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Marlins Add Dee Gordon, Mat Latos and Hope for 2015

The Miami Marlins made some promises to Giancarlo Stanton in the negotiations to complete the $325 M deal that the powerful right hander signed earlier this offseason.  The executives seem to be making good on those promises to actively compete for playoff appearances with the two deals that were completed today.

In the first move, the Dodgers traded (good) prospects for Dee Gordon and Dan Haren, who has one year left on his contract and is a strictly 2015 piece.  The second netted Mat Latos,  also a free agent at season’s end. Combine these moves with the return of Jose Fernandez, and the Marlins, who won 82 games a year ago, appear like they will be relevant all season.

Let’s discuss the Dee Gordon move first.  I’m a huge Dee Gordon fan.  It’s well documented. I even made up a stat that attempts to level the offensive contributions of Dee and David Ortiz. I still don’t really like this trade for the Marlins.  Don’t get me wrong – Dee will fit in great in Miami.  The Marlins needed a second baseman (Donovan Solano and Jordany Valdespin were never going to going to cut it), and adding a no power/stolen base threat in that ballpark seems to make sense.  It’s just that the Marlins gave up too much to get him. From Jeff Sullivan’s post at Fangraphs:

[Kike] Hernandez is going away, and he’s a useful utility player. He can play a lot of positions. Heaney entered last season as Baseball America’s No. 30 prospect in the game, and then he blitzed through Double-A and Triple-A to get to the majors. Heaney is a real good prospect, a little shy of elite. If you haven’t heard of Chris Hatcher, he just threw 56 relief innings, with five times as many strikeouts as walks. And Austin Barnes is a guy who can play catcher, second, and third, who just finished a minor-league season with more walks than whiffs. Every single player is interesting, with Heaney a quality headliner.

Andrew Heaney was their number one prospect and was poised to positively contribute in the 2015 season after a few bad major league starts in 2014.  Barnes likely lost his place in the organization with Dee Gordon coming aboard, so his inclusion makes sense.  Finally, fretting over a middle reliever doesn’t make sense.  So, the Marlins gave up a very good pitching prospect for Dee Gordon?  Considering the amount of young pitching currently at their Major League level, who have all demonstrated the ability to get people out, Heaney was likely expendable. At least that’s my read from the Marlins point of view.

If you’re of the opinion that the Marlins expect Haren to contribute in 2015, and provide his usual level of Dan Haren-ness, which is a replacement level  pitcher, this isn’t so great. However, the Dodgers kicked $10 Million in this deal should Haren carry out his proclaimed retirement. Jeffrey Loria’s frugality has been well documented, but it’s worth mentioning again: the guy is a cheap ass. That extra $10 Mill could help the Marlins further secure any holes in their big league club come July.

Next, Mat Latos was shipped from Cincinatti to Miami.  He’ll help to solidify a young rotation that really needed an anchor once Jose Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery last year. It’s a great move for the Marlins in that it bridges the gap to help the younger pitchers further find their footing the MLB, and it protects against any Jose Fernandez setbacks. Throw in the fact that they didn’t give up any real prospects in the deal and you have to love this move for the Marlins. They now have a formidable top of the rotation, something necessary in their division

Further, I like this deal in that it gives the Miami fans something to be excited about, while not diving all-in on 2015.  If things go south in Miami, or if the team fails to gel for whatever reason, Latos could be flipped for prospects at midseason with the realization that he’s headed for a large paycheck next winter.

Surprising the baseball world is nothing new for the Miami brass.  These moves, combined with the rumors of their interest in the first base market, are the kind of pleasant surprises that bring a smile to erstwhile Marlins fans, and Giancarlo Stanton.


-Sean Morash

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