In 2013, baseball fans got to watch two incredible young righties breaking out. Soon thereafter, each young righty broke.
I speak, of course, of Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez, each of whom was must watch baseball a couple years ago before Tommy John surgery took them out of action, Harvey first, then Fernandez. Harvey returned last year and looked just about no worse for the wear, which will be a notable point of comparison – for some – in projecting Fernandez’s return in 2016 after surgery in early 2014. The big difference, of course, is that Fernandez actually did come back for a bit last year – and was quite good – before a biceps injury (that was thought to be a shoulder injury) ate up much of his August and September. Next season will be his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, as 2015 was for Harvey, but Fernandez has already had a separate injury in his comeback. It makes you a little nervous.
Why am I going through all of this? Well, aside from the notable similarities in the players’ career trajectories, I’m mentioning it because Fernandez’s ability to be great in 2016 will be of considerable discussion if this rumor is true:
Growing sentiment around Baseball and internally with the @marlins is Jose Fernandez will be traded this offseason.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) November 17, 2015
To be sure, per Marlins.com, Marlins sources immediately said that the team is not shopping Fernandez (which doesn’t quite mean the same thing as “we’re not trading him, even if someone comes with a great offer”). But, especially when you consider the friction between Fernandez’s agent, Scott Boras, and the Marlins’ front office, as well as the Marlins’ parsimonious ways, a trade seems possible.
What could the Marlins command for Fernandez? I’d think a ton, given his extreme talent. Sure, it’s tempered by the injuries, and only three arbitration years of control remaining, but Fernandez is just 23, will make only about $2.2 million in 2016 (per MLBTR’s projections), and is a stuuuuud.
My guess is that teams won’t be able to come together on a fair deal given the huge upside and injury-risk downside (it’s hard to value a guy like that and then pull the trigger on the risk), but, if he’s available, you can bet the Cubs will absolutely check in on Fernandez. And I’m not going to speculate on what it would cost to actually complete a trade, because it would be uncomfortable.
Instead, for now, I’ll just say that I’m highly interested to see if actual rumors – involving the Cubs, or any other team – actually pop up. Seems like the Marlins would be best off keeping him for another inexpensive year, at least, and see where the chips fall after this season. If Fernandez breaks out again, they could be in the catbird seat (or they could actually have been competitive, what with Giancarlo Stanton around, and some other nice, young pieces).