Inbox: Smith for a power bat at Deadline?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Marlins fans

July 25th, 2019

When do you expect the Marlins to be active in pursuing young, prolific power bats -- in free agency or via trades?
-- @juanseocre

The Trade Deadline is Wednesday, and the Marlins are exploring ways to add hitters who can make an impact, preferably players who are either ready for the big leagues or close to it. The most likely trade candidates have expiring contracts after this season – closer ($2.5 million), infielder ($2 million) and outfielder ($1.75 million). I don’t see any of these three alone netting a middle-of-the-order hitter close to being ready for the big leagues. They’d more likely return a mid-level prospect, and/or international signing pool money.

To get a hitter, Miami may have to part with a controllable starting pitcher. The only one who might realistically draw a power-type hitter is left-hander , who has four more years of club control after this season. The Marlins are listening, and if they get an overwhelming offer, they might pull the trigger on a deal. But that is risky because it weakens the Miami rotation and reduces overall depth.

Free agency would be the way I’d go, with an eye on signing someone like White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, who has legitimate power that would play at spacious Marlins Park.

Is there a market for ? I think is ready for his spot.
-- @scottyarms

I know there is this narrative that Castro and Diaz, the Marlins’ No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, are connected to each other, and it’s simply not true. Yes, they both play second base. But if the Marlins’ plan was to get Diaz to the big leagues as quickly as possible, he easily could play third, and even get some reps in left field, if necessary. Defensive versatility is vital in the National League. Diaz came up as a shortstop, and has played third base. The Marlins are more interested in Diaz’s development, because the last three months have been the first time in his pro career that the 23-year-old has had sustained success. Clearly, he is viewed as the second baseman of the future, and I see him in Miami no later than mid-August.

As for Castro, to me, it’s 50-50 whether he is traded by the Deadline. He’s making $11 million this year, and he is set to make $16 million in 2020, with a $1 million club option. There isn’t a huge market for him. A trade could go down to the wire.

Who has the higher ceiling, JJ Bleday or Kameron Misner? Who is your favorite Draft pick that nobody is talking about?
-- @takio136

The obvious answer would be Bleday, given that he was the fourth overall pick and is a bit ahead starting off at Class A Advanced Jupiter. Bleday has already shown plenty of promise and he has legit power. He’s also a presence in the middle of the order, and should help improve any lineup he’s a part of. My concern with Bleday is the swing -- he has a lot of bat movement, and development will likely work to clean some of that up. That will be important when he faces higher-level competition, especially against velocity up in the zone.

Misner, meanwhile, has yet to show the big-time power, but I think it’s in there. He’s a terrific athlete, capable of playing center field, and also hitting in the middle of the order.

An under-the-radar pick to follow is 11th rounder Anthony Maldonado from Bethune-Cookman University, signed for $125,000. He’s currently in the Gulf Coast League, his fastball sits in the low 90s and he has a good breaking ball. He has a chance to surprise.

I know a lot of fans are for trading after his last few starts, but do you think the better decision would be to move him to the bullpen? I feel like the ’pen needs work, and Richards could be a centerpiece there.
-- @Wehback

Great question. Richards has drawn plenty of trade interest, even though he’s struggled. In his last seven starts, he’s 0-6 with a 7.32 ERA. Overall, in 20 starts, the 26-year-old is 3-12 (4.62). Certainly, you don’t want to give up on young talent. Richards brings plenty of value, and he has four seasons of club control after this year. That’s why many teams have been in touch with the Marlins about him. But you raise a great point. He ultimately may profile as a long reliever or spot starter. I say that because he has not truly established a third pitch. We all know he has a plus changeup, a pitch opponents are hitting .204 against. But against his curveball and cutter, hitters are .407 and .349, respectively. Richards could provide value as a reliever, where he can be productive with two effective pitches, and mix in a third.

Is there a good possibility we will see back in the Majors once the Trade Deadline has passed?
-- @TDup25

Frankly, I thought Brinson would have been back in the big leagues by now. But, as with Diaz, the Marlins have a long-term plan, and part of that is staying patient. More than just stats, the organization is seeking a sustained stretch where Brinson sticks with an approach that better allows him to cover pitches on the outer part of the plate. That’s been a challenge for him in the big leagues. Once he shows that, he should be back in center field in Miami.