After relentlessly attempting to land local product Gio Gonzalez and add another established pitcher to the rotation, the Marlins are forced to look elsewhere as the division rival Washington Nationals augmented their rotation with another young arm.
It was disappointing for the Marlins because, in this particular case, they were willing to deal their top prospects, a change of times for a franchise who usually keeps and molds their farm system and deals their established starting players.
The Oakland Athletics asked the Marlins for either Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton in a package deal for Gio Gonzalez and the team has deemed both "untouchable".
So where does the team go from here?
The current rotation of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez has an array of question marks to the point that it might not even be within the top 3 in the crowded NL East.
The Marlins could easily obtain Davis, Rodriguez or Zambrano in different ways. If they want Wade Davis (26), they'd have to part with Gaby Sanchez which will only happen if the team successfully signs Yoenis Cespedes so that Morrison can reclaim his former position at first base.
To get Wandy Rodriguez (32), the Marlins would have to eat up the grand majority of his contract (three years/$36 million) and deal a solid return. But considering they wanted C.J. Wilson, this is a possibility. Rodriguez went 11-11 with a 3.49 ERA but his strikeout rate has steadily declined since 2008.
To get Carlos Zambrano (30), the Marlins wouldn't have to deal much as the Cubs would eat up most of the $18 million owed to him in 2012. The team would likely have to part with pitcher Chris Volstad to get a deal done. Zambrano essentially would be a reclamation project with the hopes he can regain his footing as top-of-the-rotation guy.
As for Matt Garza or Gavin Floyd, the package would have to be within the ranks of the Gio Gonzalez deal. The Marlins will probably steer clear of Garza (10-10, 3.32 ERA) considering the package the Cubs would seek for their 28-year-old with only one year of control left. Gavin Floyd (12-13, 4.37 ERA), Ozzie's former pitcher with the White Sox, would be an intriguing option but the "rebuilding" White Sox could seek a huge return for their 28-year-old pitcher.
On the other hand, the free agent market consists of Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, Roy Oswalt, Joe Saunders and Javier Vazquez. Out of these, Vazquez has said and continues to hold firm on his stance on retiring and, at this point, why force a guy back when he truly doesn't want to return?
Joe Saunders and Hiroki Kuroda make little sense because of age in Kuroda's case (36) or pitching ability in Saunders' case (soft-throwing left-hander, which the Marlins have in Mark Buehrle).
Edwin Jackson seeks a multi-year deal with agent Scott Boras in tow, and the Marlins won't go down that road with a pitcher of similar ability in Ricky Nolasco, who floundered last season.
As for Roy Oswalt, it wouldn't be a bad decision to sign him, as he seeks a one-year deal. But can the Marlins afford to add another question mark, as Oswalt suffered through back issues last season?
You can bet the Marlins are going to add one more pitcher, but who is it? That's yet to be seen, but the team has to do whatever it takes to keep up with the pitching ranks in the NL East. The Marlins arguably may have the best lineup in the division, but the starting rotation thirsts for one more ace to make the team a serious contender.