MLB Rumor Buy or Sell: Are the Marlins planning to reset at the trade deadline?


Welcome to CBSSports.com's Rumor Buy or Sell. With the July 31 trade deadline slowly approaching, we'll break down any various trade (free agency) rumors that come your way during the summer months.

The Rumor

On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recorded a video in which he talked about various topics from around the league. One of the subjects Rosenthal discussed was the Miami Marlins' willingness to sell at the deadline. Here's part of what Rosenthal said:

"The Marlins will be wide open at the deadline if they fail to revive. Wide open, as in willing to listen on everyone, including Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto, and Marcell Ozuna."

Juicy, right? Let's break it down.

The Background

The Marlins are in the worst possible spot. Their 23-31 record means they aren't a present-day contender, and their wretched farm system suggests little help is en route to Miami. Add since the Marlins will soon be under new ownership, and considering they entered the year with a franchise-high $115 million payroll, shedding cash while adding young talent makes sense.

Of course, the biggest contract on Miami's books belongs to Giancarlo Stanton, who has $77 million coming his way through the 2020 season (and potentially $186 million after that, provided he doesn't opt out and the Marlins don't exercise their club option). Rosenthal mentioned that Stanton seems more like an offseason trade candidate, and that seems like a fair assessment, given the complicated finances. Rosenthal also noted Miami's veteran relievers could be of interest, though at the moment David Phelps is the only one with good surface-level numbers.

christian-yelich-1400.jpg
Christian Yelich would make sense for a number of contenders. USATSI

The focus, then, is on Yelich, Realmuto, Ozuna. Yelich is signed through the 2021 season for a hair less than $45 million (including the buyout on his club option), while Ozuna has two more seasons of team control remaining and Realmuto has three.

The appeal of each player is obvious. Yelich is a 25-year-old center fielder whose current 107 OPS+ represents a disappointment relative to his career numbers (last season, for instance, he checked in at 132). Ozuna has played center in the past, but profiles as a corner outfielder with sufficient oomph in his bat and arm. He's having another breakout first half, and entered Sunday with 14 home runs and a 154 OPS+. He'll turn 27 in November. Realmuto, 26, has seemingly improved upon his receiving, per advanced metrics, and has a 103 OPS+ since 2015.

These are good, young players -- all three of whom could help contenders. The Marlins would be trading them due to necessity, not desire to rid themselves of a defective player. Even then, such a deal wouldn't be an easy call -- just, perhaps, a required one if the Marlins are to begin their latest attempt at assembling a core that will lead them to October for the first time since 2003.

The Verdict

Buy, all the way. The Marlins are no strangers to overhauls -- nor to trading talented, increasingly costly youngsters. Remember, this is the franchise that dealt a 24-year-old Miguel Cabrera and a 28-year-old Hanley Ramirez. Relatively, is trading Yelich, Ozuna, and/or Realmuto that farfetched?

Besides, it's unclear that the Marlins have any choice in the matter. Their current core isn't enough on its own to reach the postseason, and the front office has failed in its various tries to surround them with a sufficient supporting cast. At some point, one has to conclude it isn't possible -- much as the White Sox, a team in a similar position, did last winter.

The Marlins would certainly get some talented prospects in return. Provided they scouted well, they could position themselves to contend in two or three seasons. That's not a satisfying proposition for a fan base who has already suffered through a lengthy postseason drought, but what's the alternative? The Marlins' war chest is about void of dollars and prospects.

On that note, don't overlook the ownership angle, either. No incoming group wants to inherit a bloated payroll in addition to a bad team and a poor farm system.

As such, we fully expect the Marlins to make some trades before the deadline. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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