Steve Cishek became the first trade chip to fall for the Marlins, who dealt the long-time bullpen fixture Friday to the St. Louis Cardinals for a minor-league reliever.
The Marlins received Double A closer Kyle Barraclough from St. Louis.
Cishek, whose 94 saves rank third on the Marlins’ all-time list but lost the closer’s role in mid-May after four blown saves to start the season, probably won’t be the first Marlin to be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline.
The Marlins, who owned the second-worst record in the majors heading into Friday, are looking to trade other players, most notably pending free agent starting pitchers Mat Latos and Dan Haren.
“We haven’t, by any means, given up on the season,” said Marlins assistant general manager Mike Berger of the trade. “There’s a lot of season left to play. But you always have to have an eye on the future.”
Because of arbitration-driven salary increases, Cishek was a likely non-tender candidate following the season. He was making $6.65 million this season. As part of Friday’s trade, the Cardinals agreed to pick up the remainder still owed to him.
“I’m thankful to the Marlins organization and the fans for the support and love they have showed me over my tenure here,” Cishek said via text message. “It was a honor to play with these guys, and I will miss them.”
The Marlins also had discussions with the Pirates and Dodgers for Cishek.
But the Cards, looking to bolster their late-inning relief depth, are banking on the 29-year-old sidearm-throwing reliever to recapture some of his previous form. Since returning from his demotion to the minors in June, Cishek made 13 relief appearances in a setup role and gave up just one earned run in 122/3 innings for a 0.71 ERA. Cishek made his final appearance as a Marlin in Thursday’s 4-0 win over San Diego, working a 1-2-3 eighth.
“He was my throwing partner for four years and I’m very excited for him,” Marlins reliever Mike Dunn said. “He’s going to a team that’s in first place. He’s going to have a great chance to win and play deep into the playoffs with that team. It stinks to see a friend like that go. But you’re also happy for him for the situation he’s going to.”
Barraclough, 25, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2012 out of St. Mary’s (Calif.) College.
A right-hander, Barraclough began the season at Single A before being promoted to the Cardinals’ Double A affiliate. Overall this season, Barraclough -- who is considered a mid-level prospect -- has gone 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 12 saves.
“Kyle’s a power right-hander,” Berger said. “We’ve had him up to 98 (mph) with flashes of a power slider. There’s some inconsistencies with the command. But the ability to access another power arm in the back of the bullpen bodes well. A couple of our scouts have identified him as an individual who could be a quick climber.”
Berger said Barraclough will likely start out at Double A Jacksonville.
To replace Cishek on the roster, the Marlins called up right-handed pitcher Andre Rienzo from Triple A New Orleans.
▪ Late Thursday night, Tom Koehler turned in seven scoreless innings to pocket the victory as the Marlins won their third in a row with a 4-0 win over the Padres. Koehler’s 18 wins since the start of the 2014 season is the most for any Marlins pitcher. His 3.16 ERA this season ranks 16th among National League starters — and best on the Marlins — with at least 80 innings under their belt.
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP David Phelps (4-6, 3.91 ERA) at San Diego Padres RHP Ian Kennedy (5-9, 4.78), 8:40 p.m., Petco Park.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Mat Latos (4-6, 4.48) at Padres RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (3-7, 4.98), 4:10 p.m., Petco Park.