When it comes to the haul of young players the Marlins are stockpiling, there’s no shortage of promise. All of a sudden, after dumping in the neighborhood of $200 million and alienating much of their fan base by trading one veteran after another, they have prospects out the door.
Whether any pan out is the great unknown.
“You may not know them,” Marlins president David Samson said in defending the team’s mega-trade with Toronto on 790The Ticket. “But baseball people do.”
Marlins management blew up its $95 million roster after a 93-loss season and the team’s second last-place finish in a row.
Fans are irate.
Remaining players, such as slugger Giancarlo Stanton, are openly angry.
Even Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado jumped into the fray, writing a letter to Bud Selig in which he implored the Major League Baseball commissioner to reject the trade on behalf of “the residents, taxpayers and fans who are frustrated by the actions of the owner [Jeffrey Loria].”
Though Selig promised a “thorough review” of the deal, he is unlikely to block the trade in which the Marlins are sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck — and, more significantly, $160 million in future contract obligations — to the Blue Jays.
In return, the Marlins received a whole lot of question marks.
Although shortstop Yunel Escobar and backup catcher Jeff Mathis have established track records in the majors, the other five players the Marlins are receiving from Toronto are either light on big-league experience or have none at all. The Marlins plan to shift to Escobar to third base — that is if they don’t trade him and start Adeiny Hechavarria, who also was obtained in the trade, at shortstop.
Independent talent evaluators seem to think the Marlins did OK.
“My position is I like this deal for both sides,” said ESPN baseball analyst Jim Bowden, a former general manager for the Reds and Nationals.
A scout who has studied the Toronto farm system for several years said he thinks the Marlins made out well on the trade, but how well depends on the development of the prospects.
“I’ve seen them all and have a history with all of them, from the instructional league up through the minors,” said the scout, who asked that his name not be used. The scout provided a detailed analysis of four of the five players the Marlins received:
• Outfielder Jake Marisnick, 21, (.249 with eight home runs and 24 stolen bases last season at Single A and Double A): “I think that he is a high-risk, high-reward type guy,” the scout said. “If he figures it out with his bat, if he makes contact, you’ve got yourself a front-line outfielder.”
• Left-handed pitcher Justin Nicolino, 20, (10-4 with a 2.46 ERA last season at Single A): “I think there’s a really good chance he’ll pitch in the big leagues as a back-of-the-rotation guy. He’s a fourth starter for me in the future.”
• Adeiny Hechavarria, 23, (.254 with two home runs in 41 games with the Blue Jays): “He’s going to be an everyday shortstop and he’s got a good chance to be a star in the big leagues.”
• Right-handed pitcher Henderson Alvarez, 22, (9-14 with a 4.85 ERA in 31 starts for the Blue Jays): “I love him. If he develops a third pitch, I think he’s a top-of-the-rotation guy.”
The Marlins also are receiving right-handed pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, 22.
The Marlins have reached into their past by agreeing to sign 35-year-old outfielder Juan Pierre, a key component on their 2003 World Series team, to a 1-year deal worth $1.6 million. Pierre hit .307 and stole 37 bases for the Phillies last season.