With the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter Marlins ownership group expected to trim payroll, we solicited imput from two former general managers (ex-Nationals GM Jim Bowden and ex-Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd) on what some of their top players could command in trades:
• Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. He’s due $25 million next season and between $25 million and $32 million each of the next 10.
He has a no-trade clause (but is expected to waive it if he’s dealt to a contender) and has an opt-out after 2020, which seems unlikely to be exercised unless he’s extraordinary in 2019.
The Marlins believe they will have one aggressive suitor this winter (the Giants) and probably others, such as the Cardinals.
“I think they will find someone who will take most of the contract; I hate to say all because in every negotiation, you have to pay it down some,” said Bowden, who works for Sirius XM radio. “There are enough big market teams that would take most of it.
“The bigger question is will he waive his no trade? I can’t see him waiving his no trade to go to Philadelphia. As bad as San Francisco is, why go there and not win? I look at the Dodgers and they have a lot of money coming off their books. Maybe the Angels. But the Angels and Giants have thin farm systems, so what would the Marlins get back from those two?
“You should be able to get a package of three good prospects for him. If you’re the Marlins, you’re not getting equal value if the other team is” paying most of the contract.
Bowden said “with the Dodgers, what I think would be fair would be [outfielder] Yasiel Puig and a mid-level prospect and a top pitching prospect but not their top top [two pitching prospects]. Puig is a Gold Glover this year, would be a favorite in a market like Miami. Puig, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna would be good outfield.”
O’Dowd’s take: “Philly is the one club with the financial wherewithal to trade for Stanton, but I’m not sure he would accept a trade there. He would bring back high end prospects because he's unique. Maybe you will get major league players back for Stanton but that would be rather difficult to do.”
• Outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Eligible for free agency after 2019. Is arbitration-eligible this winter and due to command far more the next two years than his $3.5 million salary in 2017.
“You would get a better return for Ozuna than Stanton because you don’t have to worry about the money issue,” Bowden said. “Plus, he can’t control his destiny [because he has no no-trade clause]. Teams would line up for Ozuna. There would be an open bidding war. An open bidding war gets you more than a closed one. He’s such a great player.”
• Outfielder Christian Yelich. Has a very reasonable contract, worth $7 million, $9.7 million, $12.5 million, $14 million and $15 million (team option) over the next five years.
Bowden: “You look a team like the Royals; they will have money to spend but might not be able to spend what” their own free agent bats will command, including Eric Hosmer. “There are people who want Yelich to have a better launch angle. He could win a batting title some day. Still a star player. You would get a big return for him no doubt.”
O’Dowd: “Of all their players, I would say Yelich is No. 1 in trade value. [Catcher] J.T. Realmuto also would get a ton of play.”
• Third baseman Martin Prado. Will be very difficult to trade, because he’s due $13.5 and $15 million the next two seasons, hit .250, is 33 and missed all but 37 games due to injury this season.
“Not tradable; you would have to eat the money to trade him,” Bowden said. “You’re better off having him play half the year, and trade him at the trade deadline when he has some value.”
• Second baseman Dee Gordon. He’s due $10.5 million, $13 million and $13.5 million the next three seasons, with a $14 million club option (or $1 million buyout) in 2021.
“It’s a tradable contract; he’s got great value,” Bowden said. “He’s in the conversation with Yelich. Look at the Cubs’ record with Dexter Fowler leading off last year and this year without a leadoff hitter. Dee Gordon is a difference maker. He would be for the Cubs. How many protypical leadoff hitters are there? He’s a great defender, can lead the league in stolen bases.”
O’Dowd disagrees: “I don't think you will get a ton back for Gordon because of the contract. If you look at his overall game, his on base percentage is [just] OK. Unless Dee is going to be that .320 hitter or above, that contract doesn't look good.”
He hit .308 this season and led baseball with 60 steals.
• Dan Straily: Pitched generally well this season (10-9, 4.26 ERA) and has value because he’s under team control through the 2020 season. Arbitration eligible and will get a raise from $552,000.
Bowden said he would be open to trading him and if he were the Marlins he would make the exact type of trade the Reds made with the Marlins last winter – Straily for pitching prospect Luis Castillo (who was 3-7 with a 3.12 for the Reds and impressed everyone).
“You would like to make the Castillo trade in reverse,” Bowden said. “If the Reds did it, why can’t the Marlins [this winter]? I want longterm success so my goal is to build a starting rotation that wins longterm and I take any of these assets and turn them into a future rotation.
“So I don’t think there’s anyone you can say you’re not going to trade. You have to listen on anyone. If you are challenged economically like they are, you are looking for controllable, inexpensive players that are not eligible for arbitration yet.”
• Impossible to trade: Wei Yin-Chen, due $18 million, $20 million and $22 million the next three seasons and coming off two injury-plagued seasons, and Edinson Volquez, who must be paid $13 million next season but could miss all of 2018 after Tommy John surgery.
• Very difficult to trade: Relievers Junichi Tazawa (5.69 ERA and due $7 million next season in final year of deal) or Brad Ziegler (pitched better when needed to be the closer late in the season, but due $9 million in final year of deal in 2018).
“Those salaries, if you didn’t have them on your books, would pay for Yelich and Ozuna,” Bowden said. “That’s the absurdity” of giving those contracts last winter.
• While it would seemingly would be surprising if the Marlins trade Realmuto or Justin Bour – both are still very cheap – it cannot be ruled out if the Marlins can get multiple top prospects for either.
It’s highly unlikely Miami trades Kyle Barraclough or Jose Urena.
Derek Dietrich is still very affordable and could be needed as a regular if an outfielder is traded, though Don Mattingly likes him more as a backup who plays a lot. O’Dowd had some other interesting things to say that we will run in a column in the coming weeks.