State of the Marlins after two months; Trade Deadline on horizon
The Miami Marlins enter June still within striking distance in the National League East, but the club is dealing with numerous injuries and next few weeks will determine what’s next
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Two months into the season, and the Miami Marlins find themselves in an interesting spot. In the standings, the team has done its part to tread water while coping with numerous injuries. Even at four games under .500, they remain in realistic striking distance of the National League East-leading New York Mets.
Entering June, the Marlins have a 24-28 record, and are tied with the Philadelphia Phillies at five-games back in the division. The Mets are 26-20, and the Atlanta Braves are 3 1/2 games back in second place.
Even the Washington Nationals, at 21-29 and seven games back, still have a shot.
In the Wild Card race, Miami is seven games off the pace. Remember, unlike a year ago, there is not an expanded playoff format, and there are plenty of other clubs in the mix for the two spots.
The Marlins on Tuesday night are back in action, as they open an Interleague Series against the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo, N.Y.
Traditionally, around Memorial Day is when you should really start paying closer attention to the standings. We’re now exactly two months into the season on June 1. But due to so much roster uncertainty, the Marlins right now have as many unanswered questions as they did when the season opened on April 1.
That’s because of mounting injuries, including being without their left-side of their infield. Shortstop Miguel Rojas and third baseman Brian Anderson are both sidelined for an extended time.
Losing those two are big blows for Miami. Along with their production, they are two of the faces of the franchise.
Even without two core players, the Marlins are in the thick of the division race, frankly, because the N.L. East hasn’t been very good. At least, record-wise. The Mets entered Tuesday as the only team above .500 in the division. And pretty much all the teams in the East have dealt with significant injuries or off-field adversity, like Marcell Ozuna’s injury and legal situation in Atlanta.
With the division wide open, one hot streak gets the Marlins right into the thick of playoff contention.
However, it also should be noted, this club hasn’t been at .500 or above all season. They lost to Tampa Bay on Opening Day, and have spent much of the season drifting between five and one under.
Why this is important is it adds perspective. I know the Marlins’ run differential has been good, a plus-10. But that speaks to how well the club has pitched, and isn’t the best indicator at this point in the season. Maybe, in August, when teams have played more than 100 games, run differential will be more telling. I personally don’t put a ton of stock in that number in the first 60 or so games.
What fans should be focused on is the July 30 MLB Trade Deadline.
By then, the Marlins will have to make some tough calls.
So what should the Marlins do?
MO2 explores whether Miami should become buyers, sellers or should they just stay the course?
The luxury for the front office is they don’t have to make that call right now. The fact they’re in striking distance buys time. But clearly June will go a long way in determining if they will stick with this core or look to make moves.
Personally, I could see the Marlins doing a bit of both. They have players on expiring contracts, like Adam Duvall, Starling Marte and Corey Dickerson. Rojas also is in the final year of his contract. But being on the injured list creates potential trade uncertainty. There also are some relievers who could attract trade interest.
Marte is a player many fans would like to see the Marlins extend. But that window may have passed, because the veteran center fielder likely would test free agency, should he remain with Miami for the remainder of the season. If they fall out of it by the end of July, Marte would become their best trade piece. If they stay in the race, the decision would probably be to keep him for the stretch run, and then decide whether to try to extend after the season.
In terms of need, the Marlins clearly are in need of an infielder, someone who could play third, short and second base. Jazz Chisholm, when healthy, is expected to play shortstop until Rojas is ready. Even his status has been iffy, due to his recent injuries.
If the Marlins do seek a trade for an infielder, ideally, the player probably shouldn’t be on an expiring contract. Parting with a prospect package for a rental for a team under .500 is risky.
This is why I could see the Marlins being buyers and sellers. By that, they could look to make a significant trade for a position player with controllable years of service time. That would make the most sense, if they are willing to part with any organizational pitching depth.
Now, if the Marlins get hot, and go on a run before the Trade Deadline, and say, improve to like 10 games over .500, adding a rental then makes more sense, if it helps put them over the top. At that point, with the playoffs more realistically in reach, the front office could give more consideration to dealing with some of the surplus Minor League pitching.
These are not easy front office decisions. Fortunately for the Marlins, they don’t have to make an immediate call. But that will certainly change based on how the team performs in these next few weeks.