Scout’s corner: Johnson weighs in on Marte, N.L. East and trade process

Scout’s corner: Johnson weighs in on Marte, N.L. East and trade process


Former professional scout, Bob Johnson, who has nearly 40 years of experience, offers his insights exclusively to Man On Second Baseball

By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

With the MLB Trade Deadline quickly approaching, it’s a perfect time for MO2 to check in with our resident scout, Bob Johnson, to get his insights into the process teams use in making trades.

This is a time of year where scouts are on the go, getting some final looks at potential trade targets, prior to the July 30 deadline.

“The general manager will have a meeting with the scouting staff and say, ‘This is what we need to improve our club. This is what we have prospect-wise,’ ” Johnson said.

Then comes the challenging part.

Finding a match to make deals is difficult, especially in a season like this, where the quality of play overall in the Minor Leagues has been down. So, while clubs are evaluating prospects, there aren’t many out there.

A decline in play was somewhat expected due to no Minor League season in 2020. It’s been even worse than many evaluators imagined.

So, in an industry that relies so heavily on statistical data, the role of scouts in magnified now because they will use their eyes and evaluation skills in grading players. They may see what the numbers don’t. In the end, the grades on players may or may not line up with standard statistical performance.

According to Johnson and many other evaluators MO2 has spoken with, the gap between Triple-A and the big leagues is wider than it has been in the past.

“All these fans will say, ‘We’re going to trade for Craig Kimbrel. We’re going to go trade for Starling Marte,’ ” Johnson said. “Well, they don’t have any idea of how to get some value back for Starling Marte. They don’t know. They don’t know who is out there.”

Kimbrel, the Cubs’ closer, is in high demand, as is Marte, the Marlins’ center fielder.

Johnson’s point is valid.

There’s no shortage of clubs interested in both of these players. It will come down to, which clubs have the prospects to complete deals.

Keep this is mind when you hear people say that they’re tired of accumulating prospects for big leaguers. Without prospects, you don’t have the resources to acquire top talent in trades.

So, if the Marlins can acquire quality prospects for Marte, that’s good. Those prospects eventually could be used to help the big league club, or be used as trade pieces.

Marte is drawing interest from numerous clubs: including the Phillies, Mets, Yankees, Astros, Red Sox and Giants.

“What they have to do is try to get two-for-one for Marte,” Johnson said. “They have to get two prospects or maybe a Major Leaguer and one prospect. Some sort of combination like that to get Marte. The Dodgers have prospects. Very few clubs have multiple prospects.”

Marte is on an expiring contract, which theoretically diminishes his return.

However, working in Miami’s favor is the fact multiple teams have interest, which could create a bidding battle for his services.

The Marlins also have a deep farm system, which gives them the opportunity to sweeten the pot for a potential Marte deal.

That may be what the Marlins are looking to do, not just shop Marte separately, but to include him as part of a bigger trade package.

Miami has relievers like Yimi Garcia, Dylan Floro, Richard Bleier and more, who could also be attached to a Marte trade scenario. We just saw that in the trade the Marlins made a few weeks ago with the Blue Jays. They sent outfielder Corey Dickerson and reliever Adam Cimber to Toronto.

“You may have to sweeten the pot,” Johnson said. “If not one guy, then two guys. You just keep adding names. What’s it going to take to get Starling Marte? They make an offer and you say, ‘That’s not enough.’ Well, you keep adding. The thing is with markets, there are some clubs that have more prospects than other clubs.”

The Phillies appear to have strong interest in Marte, but do they have the prospects to make a deal? That’s debatable.

The Marlins, of course, have many executives who used to be with the Yankees. These two clubs have made deals in recent years, and Marte would be a fit with the Yankees. Still, will the Yankees’ offer be the best one?

The Giants are interesting.

Craig Mish reports Giants outfield prospect Heliot Ramos could be a player of interest for the Marlins. To pull off such a deal would likely require more than Marte. So that would be a scenario of sweetening the pot for a high-end prospect.

Ramos is an interesting name, because the Marlins coveted him a few years ago.

After the 2017 season, when the Marlins were shopping Giancarlo Stanton, Ramos’ name came up in a possible deal with San Francisco. Stanton, who has a no trade clause in his contract, rejected a trade to the Giants, and of course was dealt to the Yankees.

For Marte, Johnson anticipates the Marlins getting either a Double-A or High-A player.

“Double-A was always the feeder league,” Johnson said. “I’d have two or three organizations that I’d have to know everything about the prospects at Double-A and High A. Those would be my targets in a trade. If I’m going to trade a Major Leaguer, the chances of getting a Major League back for a Major Leaguer are slim, for the most part. You’re looking to get somebody for your future.”

When it comes to the N.L. East, Johnson sees what the rest of us do. It’s a division that is up for grabs, which frankly hasn’t been very good.

In the end, who does he think will ultimately prevail?

“I think the Mets are still going to win because Washington is still beaten up,” Johnson said. “Atlanta losing, Ronald Acuna Jr. has really stressed them.”


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