When Jarred Cosart last pitched Saturday at Minute Maid Park in Houston, the Marlins pounded him to the tune of five runs and seven hits.
When the 24-year-old right-hander gets back on the mound Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds, he’ll be trying to lead those same guys who just beat him toward the playoffs.
The Marlins acquired Cosart, outfielder Enrique “Kike” Hernandez and minor-league outfielder Austin Wates on Thursday mere seconds before the 4 p.m. trade deadline. How close was it?
“It might be the all-time closest for us,” said Mike Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. “[Jeff] Conine was running around saying his was the closest back in ’03. His was like 45 seconds before the deadline. This one was under that.”
Cosart had gone 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 20 starts this season for Houston. Hernandez, a 22-year-old rookie, is capable of playing several positions as both an outfielder and an infielder.
While the Marlins were hoping to obtain a starting pitcher who could help them not only this season, but in the future, they did not want to give up players on their big-league roster.
But they did give up a hefty package from their farm: 2013 first-round pick Colin Moran, outfielder Jake Marisnick, minor-league pitcher Francis Martes and a compensation pick in next year’s draft.
“We did give up a lot, but as we told you guys the starting pitching market is very expensive and we’re very happy to have acquired Jarred Cosart,” Hill said. “His ceiling, the power [a fastball in the upper 90s], the stuff. Three-plus pitches. He kind of fits who we are. And we think he’ll fit in nicely with our existing inventory as someone we can grow with.”
Cosart, a player Hill said has No. 2 to No. 4 starter-type potential, has five more years of team control after this one and is not eligible for free agency until 2020. His addition means Jacob Turner will head back to the bullpen. Left-handed reliever Dan Jennings and utility man Ed Lucas were expected to be optioned back to the minors to provide space on the 25-man roster for Cosart and Hernandez.
Hill said the Marlins had a laundry list of controllable starting pitchers they liked. David Price, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Tommy Milone — all big names dealt to other teams Thursday — were all players the Marlins had inquired about.
But in the end the only discussion that grew legs, Hill said, was the one the Marlins ultimately pulled the trigger on right before the gun.
Hernandez, 22, could eventually become a long-term solution at second base. He was hitting .284 with one homer and eight RBI for the Astros in 24 games before being dealt.
“We love the bat,” Hill said. “He was leading the [Pacific Coast League] in hitting before he got called up with Houston. We’d seen a lot of him through the Puerto Rican Winter League, and Triple A and the big leagues. What you’re seeing offensively is not a surprise by our evaluation.
“Our focus was always a starting pitcher, but once you got into discussions with Houston, and they did have a second baseman that you liked you wanted to try to steer things towards getting what you wanted, especially at the cost of the players that were being discussed. So this is another piece that we can grow with moving forward.”