Miami Marlins: Dynamic trade deadline winners of the National League

The Marlins entered the trade deadline as buyers, the first time in a full season since the disastrous 2016 deadline. Whilst the needs were clear, limited resources in the minor league system meant that general manager Kim Ng needed to be inventive.

As the deadline approached, reporting echoed what had been said all year. The organisation was all in on 2023 and trade rentals for a playoff push were to be the expectation. Owner Bruce Sherman had expressed a willingness to spend money to maximise the return, but it was expected that taking on owed money beyond 2023 was unlikely.

The first trade came days before the deadline. The Marlins, for years, had placed relievers in the closer role, often with little to no experience. In a playoff push, a lockdown closer was their first piece of business.

In acquiring David Robertson, the Marlins added arguably the best reliever on the market. Having amassed 171 career saves, as well as filling in excellently for the WBC injured Edwin Diaz, Robertson brings a wealth of experience and calmness to the most volatile position in baseball.

This deal had other league-wide implications; it placed the New York Mets as sellers. The most expensive team ever assembled in baseball history had thrown in the towel. The deal also implied the Marlins were to be very active, and yet it was not until an hour before the deadline that they would next pull the trigger.

The Jake Burger for Jake Eder trade seemingly came out of nowhere. The Marlins had lacked power all season, so Burger’s 25 home runs would not only tie Soler for team leader but would also represent the most home runs from a Marlins third baseman since Jorge Cantu in 2008. The power comes with some obvious drawbacks; with a poor contact rate and low walk percentage, Burger will not put up much support in average or OBP.

The loss of Eder may come back to haunt the organisation; he has slowly but successfully returned from TJ surgery and could arguably have been in a position to help the big league team in its playoff pursuit in the coming weeks.

What the Marlins have achieved in the trade is an offensive upgrade at a position of need and acquiring a player that has years of team control. The Marlins may have found their best power-hitting third baseman in decades.

With the addition of Burger, who figures to be inked in to play slightly below-average defence at third base, meant that Jean Segura, and specifically his $10.5 million owed beyond 2023, were a movable asset. Three home runs in 301 at-bats were no longer tenable for a team with playoff hopes. Segura’s -1.2 fWAR ranks near the bottom in baseball. It was at the cusp of the deadline that a move was made as Segura and former first-round pick Kahlil Watson were traded to the Cleveland Guardians for power-hitting first baseman Josh Bell. Cleveland immediately released Segura, thereby eating the remaining money on his deal.

The Marlins equally have been landed with a sizeable contract in Bell’s $16.5 million 2024 player option that’s likely to be taken up. Bell, like Burger, brings much-needed pop to the lineup.

In trading Watson, the Marlins are giving up on a problematic first-round pick who so far has not delivered on his potential. Plagued with immaturity issues, it seems a change in scenery was required, and the Marlins have displayed that they were happy to see the back of him by trading him so cheaply.

Barely any time had passed to process the addition of another pure 1B/DH to join Garrett Cooper and Yuli Gurriel on the 26-man roster when the next trade dropped. Cooper and minor league pitcher Sean Reynolds were shipped to the San Diego Padres for Ryan Weathers.

Despite the Marlins being buyers, with an expiring contract Cooper’s name had been mentioned in reports approaching the deadline. Whilst streaky and oft-banged up with injuries, Cooper was a productive starter, albeit not with the prototypical power of a first baseman with his frame. His loss to the Marlins will be his line drive to all fields and specifically his clutch hitting.

In Weathers, Miami have acquired an interesting young reclamation project, a young arm with all the tools who has as yet put them together. In the hands of heralded pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., Weathers will have a real chance to be a key rotation piece for the Marlins going into 2024.

Whilst the Marlins were very active, the deadline moves were surprising. They moved expiring deals and money whilst acquiring players with control rather than pure rentals. The lack of an additional rotation piece to help for the 2023 season feels like the biggest omission, given the recent issues with depth and longevity of the rotation.

With a stable of young, developing starters and the controllable additions to the team, in addition to potential talk of a Jorge Soler extension, this deadline may have more impact in a 2024 push than for this year. It is clear that the organisation had one eye on the future whilst also balancing a shot at the playoffs this year.

Featured image of David Robertson by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Shaun Barrett is one of the new writers we have at Bat Flips & Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @Shaunbbarrett for more insightful Marlins’ takes. Want to write for Bat Flips & Nerds’ audience of 10,000+ followers? Click on the “Write for us” link above.

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