Would the Atlanta Braves pursue Caleb Smith?

Will a team within the National League East make a run at trying to add Marlins pitcher Caleb Smith to their starting rotation?

Here we go again. Another team that might be in the market to raid the Miami Marlins starting rotation. This time, it’s the team’s neighbor to the north, the Atlanta Braves, and Caleb Smith is the topic of conversation.

This isn’t a rumor of any sort, just a possibility that was brought up by Seth Carter of FanSided.com’s site, Tomahawk Take.

Carter does a great job explaining the Braves could look to add to their pitching staff with the changes made to their roster this offseason and Smith, who was 10-11 last season and the only Marlins starter to win double-digit games, could be someone to pursue.

Smith appeared on many teams’ radars this offseason as the Marlins front office hit free agency and Hot Stove at a more vigorous pace than the previous two seasons. Still, no deal was done for Smith or any of the front-line starters in the Marlins rotation.

“Caleb Smith has spent the past two seasons looking like a breakout ace and has also spent the past two seasons being linked to constant trade rumors. There were rumors last off-season, they picked up at the deadline last year, and they started again this off-season,” Carter adds

“Why would the Marlins trade young controllable lefty with ace-like potential? They are maximizing value right now. Last season they traded away useable, controllable players like Nick Anderson, Trevor Richards. They traded away J.T. Realmuto prior to last season.”

While I see Carter’s point, the deal made for those three players, who were expendable with the exception of Realmuto, who I still believe should be in south Florida right now, but Smith is battling to be Miami’s No. 1 starter after beginning the 2019 campaign as the fifth man in the pecking order. He and Sandy Alcantara should form an imposing 1-2 punch off the mound.

For the record, I stand by the belief that both pitchers will win 15 games this season in a Marlins uniform.

If the Marlins were to finally part ways with Smith, it would cost the Braves – potentially more than it would have at the beginning of the offseason. The front office has plenty of depth on all four levels of the minor league system, but a lefty who is a dominant strikeout pitcher is something this organization has lacked over time.

It would have to be an over the top deal for the Marlins to consider such a deal.

By the way, if the Braves were to offer Ender Inciarte in a package deal, I would certainly listen to their front office. With Marcell Ozuna now in the fold, the youngster could be expendable.

Smith’s fast start in 2019 is something Carter points to in his reasoning for taking a swing toward Miami.

“In early June he admitted he was suffering from hip issues. He finished April with 29 innings pitched and 37 Ks,” he writes.

“His ERA at the end of April’s five starts – which included a loss to the Braves – stood at 2.17. Through his first eight starts, he had a 2.25 ERA with a .180 average against. His 58% GB rate and 64 Ks in 48 innings pitched all pointed toward a breakout, ace-like season.”

For now, a deal for Smith or any of the Marlins starters appears to be off the table. That may change once the season starts. Smith is still under team control for the next five seasons. It’s likely the front office would give him away unless there was a deal that blows the roof off of Marlins Park.

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