With the Aug. 1 trading deadline fast approaching, the Marlins are in an all-out drive to pull off a deal for a starting pitcher.
Whether they’re successful remains to be seen.
“It’s hard to tell because there’s so few options,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, on whether he thinks he can complete a deal before the deadline.
Hill would prefer the Marlins acquire a No. 3 starter via a trade, a quality arm and not just some innings-eater. But this year’s talent pool is thin, and what few pitchers being made available are in high demand. It’s a seller’s, not a buyer’s, market.
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“Traditionally, you get to this time of year and the free agents-to-be are available,” Hill said of pitchers that out-of-contention teams would prefer to trade rather than lose to free agency.
But the upcoming free agent pitching class isn’t particularly notable.
Complicating matters for the Marlins is that their farm system isn’t exactly brimming with top prospects other teams would covet in a trade. The Marlins lack trade assets, relatively speaking, that they could use to broker a deal.
As a result, sources said other teams are countering the Marlins’ trade offers with demands they give up players off their major-league roster, something Hill is loathe to do.
In particular, sources said, other teams constantly ask about outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Marlins have no desire to trade either.
“They’re justified in asking for major league productive pieces, but we’re trying to add,” Hill said. “We’re not trying to create another hole somewhere else. We’re trying to add to our current inventory at the major league level, and not take away from that.”
The Marlins have been connected to close to a dozen names — Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Rich Hill, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, Andrew Cashner and others — but the list of candidates is longer than that.
“The list is vast and every name that you see out there we’re following,” Hill said. “We have them prioritized as to who’s at the top of the wish list. We know who we’d like to get. That doesn’t mean they’re available.”
Hill said he is in daily contact with the team’s pro scouting staff, as well as owner Jeffrey Loria, who is deeply involved in trade matters.
“We haven’t been this close in a long time, and this club, as I’ve said, is ready to win,” Hill said of the Marlins, who are playing their best baseball in years. “So if the opportunity presents itself, I think we’re going to do everything in our power to make it happen.”
ON THE MEND
First baseman Justin Bour’s return from the disabled list continues to be delayed by a high ankle sprain that is limiting his agility.
“Not a lot of progress,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Tuesday. “He just hasn’t been able to get the agility, the movement. So he’s still creeping along.”
The Marlins thought Bour would begin agility exercises Monday. But that didn’t happen.
Mattingly said Bour could begin taking batting practice with the Marlins when they return home from their road trip. After that, Bour would be sent out on a rehab assignment before the Marlins would consider taking him off the DL.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 4.90) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jeremy Hellickson (6-7, 4.03), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (6-8, 4.68) at Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (6-10, 3.76), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.