The Marlins have nearly zero major league talent, but they may have the most enticing trade chip in JT Realmuto. What Miami does with the 27-year-old catcher could change the fate of their franchise; he should be able to bring back a huge return of young talent.
Current State: Rebuilding
Marlins Sign INF Neil Walker
Finally making some sort of move, the Marlins have signed infielder Neil Walker to a one year deal worth $2 million. Walker, 33, had a down season for the Yankees, as he posted a .664 OPS in a limited role. Still, there’s plenty of reasons for optimism. He posted a career high hard contact rate of 37.9%, yet his BABIP dropped to .257. This was also the first time in his career that he didn’t reach 400 plate appearances, meaning that this was his first ever time not in a starting role. Plus, he signed late in the offseason and therefore did not have a full spring training like other players had. Walker provides versatility with his ability to play first base, second base, and third base at a league average level, which is important considering he’ll be playing for a young team with uncertainity at multiple positions. For the time being, he’ll likely atleast share duties at first base with Peter O’Brien in a platoon role agaisnt righties, which also makes him a great fit considering his OPS vs righties (.713) was more than .200 points higher than it was vs lefties (..477). This is a great move for Miami, who adds an important veteran leader to a young team with the potential to be flipped at the deadline assuming he bounces back like he should, for just $2 million.
Marlins Acquire RHP Sixto Sanchez, C Jorge Alfaro, LHP Will Stewart, $250K International Slot Money In Exchange For C JT Realmuto
The Marlins have finally done it. They’ve shipped off catcher JT Realmuto the Phillies, acquiring catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, as well as $250K International Slot Money in exchange. Alfaro, 25, is the only piece in this deal with MLB experience. His .731 OPS wasn’t horrible for a catcher, especially considering his hard contact rate of 37.7% wasn’t far below Realmuto’s. Yet, his .406 BABIP is not sustainable, and his low walk rate (4.8% BB rate) combined with his high strikeout rate (36.6% K rate) present no reason to believe that improvement will come, and that regression won’t. He’s pretty much an average defender, and with no clear upside hitting, it looks like he’ll be an average catcher at best. Sanchez, 20, is the prize of this deal. Ranked as the 27th best prospect in baseball, he posted a 2.51 ERA with a 45-11 K-BB ratio in High-A. His prize pitch is his fastball, which can crank up to 100 MPH and has devastating late movement. His curveball and changeup are also solid above average offerings, and his command is also terrific. He has some injury concerns, but if healthy, he has the potential to be an ace. Stewart, 21, was a 20th round selection in the 2015 draft. He’s a ground ball machine (62.1%), limits his walks (1.66 BB/9), and posted a 2.06 ERA in Single-A. He’s mostly just a flyer, but he could develop into a back-end starter. Sanchez is a huge get for the Marlins, who didn’t have any big time pitchers in their farm system. Yet, that’s the only piece I’m impressed with in this trade, as I’m not banking on Alfaro’s development like others. Maybe Alfaro breaks out, but unless he does, the rest of this package in very underwhelming considering how long they’ve waited to trade Realmuto.
The Marlins have signed reliever Sergio Romo to a one year contract worth around $2.5 million. Romo, 35, was famously used as an opener for the Rays last season. He did alright in that role, posting a 4.14 ERA with a 4.04 FIP in a career high 67.1 innings pitched. Being the opener may have actually hurt his numbers though, as he posted a 7.71 ERA as a “starting pitcher”. Romo’s season was also plagued by a bad first two months (6.27 ERA) and a rough September (10.00 ERA), but he was terrific in June, July, and August (1.47 ERA). Romo did allow more hard contact last season, but at the very least both his strikeout and walk rates trended in the right direction. He still seems to have a decent bit left in the tank, and he should be good for at least 50 innings and a 4.00 ERA with Miami. For a young, rebuilding team that simply needs some stability and some innings from their bullpen, that’s more than enough. Romo is a great fit for the Marlins, and although at $2.5 million he won’t provide any surplus values, he is a very useful asset for them at a pretty reasonable price.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Marlins Make
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant