There’s going to be an avalanche of speculation about Jacob Turner, just designated for assignment by the Marlins, so let’s discuss some things:
- Turner, 23, is not the super-top-prospect guy he once was, but the peripherals and uptick in velocity this year make you think there could be something there still. The Marlins dumping him to add a reliever to the roster is a significant surprise.
- Of course, the Marlins aren’t DFA’ing him for no reason. The performance keeps lagging, and, being that Turner is out of minor league options, he has to be carried on the 25-man roster, which proved to be a problem for the Marlins. He also had a big league deal from back when he was originally signed, and he makes slightly more than your average pre-arb player ($1 million). The Marlins are in a pennant race, and perhaps they’ve just decided they simply can’t afford to have Turner anywhere on the roster right now, even in the bullpen. I’m stretching a little bit to explain the decision here, of course.
- Remember: “designated for assignment” =/= released or waived. It means Turner has been removed from the 25-man and 40-man rosters, and the Marlins now have 10 days in which to trade, waive, or release Turner. You can expect a lot of teams to be intrigued by the upside, and many teams might be willing to make a trade for Turner, giving up a marginal piece for him.
- … but it’s August. Which means that, in order to trade Turner, the Marlins first have to place him on revocable waivers. If he cleared, they could trade him to any team, and, if he’s claimed, the Marlins can trade him to the team that claims him (or let him go for nothing). As you recall from our primer, if multiple teams claim Turner, the priority goes by reverse standings order in the NL first, and then the AL. At present, then, the Cubs have the number two priority, right behind the Rockies.
- And the Rockies will totally claim him, right? I know that having to put him immediately on the 25-man roster makes things tricky, but, if you’re the Rockies, what do you have to lose by grabbing Turner and giving him a shot for the final two months of the year? If the Rockies do claim Turner and won’t give up much to get him, perhaps the Marlins pull him back, and that’s the end of things. (Edit – I see comments that merit some additional discussion here. What I mean by “end of things” is that the Marlins would have to then decide either to place Turner back on the 25/40-man rosters or release him (or place him on outright waivers, which would create a different angle here, but I’m presuming they won’t have to go that route). They would, presumably, choose the former. The end. The interplay between waiver for the purposes of DFA (outright waivers) and revocable trade waivers are not 100% clear to me (can they go consecutively? for example), but I think I’ve got this right. As always, with the minutia of MLB’s roster rules, I’m open to learning where I am mistaken. (Double Edit – But if you start with a DFA, can you use revocable trade waivers at all? Or do you have to start with outright assignment waivers, which would neuter a lot of the discussion below? I’m doing some CBA researching. Nerd fun!) )
- Fun side wrinkle: the Cubs and Rockies are about to play each other, and you’re wondering if the Cubs could actually slide into the top priority spot if the Marlins wait a couple days to waive Turner. No, sorry. Even if the Rockies sweep the Cubs, they’ll still be a half-game worse than the Cubs. The Diamondbacks, however, could “pass” the Cubs if they lose today/tomorrow and the Cubs win a couple. The timing of the waiver could be key.
- So, let’s say the priority stays the same, and let’s imagine the Rockies don’t claim Turner for some reason … would the Cubs? If you believe there’s a robust trade market out there for Turner, the answer is yes, because the Cubs could just do what the Nationals did last year with David DeJesus (use waiver priority to get the guy, and then trade him to a team further up the ladder). Of course, if every team is thinking the same way, it could be a long ride up the ladder!
- Would the Cubs want to claim and then keep Turner? It’s a trickier decision, given the required 25-man spot. Would the Cubs rather have Turner than, for example, a reliever they might have to dump? I’m not trying to be coy here, because I think the answer is a pretty clear yes. I suppose I’m just so surprised that the Marlins are doing this that it leaves me suspicious about whether there’s something I’m missing on Turner. I know he’s out of options, I know the results haven’t matched the peripherals, and I know there were some health questions … but he’s a 23-year-old pitcher with a low-90s fastball and plenty of upside. Maybe the Marlins are hoping a team like the Cubs will claim him and then give up real value? Sure, I think it’s reasonable to part with a low-level, reasonable-upside prospect for Turner (perhaps one who would otherwise have to be put on the 40-man roster this offseason to protect from the Rule 5 Draft) or maybe a complementary piece to help the Marlins with their stretch run (of course, that player, too, would have to run the waiver gauntlet).
- All of this is dependent, of course, on the Cubs’ internal take on Turner. Maybe they don’t like him for some reason. It’s a reminder, though, of why it’s important to have as many updated scouting takes on as many players as possible at all times. Never know when you might have to make a quick decision.
- Again, I don’t see why the Rockies wouldn’t jump first on Turner, but, if they don’t, I’d think the Cubs would be happy to get Turner on board, and then sort out the roster crunch questions later. Interesting stuff, man.