14 Miami Marlins Who Will Be Attractive Trade Deadline Candidates

Cheng SioContributor IApril 4, 2013

14 Miami Marlins Who Will Be Attractive Trade Deadline Candidates

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    Livan Hernandez for Nate Bump and Jason Grilli in 1999.

    Ryan Dempster in exchange for Juan Encarnacion, Wilton Guerrero and Ryan Snare on July 11, 2002. On the same day, Cliff Floyd, Claudio Vargas and Guerrero in a swap for Graeme Lloyd, Mike Mordecai, Carl Pavano, Justin Wayne and Donald Levinski.

    And then there was last season. The Miami Marlins bid adieu to Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez for Brian Flynn, Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner. Two days later, it was sayonara to Randy Choate and Hanley Ramirez in a trade for Scott McGough and Nathan Eovaldi.

    Welcome to some of the big-name trades the Miami Marlins have executed around the July 31 trade deadline. Now if you look closely, you'll notice it's usually the marquee names who are leaving South Beach for greener pastures.

    In a few months, the Marlins might make another jaw-dropping trade as they look to continue their rebuilding efforts by shipping whatever short-term assets they have for a brighter long-term future.

    So who might the Marlins look to trade? Well, here are 14 names, in order of least significant to most significant, the Marlins might look to swap at the trade deadline.

The Fringe Trade Candidates

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    At some point, these 11 Marlins could be dealt if a decent prospect is exchanged in return.

    The Marlins might trade these 11 players because they might not fit the team's long-term plans, might make a sizable salary in 2014 or could be found wanted by other organizations who need help for a playoff push.

    - Chad Qualls, Jon Rauch and/or Ryan Webb

    Of the three, Rauch could be the most sought after player if a team needs a set-up man or a closer for the stretch run. Since 2006, Rauch's ERA has hovered between 3.12 and 4.14 in six of the last seven seasons. Furthermore, Rauch has accumulated 62 saves during this stretch.

    As for Qualls, who is 34 years old like Rauch, he's been a durable arm out of the bullpen, appearing in at least 70 games in six of the last eight seasons. In fact, Qualls has had the most appearances since 2005 with 572 games. However, Qualls' ERA has been over 4.00 in two of the last three years (7.32 in 2010 and 5.33 in 2012)

    Webb is the youngest reliever of the three, but he might be the most costly in the long run. Rauch ($1 million) and Qualls ($1.15 million) are free agents after the season, but Webb will be in his second year or arbitration after the season. He's earning $975,000 this season, but if he has a superb year, he might be too costly to keep for next season or another team might be willing to acquire him as another valuable arm for the playoffs.

    - Greg Dobbs and/or Casey Kotchman

    Dobbs or Kotchman will probably get traded, but that will depend on first baseman Logan Morrison's return to health. Morrison was placed on the 60-day disabled list as he's slow to recover from right knee surgery (patella tendon) back in September.

    Teams looking to trade for Dobbs will get a quality left-handed bat off the bench (career .257 pinch-hitter) while Kotchman provides value with his defense.

    Morrison told the Miami Herald last week he's up to 90 percent on the anti-gravity treadmill, has yet to take batting practice, but is expected to start throwing and fielding ground balls sometime next week. Morrison added he hopes to be in "big league games by early [to] middle of May."

    - Jeff Mathis and/or Miguel Olivo

    Currently, Mathis is on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken collarbone. Mathis suffered the injury Feb. 23 when he was hit by a foul tip in the first Grapefruit League game.

    Throughout spring training, the Marlins had Kyle Skipworth and, later, Koyie Hill battle for the right to fill Mathis' spot. Then, Olivo became available when he was released by the Cincinnati Reds and signed for $800,000.

    “To have two young guys like that is not an ideal situation,” first-year manager Mike Redmond told the Palm Beach Post“I feel comfortable with Skippy but at the same time, too, I’m nervous about two young guys back there. We’ll have to see how that one plays out.”

