Marlins finalize 3-team deal to land prospects
Latos, Morse head to Dodgers; Braves acquire Competitive Balance pick
MIAMI -- When the Marlins reshaped their roster this past offseason, making a number of high-profile additions, they anticipated being serious contenders. The last thing they thought they'd be doing is selling at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
But on Thursday afternoon, after taking a 1-0 loss to the Nationals that dropped them to 18 games below .500, the Marlins finalized a three-team trade that sends right-handed starter Mat Latos, first baseman Michael Morse and cash to the Dodgers. From Los Angeles, Miami received pitching prospects Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman.
Rounding out the transaction, the Marlins sent their Competitive Balance pick (No. 34 overall) in the 2016 Draft to the Braves.
"When I have to sit here and say that we made a trade and we haven't added, it means that something has not gone right," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "As we currently sit right now, we're 18 games under .500 and not performing the way that we felt like this team was capable of performing."
The 23-year-old Brigham appears to have the highest ceiling of Miami's newcomers. Selected in the fourth round of the 2014 Draft by Los Angeles, Brigham ranks as the No. 22 prospect in the Marlins' system, according to MLBPipeline.com. The 6-foot righty underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2012, but now that he's fully recovered, he flashes a 90- to 94-mph fastball that has hit 97 and has hard arm-side run and sink at its best. Brigham can also throw a hard, low-80s slider that shows signs of being a slurve.
Brigham worked seven innings of one-run ball across two appearances for Class A Great Lakes this season before being promoted to Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, for whom he has gone 4-5 with a 5.96 ERA over 17 outings (14 starts).
Araujo, 22, sports a 90- to 94-mph fastball that features some sinking and cutting action, and he backs it up with a low-80s slider that has some tilt. The righty appeared in 32 games, all as a reliever, for Rancho Cucamonga this year, posting a 5.40 ERA and recording 55 strikeouts and 14 walks.
The 20-year-old Guzman went 5-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 17 outings (15 starts) for Great Lakes before being dealt.
Once the deal was officially announced, it closed the book on one of the wildest transactions in the club's recent history.
Initially, the Marlins were ironing out a trade with the Dodgers. It was almost completed late Tuesday night, but on Wednesday, Los Angeles engaged Atlanta, making it a mega-deal.
When Morse arrived at Marlins Park on Thursday morning, the last thing he anticipated was being called upon to pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth inning against Nats closer Jonathan Papelbon. Under the impression he was being traded to the Dodgers, Morse instead found himself striking out to end the game.
"It was definitely weird," Morse said. "I don't know what's going on. It was weird."
About an hour after the game, Morse and Latos were informed that the deal was official.
Like Morse, Latos wasn't expecting to spend the day in a Miami uniform. He actually played catch pregame, treating the day like any other.
"I'm just employee No. 35 for right now, and I'm just hanging out," said Latos, referring to his jersey number, shortly after arriving.
Los Angeles will assume the remainder of Morse's two-year, $16 million contract, along with the rest of Latos' $9.4 million salary.
"The salaries are gone now," Hill said. "That was part of the transaction. We'll look for ways to try to upgrade our roster and give us an opportunity to win."
Asked if he had a good night's sleep, Latos responded: "No. I did not. I'm running on about two hours."
Latos expected to wake up Thursday and be informed that he was going to the Dodgers.
"I was like, 'Oh, yeah, I've been traded,'" Latos said. "I'm going to come in, I'm going to pack myself up, say goodbye to the guys and go to L.A. Nope."
Although the deal dragged for nearly two days, all sides had until Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline to complete the transaction.
The Marlins will fill the roster spot formerly held by Morse on Friday by activating infielder Donovan Solano from the paternity list.
Morse, who batted .213 with four homers and 12 RBIs, became expendable because Miami likes what it has been seeing from Justin Bour at first base.
"We brought Michael Morse in to be a part of the solution and provide offense and run production in our lineup," Hill said. "To this point, he hadn't been able to do that. In his absence, when he was injured, Justin Bour has really stepped up and shown that he is a part of our future moving forward. We wanted to give him an opportunity to play."
Latos, 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA, was lined up to start on Saturday. The club will decide which internal option is best suited to step up. One candidate is lefty Justin Nicolino, who is currently pitching for Triple-A New Orleans.
If the Marlins make another move by the Deadline, it could involve right-hander Dan Haren, who pitched six innings of one-run ball on Thursday. If nothing is official by Friday evening, the 34-year-old starter is a candidate to be dealt in August, when players must first clear waivers.
"Until the Deadline is up, you never know what will happen," Hill said. "But it's our job to try to improve this ballclub. We're 18 games under .500. We're not playing to the talent in that clubhouse. If there are ways to improve, we're going to look to do so."