Barry Jackson

What Marlins are thinking approaching the July 31 trade deadline

Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler is among those available leading up to the late July trade deadline.
Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler is among those available leading up to the late July trade deadline. Getty Images

What’s the Marlins’ position as far as dealing players before the July 31 trade deadline?

Here’s what we’re hearing from two MLB sources briefed on the situation:

The Marlins are not actively shopping players, and do not need to trim their $100 million payroll further, but all of their veterans who are into their arbitration or free agent years are considered available: Brad Ziegler, Derek Dietrich, Dan Straily, Justin Bour and Starlin Castro.

The Marlins obviously would have no expectation of anyone trading for Martin Prado (due $13.5 million this season, $15 million in 2019) or Wei-Yin Chen (due $20 million in 2019, $22 million in 2020).

Of that group, there has been no market so far for Bour (nearly all teams are set at first base) or Castro.

Bour is earning $3.4 million and under team control through 2020. He’s batting a career-low .230 but his on-base average (.356) is on par with his career average. He’s still hitting for power (13 homers).

It would be ideal if the Marlins can see what they have in Garrett Cooper, who’s very close to returning to the majors from a wrist injury, before making a decision on Bour, should any team make an offer. There’s nobody else at or close to major-league level who would be well-equipped to take over at first base beyond Cooper, because the Marlins unfortunately cannot clone Brian Anderson to play three positions.

No team has seriously pursued Castro, who’s making $10 million this year and $11 million next year, with a $16 million team option (or $1 million buyout) for 2020. But the Marlins would have interest in dealing him if they get a decent offer, according to a source.

There’s an expectation that Ziegler (an impending free agent earning $9 million) and Straily will draw interest before the deadline. Ziegler (0-5, 5.08) appears most likely to be moved, though a significant return isn’t expected.

Straily, earning $3.4 million and under team control through 2020, has been erratic (3-4, 4.70) but could draw interest from a contender seeking a fifth starter. Baltimore explored trading for him last winter.

Dietrich (.287, 11, 30) hasn’t drawn much interest yet but expect inquires from American League teams before the deadline. Though the Marlins have been happy with him, keep in mind the Marlins value high-end outfielder defenders in their spacious ballpark, and Dietrich — for all his good qualities — will never be that. He’s making $2.9 million and under team control through 2020.

One official said the Marlins are asking for a large return for any team that inquires about relievers Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider or Adam Conley. An official from another team said that’s especially the case with Barraclough. The Marlins are getting calls on all three.

All are young, cheap and productive and under team control for a while — Barraclough and Conley through 2021, Steckenrider through 2023.

The Marlins want to keep catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is under team control through 2020, and have internally discussed the possibility of making a long-term offer. A team would need to make an astronomical offer for Miami to even consider a trade.

The Marlins have had mixed success in recent years when they have traded veteran players to contenders in July the past five years. Examining their track record with the prospects those summer deals netted:

GREAT TRADE

Trading Steve Cishek to St. Louis for Barraclough in July 2015. This was an enlightened move to flip Cishek, who was due a big raise in arbitration that offseason, for Barraclough, who has developed into a capable closer, with eight saves, a 0.99 ERA and 10 hits allowed in 36 innings entering Monday.

Cishek, for his part, remains effective. He has pitched for three teams since leaving and is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA as a setup man for the Cubs.

VERY PROMISING TRADE

Dealing David Phelps (who learned in March he needed Tommy John surgery and is out for the year) to Seattle in July 2017 for minor-leaguers Pablo Lopez, Brandon Miller, Brayan Hernandez and Lukas Schiraldi.

Lopez has been terrific, producing a 1.44 ERA in the minors this season and winning his first major-league start for Miami on Saturday.

Schiraldi has been very good in Class A Jupiter, with a 1.69 ERA and 10 saves.

Hernandez, a 20-year-old center fielder considered at the time of the deal to have the highest ceiling of the four, has been limited to eight games because of injury in the low-level minors. Miller is 2-7, 5.96 at Class A Greensboro.

JURY OUT

1. Dealing shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to Tampa in June 2017 for outfielder Braxton Lee and pitcher Ethan Clark. Hechavarria has been for Tampa pretty much what he was for Miami — a skilled fielder and average hitter (.258 in a season-and-a-half there).

After leading the Southern League in batting at .309 last year, Lee made the Marlins out of spring training but hit 3 for 17 and was demoted to the minors, injured his hamstring and is now hitting .205 in 21 games at Triple A New Orleans. The 24-year-old center fielder is Miami’s No. 14 overall prospect.

Clark is 0-2, 4.12 at Class A Jupiter.

2. Dealing reliever A.J. Ramos to the Mets in July 2017 for pitcher Merandy Gonzalez and outfielder Ricardo Cespedes.

Ramos is out for the year with a shoulder injury, while Gonzalez and Cespedes remain decent prospects. Gonzalez was 2-0, 5.71 for the Marlins earlier this year and is 0-2, 5.40 in Double A. Cespedes, 20, is hitting .314 (11 for 35) in the low-level minors.

NOTHING MEANINGFUL ACHIEVED

1. Dealing Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers in July 2013 for Steve Ames (ended up pitching in only four MLB games), Angel Sanchez (went on to pitch no MLB games for the Marlins, eight for Pirates) and Josh Wall (never pitched in majors).

2. Dealing Dan Haren to the Cubs in July 2015 for minor-league pitcher Ivan Pineiro and shortstop Elliot Soto, both of whom are in other team’s minor-league systems this year and haven’t pitched in the majors. Haren went 4-2, 4.01 for the Cubs that season before retiring.

WORKED OUT POORLY

Trading Sam Dyson to Texas Rangers for pitcher Cody Ege and catcher Tomas Telis. Dyson has saved 57 games since that trade, though he has been up and down as the Giants’ closer recently. Telis, a disappointment, has hit .225 in 98 games for the Marlins (he's no longer on their big-league roster) and Ege had a 12.00 ERA in a very short Marlins stint (five games in 2016).

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