Mat Latos and Michael Morse arrived at Marlins Park on Thursday still wondering how much longer they would be Miami Marlins.
A few hours later, they found out.
Latos and Morse, who both grew up playing baseball in Broward County, learned they were headed across the country after the Marlins traded them to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a 13-player, three-team deal that also involved the division rival Atlanta Braves.
In exchange, the Marlins received three minor league pitchers — Jeff Brigham, Victor Araujo and Kevin Guzman — from the Dodgers, who agreed to pay Latos and Morse’s remaining salaries. The Marlins are also sending cash considerations to the Dodgers as part of the deal.
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The Marlins also sent their Competitive Balance Round A pick in next year’s draft to the Braves as part of the deal.
“When I have to sit here and say we made a trade and we haven’t added [to the active roster], you know something hasn’t gone right,” said Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill. “We’re sitting at 18 games under .500 and not performing the way we felt this team is capable of performing.”
According to MLB.com, the Dodgers would also acquire starting pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Alex Wood, closer Jim Johnson, infield prospect Jose Peraza and reliever Luis Avilan from the Braves.
The Braves would pick up Cuban infielder Hector Olivera and pitchers Zachary Bird and Paco Rodriguez from the Dodgers in addition to the Marlins’ pick.
Hill said Guzman would report to Single-A Greensboro, and Brigham and Araujo would report to Single-A Jupiter.
All three prospects have been playing at the Single-A level this season for the Dodgers.
Guzman, a 20-year-old, 6-3, 165-pound Venezuelan righty, is 5-7 this season with a 3.90 ERA in 83 innings pitched.
Brigham, a 23-year-old, 6-0, 200-pound right-handed pitcher, is 6-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 14 starts combined at the Class-A and advanced Class-A level. He had 75 strikeouts in 75 innings and has a 1.97 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Araujo, a 22-year old, 5-11, 171-pound Dominican righty, went 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA as a reliever in 32 appearances (50 innings).
“All three of them are talented,” Hill said. “Guzman is a starting pitcher. Brigham has a big arm and we followed him through last year’s draft. Araujo is a reliever with a plus-fastball. We’re looking forward to watching them grow and develop in our system.”
Morse and Latos, both of whom were acquired in the hopes of making a playoff push prior to the season, underperformed and suffered injuries that contributed to their struggles.
Latos, 27, is 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA this season. But the Coconut Creek High alum has turned in four consecutive quality starts with at least six innings and three or fewer runs allowed and has a 2.08 ERA over that span. Latos has a 2.96 ERA over his past seven starts since June 13 when he came off the disabled list (knee inflammation). Latos is 3-1 this season with a 3.05 ERA against NL West teams not including the Dodgers, against whom he did not pitch.
“We wanted to extract value for a pitcher in Mat Latos who is a free-agent-to-be and in the process replenish a minor-league system that over the past 12 months we’ve sent a lot of pieces out the door,” Hill said. “This was a move to try and add some depth back into our system. It’s tough for us to include any type of picks because we are built through the draft. You look out on the field and you look at Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez. That’s through the draft and that’s how we are able to compete.”
Morse, 33, hit just .214 with four homers and 12 RBI in 52 games, and hit .091 in 22 at-bats against lefties this year, with no homers and no RBI. At home, Morse hit .149 with no homers, had a .171 on-base percentage and a .176 slugging average. Morse suffered a sprained right finger injury May 24, which contributed to his struggles.
Hill said the emergence of Justin Bour during that DL stint factored in the decision.
“We brought [Morse] in to try to provide offense and run production to our lineup, and to this point, he hasn’t been able to do that,” Hill said. “When he was injured, Bour really stepped up and has shown he is a part of our future. We wanted to give him the opportunity to play and see what he’s capable of doing.”