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miami marlins logoOne of the surprising stories in the early going this year has been the Miami Marlins, winners of 9 of their last 13 games, and holders of a 20-18 record headed into mid-May. That’s good enough for second place in the NL East, and, before a sweep this weekend by the Padres, the Marlins were actually in first place.

A huge part of that surprise success, of course, has been 21-year-old stud righty Jose Fernandez, the crown jewel of young, stud pitchers in baseball right now. He’s got a 2.44 ERA and 2.14 FIP over 51.2 innings, in which time he’s struck out 70(!) and walked just 13. He’s just so, so very good.

And now, because the baseball gods hate pitcher arms, this year more than most, he’s headed to the disabled list with an elbow injury. He’ll get an MRI, which should clarify the nature of the injury, but folks are already speculating about something serious.

To be quite clear, this could be your run of the mill muscular issue, cleared up with a couple weeks of rest. If, however, it is more serious, and requires surgery (usually Tommy John ligament replacement), the Marlins will suddenly be without one of the main reasons they were surprise competitors in the National League.

That presents an interesting question for a young team going forward: do they quickly seek to replace Fernandez’s production in the rotation with a veteran from outside the organization, hoping to keep things rolling and surprisingly contend later and later into the year? Or do they stand pat, hoping for a miracle from now through July, and then maybe re-assess at the Trade Deadline? Or do they yield to the early-season projections, recognize that they just lost a 5/6-win pitcher, and fold up shop for another year? (Despite their early-season success, BP’s playoff odds had the Marlins at just 11.9%, as of this morning. That will likely fall a great deal if Fernandez is out for a lengthy period of time.)

It’s a really interesting series of questions for a team like the Marlins, one whom many didn’t think would be in a position to face those questions quite so soon. Given their frequently miserly nature, it’s also a question whether they could go out and add much salary at this point even if they wanted to.

I raise all of this because the Marlins are pretty deep in quality pitching prospects (some of whom could be under consideration for replacing Fernandez internally, mind you), and it’s conceivable that they could look to the Cubs to try and pick up a veteran arm. Would they want someone like Jeff Samardzija, who figures to be fairly expensive in his final year of arbitration next year? Would they instead want a shorter-term commitment like a Jason Hammel (who cannot be traded without his permission until June 15)?

Either way, you have to factor in another layer into these questions: if the Marlins looked to act quickly, would the Cubs even be willing to entertain a move at this point? I ask that not because the Cubs might be holding out hope for a surprising run. Instead, I just wonder whether the Cubs would prefer to wait until there are more suitors in the market so that they can ensure they get the best price for their players. There’s a reason very few meaningful moves are made in May, and I don’t expect whatever happens here to be an exception. The Marlins still had a lot of hurdles to overcome to reach the playoffs this year, and that was with Fernandez.

It’s just an interesting situation, given the Marlins’ particular standing as a surprise competitive team, and the Cubs’ pretty obvious standing as a seller already.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    Samardzija for Heaney and Nicolino + more!

  • Ivy Walls

    Are they willing to part with a stud LH OF’er who has a potential to exceed .450 wOBA?

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    Wait, the Marlins are contending? Makes sense, they signed all those free agents and IFA’s…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      They are “contending.” Looking at their home/road record, I tend to think they wouldn’t have hung around all season.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Well, it is still early enough for “contenders” to return to earth and the “under-performers” to come up to their true talent level.

        I’m just feeling snarky tonight.

    • Karl Groucho

      That strawman just got BURNED

    • Orval Overall

      I think there’s a little bit of a difference between being the team that does nothing more than shed Justin Ruggiano and Scott Baker because you have quality young players pushing them out the door, and being the team that does nothing more than add Justin Ruggiano and Scott Baker because you have quality players at A+ and AA, and don’t see any reason to try and compete before they get here.

      But that’s just me.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Nice cherry picking of FA adds.

        The Cubs have failed to sign some impact FA but so have the Marlins.

      • Zoolander

        “Don’t see any reason to try and compete”. Sounds un-American to me.

    • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

      37.8M to 15.9M, Marlins to Cubs in FA, 2014.

      • Brocktoon

        Saltalamacchia alone cost more than the entirety of the Cubs offseason.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          Ya, he was a big win for them.

          • Brocktoon

            Is this sarcasm? That was my favorite deal of the offseason and, he’s putting up great numbers.

            • YourResidentJag

              You can’t rationalize with stupid. ;)

              • DarthHater

                You can’t disguise an asshole with a smiley face, either. :-D

                • BlameHendry

                  case in point.

                  • DarthHater

                    You figure that out all by yourself? Or did mom have to explain it to you?

                    • BlameHendry

                      heh, at least you admit it

                  • TWC

                    Preeeeeetty sure that you said you weren’t going to follow the Cubs any more this season, no?

                    • BlameHendry

                      I said I’d try to not follow the Cubs this season. I still wish I could ignore them, but it’s pretty hard to just abandon a team you’ve followed so intensely for so many years. Anyway, what’s that got to do with anything?

        • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

          We got Beef Wellington. And he’s not chop liver and he’s cheap.

