As of Tuesday afternoon, the Miami Marlins have a 20-18 record, good for third place in the National League East. However, they could be losing one of their biggest stars.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Dr. Neal ElAttrache diagnosed Miami ace Jose Fernandez with a "significant tear" of his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and recommended him for surgery. Fernandez was placed on the disabled list Monday with a right elbow injury and has undergone two MRIs in the past 24 hours.
Regardless of whether Fernandez has the surgery done or not, chances are he'll be out for most, if not all of 2014. Despite losing the leader of their rotation, the Marlins still shouldn't punt on this season.
It's an understatement to say that the Marlins aren't World Series favorites this year, or even a likely pick to make the playoffs. That being said, they've managed to post a .526 winning percentage over a 38-game span, proving that this roster has the pieces to get it done. So, when the trade deadline rolls around, Miami should be inclined to hold onto its veterans.
Of course, if quality big league-ready prospects are being offered in deals for Garrett Jones or Casey McGehee, Dan Jennings and company shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger. That will only strengthen an already-solid core of young talent going into 2015.
But if the Marlins are looking at marginal returns or prospects that are still multiple years from the big leagues in exchange for their expiring contracts, keeping those players around as a veteran presence might prove more valuable for the Marlins. Allowing young players like Yelich, Ozuna, etc. to experience a winning atmosphere will prove valuable when the team is ready to be a contender in 2015.
In addition to hanging on to McGehee, Jones, etc., the Marlins should actually consider being a buyer come the July trade deadline. While expiring contracts like Jason Hammel and Chase Headley won't do anything for Miami, players under contract beyond 2014 (David Price, Jeff Samardzija, etc.) would be worth pursuing in an effort to build for the 2015 season.
While Price might be a reach (though not unattainable if Jennings were motivated), Samardzija could certainly be an option. With a farm system deep in pitching, the Marlins could afford to send young arms Justin Nicolino and Trevor Williams to Chicago along with outfielder Jake Marisnick and catcher Austin Barnes to make a very formidable package.
With Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich already manning all three outfield spots, Marisnick is expendable, while Miami has enough pitching (Fernandez, Eovaldi, newly-acquired Samardzija, Alvarez, Heaney, Conley, etc.) to part with Nicolino and Williams.
Again, it's fair to say that the Marlins probably won't be doing any serious damage this season, but they have an opportunity to position themselves for a very successful 2015 if they do things right. By adding some quality veterans to their talented young core and establishing a competitive atmosphere in the club house, they just might be able to challenge the Braves and Nationals for the division crown next season.