What some expected to be a breakout season for a young and talented Miami Marlins team has been anything but. The fish have floundered to a 41-58 record that puts them fourth in the NL East and 12 games out of the playoffs, leaving them deep in seller waters this trade deadline. That should pique some interest for the Yankees. Miami owns a couple of infielders who could help plug second base with someone who boasts the apparently elusive skill of not being Stephen Drew.
The first name here is a familiar one for Yankee fans. Exactly 362 days ago, Brian Cashman pulled off a swap that sent catching prospect Peter O'Brien to Arizona for Martin Prado, the versatile infielder/outfielder who hit .316/.336/.541 down the stretch in New York while starting games at four different positions - second, third, left and right. Despite his initial success, Prado's Yankee career was short-lived, and not only due to the appendicitis that shut him down in mid-September. Just three months later, Cashman made another deal involving the 31-year-old, this time sending him off to south Florida along with swing man David Phelps for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and pitching prospect Domingo German. It was an intriguing trade, not only because of Eovaldi's upper 90's heater but also because it seemed to mean that Rob Refsnyder or Jose Pirela would get a chance win the Yankees' everyday second base job. Things haven't worked out that way, with Drew's 75 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR instead swallowing up the majority of starts there.
2015 hasn't exactly been a banner year for Prado. Playing mostly third thus far, he's hitting .273/.312/.369 with an 88 wRC+. Of course, those numbers are still significantly better than Drew's. Away from Marlins Park, Prado's slash is a more respectable .291/.324/.378, and he's been strong against lefties with a 113 wRC+. Prado's owed $11 million in 2016, but the Yankees are already paying $3 million of that as part of the trade with Florida. They were able to trade him for a nice haul a winter ago, so if they don't want that salary on the books next year, they could probably do so again. Although the Marlins are said to have a high asking price for Prado, that could come down as the deadline nears, and he figures to cost less than Oakland's Ben Zobrist, who has drawn trade interest from all around baseball.
Ken Rosenthal reported over the weekend that Miami is also fielding offers for Derek Dietrich, who has been mostly blocked in 2015 by the emergence of Dee Gordon at second and Prado at third. Dietrich has only received 90 plate appearances in the pros this year, but he's made the most of them, hitting .291/.378/.557 with 5 home runs. In 56 Triple-A games, he hit .260/.357/.458, and he was solid for the Marlins in 49 games last year, when he managed a wRC+ of 104. The 26-year-old lefty hitter has played second and third base in the Majors and he actually played more at short than anywhere else throughout his minor league career. We're not talking about a world-beater here, but Dietrich has more potential for upward mobility than Drew or Brendan Ryan, and his ability to move around the infield could give the Yankees the confidence to give one of them the boot.
The initial reaction to players like these is fairly obvious for Yankee fans - why trade anything for a middle infielder who isn't all that instead of just freeing Refsnyder from his Triple-A shackles and giving him a legitimate shot? None of us know the real answer to that, but we're reached a point where if the Yankees envisioned Refsnyder as their starting second baseman, he'd be their starting second baseman. Drew's now held the job for a calendar year and the results have been tragically bad. It's time for a change if only for change's sake. The number the Yankees should be concerned with at second right now is wins-above-Stephen-Drew (that's WAR and more) and in that both Prado and Dietrich would represent a marked improvement.
But wait...what about a former Marlins infielder? News broke early this morning that Jose Reyes is on his way to Colorado in a swap for Troy Tulowitzki, and its possible the Rockies might flip the 32-year-old again before Friday. Reyes is owed $48 million over the next two seasons, but since he's on a trademarked Jeffrey Loria back-loaded deal, he won't count for quite that much against the luxury tax. He was hitting .285/.322/.385 in Toronto this year and his once outstanding defense has declined, but since the Rockies have recouped a couple of prospects already, he could go somewhere as mostly a salary dump. Would Reyes be willing to move to second for the Yankees to play in New York instead of Denver?
Regardless of who they pursue, any of these infielders would represent an upgrade over what Drew has provided this season. Each move makes some sense, but fans will just have to wait and see how the Yankees' strategy in the final days before the trade deadline.