Compared to preseason expectations, the Miami Marlins are in a fantastic position. No Jose Fernandez, Henderson Alvarez is the next big thing – even though he’s currently not an All-Star despite being among the top five in baseball in ERA at 2.27 – they are only 5.5 games out of a playoff spot despite being 43-46, they got two road series with the NL bottom-feeding Arizona Diamondbacks and the 39-49 New York Mets to close out the first half.
They could potentially go into the All-Star break above .500 and in the very thick of both the NL East and Wild Card race. That being said, the Marlins have two major holes that must be filled in July.
The metaphorical visualization of the Marlins starting rotation resembles that of Two Face; Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi and Tom Koehler represents the beautiful side and the 4-5 guys (Brad Hand, Jacob Turner, Kevin Slowly, Randy Wolf, Anthony DeSclafani, Andrew Heaney and whoever-the-hell-is-next) are clearly the ugly side. They badly need help in that area. Hopefully Hand, who was solid in his last start and is scheduled to start next on Tuesday, who continue to pitch well and have the Marlins just look for one starting pitcher.
They do have options. The Oakland Athletics made a huge trade for Jeff Samardzjia and Jason Hammel on June 3, and thus designated Brad Mills for assignment and optioned Tommy Milone to Triple-A Sacramento. Both the A’s players and manager Bob Melvin voiced their opinions to the Contra Costa Times just how difficult of a move that was for them to make.
"If you're in my position, what do you even say to a guy like that?," Melvin said. "Not only has he been terrific here in his last 10 starts, he has meant a lot to us for three years now. That one was awfully hard. It really took quite a while trying to figure out what I would say to him, but really nothing came to mind. He was a little bit shocked and understandably so, but you haven't seen the last of Tommy Milone here."
"I feel terrible for him," said closer Sean Doolittle. "He's one of the most liked guys in this clubhouse and a great teammate. It was really tough when I walked in here today and saw him cleaning out his locker, for sure."
Added catcher/outfielder Stephen Vogt, "This game is cruel sometimes. Tommy's earned his spot in the big leagues and I'm sure he'll be back soon. He's going to be a big part of this team going down the stretch, there's no doubt in my mind about that."
Not unless the Marlins trade for him. There’s nothing in the way of Major League help that the Athletics need, but the Marlins can use their prospects as means to acquire Milone. It might cost them Andrew Heaney, their top lefty prospect, but it is well worth the high quality stuff/results that Milone will bring until his free agent year in 2018.
But that is more of a reach. Acquiring Brad Mills would be more a realistic grab for the Fish. Don’t be fooled by the 4.41 ERA. Mills allowed no more than three runs in each of his three starts, along with 14 strikeouts in 16.1 innings pitched. He also turned in a 1.56 ERA and a 9.24 K/9 through 75 innings (14 appearances, 12 starts) with the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.
Mills was designated for assignment as part of the Samardzjia trade aftermath and would make a lot of sense for the Marlins to acquire him.
They also need a sure thing at second base. Both Rafael Furcal and Derek Dietrich are injured and weren’t really playing in an All-Star level when they were healthy. There are plenty of options available.
The Chicago White Sox have made second baseman Gordon Beckham available for trade, as reported by Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi. The 27-year-old Beckham has had his moments at the plate but is not immune to the disabled list. He’s currently hitting .248/.302/.395 and is under team control through 2015.
Beckham is also earning $4.18MM this season after avoiding arbitration for the second time this season. With his salary and production (7 home runs and 24 runs batted in), Beckham is really a more expensive Derek Dietrich. It would be safe to consider him as a buy-low option.
As mentioned in my previous piece, I considered Diamondbacks pitcher Bronson Arroyo, along with infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado, to be a logical trade target for the Marlins. It has just been announced by the team that Arroyo has a torn UCL and will require Tommy John surgery.
So if Marlins general manager Dan Jennings plans on doing a little trade deadline spitball with the Diamondbacks brass whether it be baseball chief Tony LaRussa or GM Kevin Towers or even CEO Derek Hall, the likely targets would be Hill or Prado.
The Diamondbacks has a lot of depth in the middle infield but have no plans on trading their younger infielders such as rookie Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings and Didi Dregorious. Both Hill and Prado are signed through 2016 and both are currently struggling at the moment.
Prado is struggling to a .268/.314/.357 slash line and Hill is worse (.241/.278/.359) but Hill currently has 42 RBIs in 84 games which puts him on pace for 80 RBIs, something that the Marlins would gladly take.
We’ve seen this from Hill before. In 2011, Hill struggled with similar numbers in 104 games with the Toronto Blue Jays who were dead last in the Al East with no hopes of contending for the postseason. He hit .315 with the Diamondbacks after being acquired in August just in time for the NL West divisional race.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson’s explanation to me was that Hill had nothing to play for Toronto and being in his first playoff race inspired him to hit better. Safe to say whoever trades for him will get a better Aaron Hill than what the Diamondbacks are currently getting.
Unless more starting pitchers and second basemen become available for trade, the best course of action realistically for the Marlins is to acquire Aaron Hill and Brad Mills.