With the trade deadline looming, the Florida Marlins, following an embarrassing 10-0 thrashing by the Rockies, are sitting 10 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, and 6.5 back of the Reds for the NL Wild Card.
Unless the Marlins dominate in the final two games of this Colorado series and sweep or at least take two from the Braves and Giants, they will be virtually out of the playoff hunt. The question then is, buy or sell?
I don't think the Marlins have ever been buyers at the deadline, and have made quite a name for themselves by selling talent for average prospects (Miguel Cabrera, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, virtually every player in the MLB, etc.) Last year the Fish brought in 1B Nick Johnson, who proved to be a solid acquisition to make a push for the playoffs at the end of the year. This year, barring a miracle, the Marlins will be selling and, subsequently, missing the playoffs.
But who? Second baseman Dan Uggla and corner infielder Jorge Cantu have sparked the most interest, and the Fish are probably willing to sell either of them.
Uggla's one-year deal is expiring this offseason, and even if he is re-signed for another year, he's likely to be dealt by the next trade deadline where he probably won't get as much interest and as a result, the Marlins will have to settle for less. Financially, as the only team with a salary minimum, the Fish might be forced to hang on to Uggla to keep that salary as high as Mr. Moneybags Loria will let it be. The Rockies showed real interest in Uggla, and that seems the perfect fit for the slugging 2B, Coors Field. The Tigers and Red Sox, along with the Yankees, Rangers, Braves, and Phillies all also made moves to express their interest in Uggla. My prediction: He isn't dealt, slugs 30 HR's before the deadline next year, and is dealt to the Yankees, who buy him for cash and prospects.
Jorge Cantu was the other big name generating interest. He started red-hot, has since cooled drastically, but he can be a force to be reckoned with. He is hard hitting, clutch, and hits well for average. He is also a free agent at the end of the year, and rather than losing him for nothing, the Marlins would ideally get something for him now. AL teams have shown interest in him at DH, but he plays both 1B and 3B. He isn't very expensive and might be a bargain for teams not looking to spend on the more expensive corner infielders.
Other names have definitely been heavily mentioned in trade talks though, like Cody Ross, Wes Helms, and Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco has been a hot-and-cold kind of starter. He started the year very hot, but has since cooled off drastically. Helms is another corner infielder probably better suited for the DH spot. He doesn't hit extremely well for power, but makes consistently good contact, especially late in games. Cody Ross might be the best idea to move however, assuming the Marlins don't want too much in return.
With their outfield set for the next several years with Chris Coghlan, Mike Stanton, Cameron Maybin, and Logan Morrison, the 29-year-old Ross seems to be just an extra. He has been fantastic as a Fish, and has time and again come through in the clutch. He is a very good fielding CF as well, but might be getting in the way of the very long maturing process of Cameron Maybin. The Marlins will end up moving Coghlan to play third once Cantu is moved or becomes a free agent, and then Morrison, Maybin, and Stanton will take over the outfield.
Final predictions: Cantu is dealt to the White Sox for a bullpen arm and some prospects; Nolasco stays put for another year, as he is potentially too valuable; The asking price is too high on Ross, so they keep him until the offseason, where a move will be made; Coghlan moves to third to replace Cantu, Ross plays LF, and Maybin is brought up to play CF; Helms is bought by the Yankees to play DH with former Marlin Nick Johnson.
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