Marlins feel trade will fill several need areas
Miami envisions Escobar at third, Hechavarria at short, Alvarez as No. 3 starter
MIAMI -- Once the dust settles and emotions simmer from the still-pending blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays, the Marlins feel confident that they've addressed a number of their needs.
The immediate return will be the addition of a No. 3 starter, a backup catcher, as well as a new left side of the infield. In the long run, there is a good chance the team will have outfield depth, as well as more starting pitching.
Nothing is official yet on the deal that was agreed upon on Tuesday night, but Miami is sending pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, center fielder/infielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck to Toronto in exchange for infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and prospects Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani.
One of the biggest deals in Marlins history will clear about $160 million in base salaries off their books.
Team president David Samson discussed the pending trade with Dan LeBatard on 790 AM The Ticket on Tuesday night. Samson noted that Alvarez, a right-hander, projects to be third in the rotation behind Ricky Nolasco and Jacob Turner. Nathan Eovaldi also is expected to be part of the rotation.
"We got a No. 3 starter to go behind Ricky and Jacob Turner," Samson said. "You might not know the name Jacob Turner. Or you might not know the name Henderson Alvarez. Or you might not know the name Nathan Eovaldi, but the fact of the matter is, we think we're in better position to win more games."
Mathis replaces Buck as the backup catcher to Rob Brantly.
The major trade is exchanging players with track records for mostly unproven talent. Often, Samson says, people focus too much on the big names of players, and not the end results.
"So I hear you, it's the names," Samson said. "But at the end of the day, the names added up to 93 losses. So it's shame on us if we go at it the same way."
With the major revamping, the Marlins now appear ready to give a long look to their top prospects -- outfielder Christian Yelich and right-hander Jose Fernandez. Yelich and Fernandez both played for Class A Jupiter. Both are expected to move up to Double-A Jacksonville, if they are not ready for the big leagues coming out of Spring Training.
The Marlins also appear to be leaning toward playing Hechavarria at shortstop and moving Escobar, a career shortstop, to third base. The infielders from Cuba are very good defensively. Hechavarria is a 23-year-old who appeared in 41 games for Toronto last year.
"There is a shortstop who could become one of the great Cuban signs of all time," Samson said during his radio interview. "A perennial All-Star, supposedly. But he has to do it."
A lesson the Marlins learned from last year is talking big doesn't produce wins.
"I guess all the talk we did last season didn't add up to any wins," Samson said. "So maybe less talking and more winning is in order."
If the left side shapes up with Hechavarria at shortstop and Escobar at third base, Donovan Solano projects to start at second base.
With Bonifacio about to be moved, center field becomes a high priority. The team has internal candidates like Justin Ruggiano, Bryan Petersen and Gorkys Hernandez.
Yelich may wind up being the center fielder of the future, but he has yet to play above Class A, where he batted .330 last year. The left-handed-hitting outfielder turns 21 in early December.
Prospect Marcell Ozuna also is a talent on the rise. The 22-year-old belted 24 homers and drove in 95 runs for the Hammerheads. He's playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, where he has eight home runs in 22 games.
Marisnick, 21, is a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder from California who has tremendous potential. In the Arizona Fall League, he batted .314 with a home run and eight RBIs in 19 games. Marisnick played for new Marlins manager Mike Redmond at Class A Dunedin this summer.
Miami is redirecting after finishing last in the National League East with a 69-93 record. Rather than stick with core high-priced players, the organization decided to make dramatic moves.
The team has payroll flexibility and will entertain signing free agents. The Marlins just want to be more careful with how they spend their money.
"It depends on who is out there and what holes we have to fill," Samson said. "We just filled a bunch of holes on the team with the players we got back. We got a left side of the infield. We're looking for a center fielder."