    If the Marlins decide to stick with Olivo once Mathis is healthy again, then the Marlins will pay Mathis $1.5 million to toil in the minors. If the Marlins stick to the original plan, which is Mathis as the backup catcher, then Olivo might not even be around as his contract states he can refuse a minor-league assignment if the team opts to designate him for assignment within the first 45 days of the regular season.

    - Chris Coghlan and/or Justin Ruggiano

    Since no one played well enough to claim the center field job, Redmond decided that the position will be shared between Coghlan and Ruggiano.

    “Those guys, we’ll probably platoon them for now and see who steps up,” Redmond told the Miami Herald. “If one of them takes off, they’re going to get the bulk of the playing time."

    This just means the loser could be expendable.

    - Juan Pierre

    He's no spring chicken, but Pierre still has some decent wheels at 35 years old. Last season, as a fourth outfielder with the Philadephia Phillies, Pierre hit .307 and stole 37 bases in 130 games.

    - Placido Polanco

    Like Pierre, Polanco is on the wrong side of 30. But like Pierre, he can still contribute, provided the 37-year-old infielder can stay healthy.

    Last season, Polanco missed 72 games last season with the Philadelphia Phillies because of back, knee, ankle and wrist injuries. He hit .294 in the first two months, but batted just .198, with five extra-base hits, in 130 plate appearances after June 4. He started only two games after July 22 because of lower-back inflammation. This year, Polanco has missed parts of spring training because of back spasms and a strained oblique, according to the Miami Herald.

    However, Redmond values Polanco's ability to handle the bat, which is why Polanco is batting clean-up behind Giancarlo Stanton.

    "I like Polanco there,” Redmond said about two weeks ago. “He gives you a veteran bat, a guy who puts the ball in play, he can hit behind runners, he can hit-and-run."

Steve Cishek

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    Steve Cishek could become expensive pretty soon. But that depends on his arbitration status.

    According to the Sun-Sentinel, Cishek could qualify as a Super 2 player after the season, which would make him eligible for arbitration. To qualify for Super 2 status, a player must have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, according to Major League Baseball's website. Only then shall a player be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

    Entering this season, Cishek has a 7-3 record, a 2.57 ERA with 18 saves in 116 appearances. Cishek's closest comparison happens to be Drew Storen of the Washington Nationals.

    Storen, in three seasons, has a 13-8 mark, a 2.96 ERA with 52 saves in 164 appearances. Three months ago, as a Super 2 player, Storen and the Nationals avoided arbitration as they agreed to a $2.5 million contract for 2013. 

    Cishek currently earns $505,000, but if he has a big year—let's say Cishek goes 6-5 with 34 saves and a sub-3.00 ERA—he can at least quadruple his salary for next season.

    While a closer earning about $3 million a year might not be a big deal for many franchises, especially for teams with World Series aspirations, it might be an issue for a cash-strapped Marlins squad. Plus, a team that isn't expected to contend for a couple of years doesn't need a closer to be one of its highest-paid players.

    In other words, Cishek could become an expensive luxury.

Ricky Nolasco

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    For the last five months, Ricky Nolasco sounded like someone who doesn't want to be with the Miami Marlins.

    And while the Marlins have said all the right things, it's no secret they wish to trade him so they can extract an asset or two before Nolasco bolts town.

    What marked the beginning of this probable divorce was the 12-player fire sale the Marlins conducted with the Toronto Blue Jays last November, which saw the Marlins send high-priced stars such as Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson north of the border.

    A month later, Matt Sosnick, Nolasco's agent, told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick his client wanted to be traded after the Marlins gutted the team. Adding fuel to the fire, Nolasco told The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson in January, “I feel pretty sure I’ll be traded sometime before the deadline. It all depends on how I pitch.”

    Furthermore, Nolasco will earn $11.5 million—nearly $9 million more than the second-highest paid player on the team (Polanco)—and will be a free agent at the end of the year. Add it all up, and it is almost a guarantee Nolasco will be shipped elsewhere by the trade deadline.

