Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

miami marlins home run sculptureWith the Chicago Cubs likely buyers this year for the first time in the last several Trade Deadlines, we thought it would be appropriate to take a brief look at some of the teams that could become sellers. These teams could present possible fits for the Cubs should they look to improve externally. 

Previously: Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox.

Possible Seller

Miami Marlins

Record and Standings

  • Current Record: 40-55 (.421 W%)
  • Projected End of Season Record (PECOTA): 72-90
  • Standings: Fourth place in NL East, 11.5 games back of second Wild Card

Why They Might Be Sellers

The Miami Marlins will not be making the playoffs in 2015. Their own division includes two playoff hopefuls (the Nationals and – to a lesser extent – the Mets) and they are second to last in the Wild Card race, ahead of only the Phillies. While they won’t necessarily be rebuilding, they can certainly stand to sell off their aging, expiring contracts.

How Soon They Could Be Ready to Sell

While it’s fairly safe to assume they will sell, when they sell is once again predicated upon who is being targeted. Of the four players below, two are near the end of their contract (Latos and Prado) and two have plenty of control left (Hand and Koehler). If you are asking about the former, they are likely available right now and will be easier to move. If you’re asking about the latter, the Marlins may ultimately decide to hold off, if the right trade doesn’t come along – in other words, their value may very well continue to rise.

Realistically Available Players That Might Interest the Cubs

  • Dan Haren
    • Position: Starting Pitcher
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 34
    • Contract: $11M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 117.0 IP, 3.46 ERA (4.47 xFIP), .251 BABIP, 12.2 K-BB%, .8 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here.
  • Mat Latos
    • Position: Starting Pitcher
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 27
    • Contract: $9.4M in 2015
    • 2015 Stats: 75.1 IP, 4.90 ERA (3.70 xFIP), .305 BABIP, 13.4 K-BB%, 1 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher NationHere.
  • Brad Hand
    • Position: Reliever/Swing Man
    • Bats/Throws: L/L
    • Age: 25
    • Contract: $0.52M in 2015, roughly .52M in 2016, eligible for arbitration 2017, 2018 and 2019
    • 2015 Stats: 42.2 IP, 5.48 ERA (3.76 xFIP), .352 BABIP, 9.2 K-BB%, .6 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: None.
  • Tom Koehler
    • Position: Starting Pitcher
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 29
    • Contract: $0.555M in 2015, eligible for arbitration in 2016, 2017, and 2018
    • 2015 Stats: 104 IP, 3.38 ERA (4.26 xFIP), .254 BABIP, 8.4 K-BB%, .3 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: Here.
  • Martin Prado
    • Position: 3B
    • Bats/Throws: R/R
    • Age: 31
    • Contract: $11M in 2015, $11M in 2016
    • 2015 Stats: 288 PAs, .275/.317/.375, .300 BABIP, 4.9 BB%, 11.5 K%, 1.2 WAR
    • Recent Rumors/News on Bleacher Nation: None.

Overall Fit with Cubs

After taking a look at the abundance of players available from teams like the Athletics and Padres, the Marlins don’t come off as the best fit, overall, but they do have some pieces that technically make sense.

First, you have a couple different types of starting pitchers, Latos and Koehler. Latos, is a starter at the end of his contract whose results (4.90 ERA) are much worse than his peripherals (3.70 xFIP). Koehler, on the other hand, is a starter with several more years of control left whose results (3.38 ERA) are much better than his peripherals (4.26). In a way, that’s the opposite of what you’d like to see.

As an acquiring team, you’d prefer the guy with multiple years of control left to have the peripherals that suggest improvement, because his contract could provide time for his numbers to regulate and regress to the mean. If you were targeting the rental, you may prefer his results to outshine his peripherals (like Dan Haren), because that could theoretically be more sustainable in the short term – perhaps some little thing is helping him out more than usual. Either way, none of these guys represents big upgrades over what the Cubs currently have, but all could bring (to a varying degree) some much needed stability to the back end of the Cubs rotation.

Brad Hand also has a fair amount of control left – not arbitration eligible until 2017 – so he’s cheap, but he hasn’t quite gotten the results (5.48 ERA) you’d be comfortable relying on. He does have a very nice 2.52 FIP and a fairly solid 3.76 xFIP, though, so there may be more there than meets the eye. Indeed, his .352 BABIP and 58.1 LOB% leads you to believe he has been a bit unlucky with his bounces (career .283 BABIP) and his sequencing (career 68.6 LOB%). Those numbers make me relatively intrigued, especially for 2016 and beyond, but I’m not sure he’s the immediate upgrade the Cubs should be looking for. Additionally, cheap, young players with multiple years of control and solid peripherals are exactly the type of player the Marlins should be holding on to. He has been mentioned before, though, so I guess anything is possible.

Lastly, we have a utility/third base option, Martin Prado, who is a nice change of pace from most of the other potential targets we’ve looked at this year. Prado’s name has been mentioned in several general rumors throughout the season, and it would make sense for the Marlins to trade him – with a year and half of control left and adequate performance, his value will never be greater. Of course, Kris Bryant plays third base, so this one wouldn’t be as easy to fit in. The Cubs could move Kris Bryant to left field, pushing Chris Coghlan permanently to the bench, but I’m not sure how much of a net positive that is. Coghlan (107 wRC+, .329 wOBA) is almost certainly a better offensive performer than Prado (92 wRC+, .305 wOBA), so there isn’t much to gain there – especially when you add in the platoon advantage.

All of this goes without mentioning that Javier Baez could return soon, possibly at third base, and Kyle Schwarber could eventually learn left field, as well. Ultimately, there seems to be a lot stacked against acquiring Prado, at least if regarded as a starter and an offensive upgrade. He would undoubtedly be an upgrade to the bench as a utility player, but his contract is awfully onerous for that role.

If you missed it, by the way, there’s a fresh Cubs-Latos rumor making the rounds earlier today.

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