The Miami Marlins continued their fire sale Wednesday, reportedly agreeing to trade Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals for a prospect package. Ozuna joins NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton and second baseman Dee Gordon as quality players the Marlins have dealt this offseason.
With every move, the comparisons between these Marlins and last winter's Chicago White Sox grow more frequent. Those White Sox, after all, traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for prospects. In-season, the White Sox continued their rebuild by moving Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier and David Robertson (among others) for even more prospects. (In the interest of not singling anyone out, we're not going to post tweets of the comparisons. Just know they're out there.)
It is true that the White Sox and Marlins each overhauled rosters that, though blessed with good cores, had been unable to reach the postseason. But that's where the comparisons run off the rails and prove unjust. That the Marlins' reset appears motivated by finances cannot be ignored -- in large part because that concern has led to worse execution.
To wit, consider that in dealing Sale and Eaton, the White Sox received Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. MLB.com's year-end prospect list had Moncada ranked as the top prospect in baseball, with Giolito (No. 3), Kopech (30) and Lopez (38) also ranking in the top 40. That's four of baseball's top 40 prospects. The Marlins, comparatively, haven't received anyone who ranks in the top 100. In fact, despite having one of the worst farm systems in baseball, the Marlins have acquired just two players who MLB.com considers to be among the top 10 in the organization: Jorge Guzman (No. 3) and Nick Neidert (No. 5).
To recap: The White Sox received more players who ranked in the top three of a league-wide prospect list than the Marlins received who ranked in the top three of an organization-wide list.
Blame the Marlins' returns on the Stanton and Gordon contracts; hold out hope that the Ozuna deal nets a bigger headliner than Magneuris Sierra (ranked No. 6 in St. Louis' system); or, alternatively, credit the White Sox for making good deals. The path doesn't matter because the destination is the same: The two rebuilds are incomparable in any analysis that gets beyond the shared term "rebuild."
Perhaps the Marlins make a few more trades that net better returns. Perhaps the Marlins are just better at this whole scouting thing than everyone else and are getting better players than believed. (It stands to reason that, if this were true, they wouldn't have had such troubles reaching the postseason, but, hey.) Perhaps the sun burns out and none of this matters. But right now, it's hard to claim the Marlins' rebuild is going well -- and comparing it to the White Sox's rebuild makes it look significantly worse than it already did.