    The good news is Nolasco pitched well on Opening Day as he yielded two runs—a pair of solo home runs to Bryce Harper—and three hits in six innings in a 2-0 loss. Nolasco could boost his value if he becomes a mentor to some of the younger pitchers in the rotation.

    “We don’t have anybody else like that,” Redmond told the Associated Press. “His experience of going through the everyday grind of playing in the major leagues is huge. You need a guy like that. To have him at the top of our rotation, it’s going to be big to have that stability. You know what you’re going to get every time he goes out there. He’s young, too, but after that we’re really young.”

    In the same story, though, Nolasco said he doesn't see himself in such a role:

    “Nah. I’m going to be the same,” he said. “I’m a quiet guy by nature. I’m not going to change that. I’m going to keep going about my business and do what I have to do to prepare myself.”

Giancarlo Stanton

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    When Justin Upton was traded to the Atlanta Braves three months ago, some wondered if the Marlins would receive a Godfather offer for Stanton.

    Well, between owner Jeffrey Loria saying to the Palm Beach Post he doesn't "think this is the year to go to Giancarlo with an offer" for a long-term deal and the Texas Rangers inking shortstop Elvis Andrus to an eight-year, $120 million contract extension, whispers of Stanton's eventual departure, via trade, from Miami appears imminent.

    The question is not if, but when, because as Stanton's salary grows, his value shrinks. Moreover, Stanton will be eligible for arbitration after this season.

    Looking at the landscape, the Rangers and the Seattle Mariners are probably still the two franchises best equipped to trade for Stanton.

    Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is an executive who is on the hot seat, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden believes, so he might be the most motivated to acquire Stanton. In fact, Zduriencik tried to trade for Upton, but Upton nixed the deal as the Mariners were one of four teams on Upton's no-trade list. Had that deal gone through, the Arizona Diamondbacks would've gotten middle infielder Nick Franklin, left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush, right-hander Stephen Pryor and one of the Big Three—right-hander Taijuan Walker and lefties Danny Hultzen and James Paxton.

    The Mariners' top five prospects are, according to Baseball Prospectus, Walker, catcher Mike Zunino, Hultzen, Franklin and Paxton. Zunino won't be available in a trade until July 2 since players can't be traded for a year after signing a pro contract, according to The Seattle Times' Larry Stone.

    Furthermore, since the Houston Astros have migrated to the American League West, the Mariners might see their win total inflate to the point where they might be a fringe playoff contender by the trade deadline. And with a GM trying to save his job, he might throw the kitchen sink at the Marlins in order to get his man.

    However, ever since news broke of Andrus staying in Arlington for at least six more seasons—Andrus' extension doesn't kick in until 2015 and it has an opt-out clause after the 2018 season—the chances of Stanton landing with the Rangers increased exponentially because it meant Jurickson Profar, the top prospect in baseball, could be available in a trade since the Rangers are no longer afraid of dealing the young shortstop and watch Andrus leave via free agency simultaneously.

    Moreover, not only do the Rangers lack power as they watched Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli leave via free agency this past offseason, they might need a right fielder if Major League Baseball finds any incriminating evidence on Nelson Cruz. MLB is investigating if Cruz and other major league players received banned substances from an anti-aging clinic in the Miami area. Cruz has denied the allegations he purchased and received banned substances, but if MLB deems Cruz did purchase performance-enhancing drugs, he could be slapped with a 50-game suspension for a first-time offense.

    By the way, when the Diamondbacks dangled Upton to the Rangers,FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal said the Rangers had a five-player deal headlined by third baseman Mike Olt before Upton invoked his no-trade clause in the Mariners' proposal. Along with Olt, the Rangers were going to send a top pitching prospect—left-hander Martin Perez or right-hander Cody Buckel—shortstop Leury Garcia and one other prospect. 

    But when the Diamondbacks asked that Andrus or Profar be included in any deal, the Rangers rejected the trade demand knowing 2012 American League Cy Young award winner David Price and Stanton would become available within the next year, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.

    Well, now that Andrus is locked up long-term, Profar could be expendable and Stanton could be the target.