Able to overcome a COVID-19 outbreak early in the season, the Marlins approach the Trade Deadline on Monday firmly in contention for the National League East title as well as a Wild Card spot.
The front office had made more than 90 roster moves, and still Miami is in the race. For that fact alone, manager Don Mattingly, his staff and the players all deserve credit for staying mentally strong through so much adversity.
Remember, this was a club that had 18 players test positive for the virus within in the first week, and then went eight straight days without playing a game. With a patchwork roster, the Marlins managed to keep the season afloat.
The organization is optimistic moving forward, largely because three starting pitchers, Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and José Ureña, as well as reliever Yimi García, are close to returning.
With the Deadline approaching, the Marlins are open to making moves to help solidify their chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2003, when they won the World Series.
“Our goal is always to be opportunistic,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “If there is a chance, an opportunity for us to improve this roster, then we’ll explore it. That’s always our focus. That’s always our goal.”
An important wrinkle to this year’s Trade Deadline is that teams can only trade players who are part of their 60-man player pool (assigned either to the big league team or the alternate site). Clubs are permitted to include players to be named later in trades, however. Additionally, scouts have not been allowed to attend games in person, so all assessments of prospects have been done based on provided video and data and past knowledge.
Buy: After back-to-back last-place finishes, the Marlins entered this shortened 60-game season with a chip on their shoulder. They’ve made it clear from Day 1 that they were done with building and eager to start contending. “Why not us?” was a slogan Miami has adopted since Spring Training. The organization has a deep farm system and a surplus of outfielders, as well as some big league talent that could be used in potential trades. There is a reluctance to part with top prospects, but if there is a match for a player with controllable years, the Marlins would be open to making a move.
What they want: The Marlins' needs are along the lines of so many other clubs. Reliable bullpen arms are foremost on their wish list. They’ve already been monitoring clubs like the Royals for potential targets. Miami actually has made two trades already for relievers, acquiring lefty Richard Bleier from the Orioles for a player to be named later on Aug. 1 and right-hander Jesús Tinoco from the Rockies for right-hander Chad Smith on Aug. 14. Similar deals by the Deadline are possible. A backup catcher also could be added since Francisco Cervelli is on the 7-day concussion list.
What they have to offer: In recent years, the Marlins took plenty of heat for trading away standouts like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and J.T. Realmuto. In return, those moves helped reload the club's farm system, which is considered in the Top 10 in baseball. Many of those prospects are starting to reach the big leagues. There is outfield depth, and the club would be open to listening on a high-end prospect in a major deal. From the Major League roster, they have outfielder Harold Ramirez and first baseman/designated hitter Garrett Cooper who could be options. Infielder Jonathan Villar, a free agent after the season, could be another trade piece.
Chance of a deal: There’s a 75-percent chance the Marlins do something. Yes, reinforcements are close to coming off the injured list. Still, the front office is monitoring the market, and finding some kind of match for a reliever should be possible.