The Marlins have a well-documented history of selling key pieces off their roster this time of year.
Should they make any moves in the three days left before this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, expect them to get a pretty good haul in return since they’re prioritizing the organization’s long-term success.
In that sense, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Saturday that the club’s philosophy feels different than in years past.
“I think in general it feels like the whole organization is together on the philosophy [regarding any trades],” Mattingly said. “We’re trying to keep our players. We’re trying to win and trying to evaluate if we’re making a deal we want to make a baseball deal and not a deal that fits right now and doesn’t fit looking forward.”
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Reports surfaced Saturday that the Marlins are still discussing a potential trade for J.T. Realmuto with the Nationals, and that Washington was willing to consider including top prospects Victor Robles and Spencer Kieboom in such a deal.
The Marlins are listening, but no deal appears imminent and the club is maintaining its stance in those discussions that any such asset would come at a very high price.
“I feel like our process is a lot more solid this year just from a standpoint of making a clear baseball decision and making it from a standpoint of, ‘Where are we going and what are we trying to accomplish? Does this fit into our plan?
“The organization as a whole is making decisions based on trying to do the right thing for the organization as a whole.”
The Marlins, who entered Saturday’s game against the Nationals with a 44-61 record and 13 games behind the National League’s second Wild Card spot, have other controllable assets such as closer Kyle Barraclough attracting interest from contending teams.
But the Marlins have made it clear that they are emphasizing their efforts to continue to bolster their farm system and painstakingly consider any possible trades that would involve players that fit their long-term plan.
Marlins Vice President of Player Development and Scouting Gary Denbo said during the recent draft that the club targeted athletic players that could play positions up the middle of the field and pitchers that were “strike throwers.”
Mattingly said many more factors play a role these days within the organization when considering trade offers.
“The decision-making process is bigger now,” Mattingly said. “It’s got analytics involved with the whole department. It’s got Gary [Denbo] involved. It’s got our development guys involved. I think in general as an organization you’re making decisions based on where are we going and if we’re talking about moving a guy, we’re talking about a guy that we probably don’t think will fit with us when we’re ready to go.
“I think that’s the biggest thing is making sure we’re making moves for the future and not letting guys go that are a part of our future.”
Mattingly said such thinking began last year when the Marlins dealt pitchers David Phelps and A.J. Ramos before the deadline. Both were due to become free agents at the end of this season.
The Marlins do not feel any need to move pitchers such as Barraclough or Adam Conley, both of whom wouldn’t become free agents until the end of the 2021 season or Drew Steckenrider (end of 2023 season).
The same goes for Realmuto, a free agent at the end of the 2020 season, in spite of him being arbitration eligible next year.
By moving Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in the offseason, the Marlins shed some of their largest contracts.
And while one large contract still remains with starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, the Marlins aren’t in a desperate need to shed payroll as before.
“Last year around this time we were making more futuristic decisions on the guys we were moving,” Mattingly said. “You didn’t think these guys would be there when we were ready. Now you have some guys that haven’t even gotten to arbitration yet so you have guys you can control and that we feel can be a part of a winning future.”