Marlins give up 2013 for uncertain future

Where do you even start with this?

The Marlins had a $116 million payroll in 2012. They went all in with new players, a new stadium, a new name…and then they blew it up after a 69 win season.

And I mean blew it up.

Big free agent signee Jose Reyes? Gone. Frontline starter Josh Johnson? Gone. Innings eater Mark Buerhle? Gone. Overpriced closer Heath Bell? Gone. In a separate deal, but still gone nonetheless.

The new payroll for the 2013 Marlins? $20 million. That’s not a typo. As of this moment, they owe $20 million to five players without arbitration. That includes newcomers Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis and Adeiny Hechavarria, who earned a Major League contract when he was signed out of Cuba in 2010. And they might not be done! Ricky Nolasco, the now #1 pitcher for the Marlins, makes $11.5 million this year. If you think he’s gonna be sticking around after the giant trade that just went down, I have some beachfront property in South Dakota to show you.

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As far as the Major Leaguers go, Yunel Escobar will take over at shortstop, but Adeiny Hechavarria should be playing there, as well. Considering his bat is not that good and his glove is much better than Escobar’s, you might see Escobar shift over to second base.

Alvarez will slot in as a #2 or #3 pitcher, but that’s way above what he should be at this point considering he doesn’t have much else other than his fastball. His home run tendency will decrease due to the Marlins playing in a bigger ballpark, and he’s only 22 years old and there is room for growth here.

Mathis being included in this deal seemed like a joke to many, and it still has to be. He’s been one of the worst regular catchers in baseball over the last three seasons, and now he is the starting catcher for a team that could be destined for 100 losses. There is no reason at all Mathis should be catching for a Major League team right now, let alone start for one.

But this was not really about the Major Leaguers for the Marlins. As with any fire sale, this was about cutting costs and getting the team set up for the future. But the Marlins didn’t really get much back in return other than salary relief compared to what they gave up.

They did get two good prospects in outfielder Jake Marisnick and pitcher Justin Nicolino, along with B-Prospect Anthony DeSclafani. Marisnick is a center fielder by trade, but at 6’4” and 200 pounds, he has a speed and power combination that made him one of Toronto’s prized few non-pitching prospects. His 2012 line was pretty good considering his .719 OPS came as a 21-year-old in the Florida State and Eastern Leagues, two of the toughest offensive environments in baseball.

Nicolino was 20 years old at Low-A Lansing this year and was fantastic, averaging a strikeout an inning with a WHIP of just under 1.10 while taking home Midwest League Player of the Year honors. He projects as at least a #3 starter at the Major League level, with the ceiling of a good #2.

DeSclafani had a good year with Lansing, as well, but he was two years older and pitched more to contact. He had a WHIP of 1.38, but a 92/25 K/BB ratio with a 3.37 ERA. His ceiling is that of a #4 or a #5, which he might be in 2014 or 2015 when the prospects in this deal become Major League-type talents.

In a couple of seasons, an outfield of Marisnick, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich could project to be one of the better outfields in baseball. Nicolino’s addition to a rotation that includes Jacob Turner and rising prospect Jose Fernandez could be a nice core, as well, with DeSclafani eating up innings at the back of the rotation.

But in 2013, the Marlins are done for. As bad as Houston was this year and as bad as they will continue to be in 2013, the Marlins will struggle to field a legitimate Major League team due to their lack of talent at many positions and could be just as bad. As much as 2012 didn’t go well for Miami, they have basically thrown out the next few seasons hoping that years down the road, things will turn around.

The problem is that Marlins fans have seen this all before, and that considering what 2012 was supposed to bring, this trade’s timing couldn’t be worse.

Tim Livingston

About Tim Livingston

Tim is a former communications coordinator, play-by-play announcer and beat writer for the Dunedin Blue Jays, Toronto's High-A minor league team in the Florida State League. He currently does broadcasting for KSVY 91.3 FM and SVTV 27 in Sonoma, CA where he covers Sonoma Valley High School sports and has a weekly variety show, "Los Livingston Brothers."

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