Marlins Park will be a packed house tonight for the All-Star Game, but once the festivities conclude, the stadium will return to a near empty capacity when the Marlins get back to work. It will be quiet in the stands, but you can bet the front office will be loud and busy as the trade deadline nears.
The Marlins, despite a star-studded outfield and an offense that holds the fourth-best batting average in baseball, sit at 41-46 and third place in the NL East. Considering they are 10.5 games back of the Nationals and nine games behind the Wild Card pace, the Marlins will definitely fall under the selling category in the next couple of weeks.
So, do the Marlins have any pieces that could be of value to the Yankees? Brian Cashman made it clear on Sunday that the Yanks are heading towards the deadline with a buyers mentality, so Cashman will very likely take a look down south and see if the Marlins have anything that can help the Yanks reach the postseason in 2017.
One report linked the Yankees to first baseman Justin Bour, who has 20 home runs and an OPS of .923 through the first half of the season. First base has been a nightmare for the Yankees this season with the lengthy injury to Greg Bird, and the painful performances of Bird’s backups in Chris Carter and Tyler Austin (Austin’s performance being painful in a literal sense, since he’s back on the DL).
Bour would certainly add power to the lineup and would figure to have success at Yankee Stadium, but Cashman stressed on Sunday that Bird is still the team’s preferred first baseman of the future. Cashman hasn’t forgot what a healthy Bird looks like at the plate, so trading away prospects for a guy like Bour seems contradictory at this point. The Yankees have many other spots to fill besides the corner infield, particularly on the pitcher’s mound. Besides, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill seems to want to keep Bour anyway.
If the Yankees wanted a less expensive corner infielder from Miami, a former Yankee in Martin Prado could be available. Prado was dealt to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, and was a .305 hitter last season. However, the third baseman has experienced a bit of a down year in 2017, carrying a .262 average into the break. He has never been a guy to give you a power boost in the lineup, but he won’t strike out a lot and would likely be an upgrade over Chase Headley.
Still, the Yanks need more than just a slight upgrade to make a trade like this worth it. Prado would be nothing more than a rental with Gleyber Torres waiting in the wings next season, and Headley’s contract makes him hard to dump. It looks like the Yanks will have to tolerate Headley for the next three months.
That brings us to pitching, where the Yanks have all kinds of problems right now. The bullpen has been a disaster, especially Tyler Clippard. Marlins’ president of baseball operations Michael Hill seems set on parting ways with some of his relievers such as Brad Ziegler, AJ Ramos and former Yankee David Phelps.
Ziegler had a great two seasons before hitting a wall this year. He is currently on the DL with a strained back and a 6.52 ERA. Phelps had a great 2016 but seems to be trending back towards his usual numbers this season. His 3.68 ERA isn’t too bad, but he is already one home run away from matching his total last year, and the Yankees don’t need to be giving up more home runs out of the pen. Ramos is another Marlins reliever who is experiencing a bit of a down year. He was an All-Star in 2016 but has an ERA of 3.51 out of the closer’s spot this season.
The Yankees will likely check in on all three relievers, and will have to see what the asking price is. The bullpen figures to be a great concern right now, and Cashman will have a close eye on Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the next week or so to see if they are back to form.
A starting pitcher is of great need for the Yanks right now as Masahiro Tanaka struggled again on Sunday and Michael Pineda continues to frustrate. The Marlins have a starter in Edinson Volquez who will likely draw interest from multiple clubs. His contract runs through the end of next season and has a no-hitter to his credit this season, but currently sits on the DL with knee tendinitis.
The Yankees have the farm system to make moves by the end of the month, so we will have to see how active Cashman plans to be. He labeled the Yankees as “careful buyers” at the trade deadline this year, so guys like Volquez and Prado wouldn’t make much sense. If the Marlins are indeed a trade partner for the Yankees, the bulk of the trade talks would likely surround the bullpen.