          • Brocktoon

            Well obviously I didn’t want to sign him barring a nice return for Castillo, just pointing out the humor that one mid-level FA cost more than everyone we signed.

            • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

              I got it…its no biggie. I was snarking there too.
              ;)

      • Karl Groucho

        Bah, facts.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Yup…works out to about an extra million per year on AAV.

        The point is that the Marlins haven’t done it “the way” that everyone here is up in arms about.

        • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

          I’m not up in arms, nor am I everyone, just a statement devoid of slant.

          Marlins are heavily subsidized; have no loyal fan base (why would they?); hell, if they left town – with a $1B debt to be handled by the city until 2045 – no one but MLB would give a damn. (Civic leaders, blah, blah…)

        • Brocktoon

          “everyone here???” I’d say there are more people here who support losing to win rather than spending money.

          • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

            George Halas smiles from the grave every time Tom Ricketts mentioned debt restraints.

        • YourResidentJag

          Everyone, Hansman. The way you’re purporting myth creation on here, it would seem as though you saw Bigfoot running around outside your house. So what. So,@JasonPowers wanted a guys like Scott Kazmir and David Murphy. At worst, it would have made this team in this year wildcard potential. With what, all those juggernaut teams dominating their divisions in the NL. Wow, major $$ setback there for the Cubs, LOL!!! OH NOES NOT SPENDING $$!!!! See what I did there, I pulled a Hansman.

          • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

            But we can’t have such guys over 30 that make money. The window is after we secure revenues streams, after we get 25% Equity stake from minority owners of a say a 1.5B team. So, $375M raise – almost exactly the cost of the renovation.
            Can we find 10 Cubs fans with 40M to put up. OR the Oracle from Omaha could take that out of petty cash…

            And thanks. ;) Its early, but Kazmir has looked all-star good.

        • Karl Groucho

          Starting Marlins acquired via FA or trade of recently-signed FA: Hechavarria, Saltalamacchia, Alvarez, Jones, and McGehee. That’s 5/13 starting position players or pitchers.

          Also not clear what Cubs board it is that the censorial POV is not pro-FO, but it ain’t this one.

        • Rebuilding

          Wow, Hansman, I’ve seen you post some oddball stuff defending the FO, but this is right up there. First of all, “all” of those people who criticize the FO from time to time would be about 5-10 of us who have to duck every time we post. The Marlins did it EXACTLY how people have said the Cubs could. Fernandez was left for their FO, like Baez was for ours (Fernandez was drafted 8 spots later than Baez in 2010), other than that they have built that team almost entirely through good trades and smart FA spending. Saltalamacchia was a great signing for them, Casey McGehee was a great signing for them, Garret Jones was better than what they had so it’s not a complete black hole at 1b. They traded for Eovaldi , Henderson Alvarez and Turner all in 2012 (3/5ths of their rotation), they traded for Hechavarria in 2012 to get their SS. The developed guys like Dietrich and Yelich through their farm system. They also have a very good farm system with several top arms. For what they have to work with they’ve done an amazing job

  • itzscott

    Boy Oh Boy…. The way pitchers are going down this season, the Cubs better trade Samardzjia before it’s too late!

    • willis

      Or, it’s time to be thankful that you have a strong arm like Shark who has shown to stay healthy and you do what you can to keep him around. But that would be silly.

      • YourResidentJag

        Well, we’re getting him at his age next. Just ask Brett. :)

        • YourResidentJag

          *next year.

  • abe

    What about the japanees pitcher in the minors is he tradeable?

    • itzscott

      Wada ya mean?

      • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

        G1

  • Dafoxx

    Anyone know why Soler is not in the lineup tonight for the Smokies?

    • Kyle

      I think he left early the night before, too?

      • http://deepcenterfield.mlblogs.com/ Jason Powers

        Is Soler….Spiderman? He must get a spidey sense to leave the park anytime he has to do his job, which is pretty sweet… Solerman, Solerman, does whatever a Soler can….spins a bat, runs the base, look out, here come Solerman!!!!

  • 5412

    Hi,

    Brett, this article is as good a reason for why Samardzija should be extended as any I have seen.

    regards,
    5412

    • Eternal Pessimist

      He is at least increasing his value…if his words imply anything it implies he would be willing to sign a reasonable contract with a team that has a chance to win. As a result he would still probably be an overpay for the Cubs and they may get better value from trading him.

  • Zoolander

    Time to sell high. Have all current players on the major league team available to the highest bidder.

  • itzscott

    What’s going on here?

    Mike Olt too?

  • baldtaxguy

    Wow, TJS (possibly) is early and often this year. Feel bad for the young man.

    It will be interesting to watch how the Marlin FO reacts if they lose Fernandez for a year.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    Samardzija or Hammel would seem to make sense. Short term committments that can fill the hole that’s left by Fernandez and I’m sure they have a few pieces thr Cubs would he interested in.

  • Blackhawks1963

    The news of the Fernandez season ending injury is sickening. This kid has been one of the best stories in baseball in many years. Just sad.

    • TSB

      And just think, sabermetrics didn’t predict this…

  • http://BleacherNation blewett

    Andrew Heaney and Jake Marisnick for Samardzija.

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