Monday, July 23, 2012

The Selling Begins: Marlins trade Anibal & Infante to Tigers

Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante are headed to Detroit
BY David Villavicencio

Many expected the Marlins to sell at this year's trade deadline but Monday evening the anticipation became reality.

The Marlins traded right-hander Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Tigers for right-hander Jacob Turner and a pair of prospects, catcher Rob Brantly and left-hander Brian Flynn. The teams also made history by swapping competitive balance draft picks. It is the first time in history that draft picks have been traded in Major League Baseball.

The trade should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the Marlins recently. The Fish have lost their last five games, dropping to seven games below .500 and 11.5 games behind the division-leading Nationals. Rumblings of potential deals have increased as the team has underperformed.

Losing Sanchez hurts the Marlins' starting rotation but the right-hander is a free agent at the end of the season and the Marlins were likely to lose him to another team. Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter as a rookie in 2006, immediately upgrades a Detroit rotation that has underperformed behind ace Justin Verlander. The 28-year-old is 44-45 with a 3.75 ERA over 132 big league starts.

Infante signed a two-year deal worth $8 million prior to this season and the 30-year-old has been one of the better Marlins in 2012. Infante started off red-hot and was one of the top hitters in the Majors before injuries slowed him a bit. The 11-year veteran returns to the team that gave him his first opportunity in the big leagues. A career .276 hitter, Infante spent the first six years of his career with the Tigers.

Marlins fans initially reacted negatively when news of the trade broke. But fans may feel differently after they learn a little about what they received in return for two talented but replaceable players.
Jacob Turner

The 21-year-old Turner is the jewel of the group. The No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Turner ranked as one of MLB’s top 30 prospects in 2010, 2011, and this season according to Baseball America. He’s widely considered one of the top 10-15 pitching prospects in baseball.

Turner is 1-2 with a 8.28 ERA over 25 big league innings but Marlins fans should not be discouraged by his struggles. The fact that Turner was deemed worthy of six big league starts by age 21 should be an indicator of how highly the Tigers thought of him.

Brantly is a 22-year-old catcher with some offensive ability. He is a career .275 hitter in nearly three seasons in the minors but was batting .313 for Double-A Erie before earning a promotion to Triple-A Toledo. Brantly is an intriguing prospect because some feel the former third-round pick could develop into a solid big league. At worst, he adds catching depth to an organization that was sorely lacking it.

Flynn was a seventh-round selection in 2011. The lefty has posted solid numbers in both A-ball and High-A ball. He lost his Double-A debut on July 23, allowing five runs over five innings for the Erie SeaWolves.

Fish fans should prepare for the possibility of more trades over the next week and into August. Many believe any player other than injured outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is available for the right package.

Some obvious players that could be traded include Carlos Zambrano and Randy Choate. Both are free agents at the end of the year and could appeal to contenders. Greg Dobbs could also be moved to a team looking to bolster their bench while Justin Ruggiano could add outfield depth to a contender.

Big names like Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson are rumored to be available for the right price. Johnson is due $13.75 million in in the final season of his contract next year but a contender looking to add starting pitching could put together a nice package for the Marlins' ace.

Ramirez is making $15 million this season and is due $31.5 million over the next two seasons. The enigmatic former batting champ has struggled mightily since 2011. The Marlins seem as open as they ever have been to moving a player they once felt was the face of their franchise. Trading Ramirez is difficult because it is hard to bring back equal value. It is especially difficult because the 28-year-old's stock is lower than ever but the Marlins seem willing to move him if they get an appealing offer.

The Marlins probably want to move Ricky Nolasco and the $11.5 million he is due next season but that will be a tough sell. Nolasco is 72-59 with a 4.50 ERA since 2006. The right-hander has not matched the success he had in 2008 when he won 15 games and had a career-best 3.52 ERA.

John Buck is another player the Marlins would likely be willing to move. The veteran catcher has not lived up to the three-year, $18 million contract he signed prior to the 2011 season. Buck, who is batting .179 this season, is due $6 million next season. Teams searching for catching may look into adding Buck but only if the Marlins are willing to help pay for what is left on his contract.

One player who likely will not be moved is Heath Bell. The right-hander and his three-year, $27 million contract are nearly untradeable thanks to Bell's major struggles this season. Marlins fans looking to move on from the veteran closer should hope he returns to All-Star form because he is probably going to be in Miami for a while.

Monday's trade is likely just the beginning of what could be a very active week for the Marlins. Fans may worry that the team is going to be dismantled like it has been in the past. That may not be the worst thing as this roster has clearly underperformed from the unrealistic expectations that were placed upon it.
The Marlins had a flawed roster this season but they are already working towards an improved future. Miami started that process Monday as they added a legitimate top pitching prospect and a talented catching prospect in exchange for an impending free agent and a good but not great infielder.

1 comment:

  1. Need to get rid of Hanley before we claim that this is a new beginning. He didn't play for Girardi, he cost Fredi his job, and he now is doing "nada" 4 Ozzie. If I had smashed a fan for every time he has let us down with RISP my health insurer would've dumped me and fans would be in back order in all South Florida. Let him take his below avg. stats and his super star ego somewhere else.