The Miami Marlins continued to sell off key bullpen pieces as they dealt closer A.J. Ramos to the New York Mets in exchange for minor league prospects Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes.
A.J. Ramos was just having an average season for the Marlins as their closer, yet the Marlins still got a good return for him as they are getting two quality prospects from the Mets. The main prospect that the Marlins are getting in this deal is 21-year old right-handed starting pitcher Merandy Gonzalez who was the 9th ranked prospect in the Mets farm system. Gonzalez has been outstanding this season in the minor leagues as he is 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA. He is still a few years from reaching the MLB level since he is only in Class A advanced right now, but he has the potential to be a very good starting pitcher for the Marlins. The other prospect that the Marlins received in this trade is 19-year old outfielder Ricardo Cespedes who was the 22nd ranked Mets prospect. Cespedes hasn’t been very productive in the minor leagues as he only has 2 home runs and a .271 average in 4 seasons. Cespedes is a very raw prospect at this point as he still needs to develop some more power or he needs to at least start hitting for a better average. Cespedes does have a strong arm, but that is about the only above average skill that he has at this point. Cespedes is talented, but he just hasn’t developed most of his skills yet and it is unknown whether he ever will. The Marlins did well with this trade as they are getting 2 quality prospects for a relief pitcher that has been average this season. Miami needs some more starting pitching badly and Merandy Gonzalez sure looks like he can be an impact player for the Marlins in a few years.
New York Mets analysis/grade:
I’m not quite sure what the logic of making this trade is for the Mets since they have been trying to trade away all of their veteran relief pitchers, but now they are adding one in exchange for two quality prospects. A.J. Ramos is under team control for the 2018 season, so he isn’t just a rental player for the Mets. However, the Mets probably won’t make the playoffs next season either and they could have just kept their own closer Addison Reed for next season rather than giving up prospects to acquire an average closer. Ramos has a 3.63 ERA and 20 saves this season which is decent, but he’s not a better option than Reed or other bullpen options that the team already has. The Mets have been trying to trade away their veteran players this season in order to acquire more prospects. However, this trade just sends the Mets in the completely opposite direction since they are now acquiring a veteran player and giving up too much in return. This trade doesn’t help the Mets immediately and it certainly doesn’t help the team for the future since they are giving up their 9th and 22nd ranked prospects. The Mets shouldn’t have made this trade as it doesn’t help them in any way and they will probably begin to regret it very soon.
The Miami Marlins traded relief pitcher David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for minor league prospects Brayan Hernandez, Brandon Miller, Pablo Lopez, and Lukas Schiraldi.
The Seattle Mariners have been looking to improve their bullpen as they look to make the playoffs this season for the first time since 2001. That is why the Mariners decided to trade for Marlins relief pitcher David Phelps on Thursday. Phelps was a starting pitcher and relief pitcher for the first 4 seasons of his career, but he struggled as a starter and he became a full-time relief pitcher in 2016. Phelps had an outstanding first season as a full-time relief pitcher that season as he had a 2.28 ERA. However, Phelps hasn’t been nearly as good this season for the Marlins as he has a 3.45 ERA. This acquisition does help the Mariners bullpen for the rest of this season and next season as well as he is under contract through 2018. Phelps is a good middle relief pitcher, but I’m just not sure that he will make much of an impact for the Mariners. Also, they certainly need other missing pieces like a catcher and some better relief pitchers in order to better compete for a playoff spot. Phelps shouldn’t be used as a late-inning option, but he is a good pitcher to use in the 6th or 7th inning. The problem with this trade for Seattle is that they gave up 4 young prospects in this deal which is too much to give up for a middle relief pitcher especially one that hasn’t been very consistent. Seattle even gave up their 6th, 16th, and 22nd ranked prospects in this deal which is way too much. Nobody knows if those prospects will ever be good MLB players, but it is still too much potential to give up for a relief pitcher that likely won’t make much of a difference. This trade might help the Mariners bullpen slightly this season and in 2018, but the risk of this trade just isn’t worth the reward for Seattle.
This is an outstanding trade for the Marlins as they are receiving 4 young prospects for a decent relief pitcher that was inconsistent during his time with the team. The biggest prize that the Marlins received in this trade is 19-year old outfielder Brayan Hernandez who was the 6th best prospect in the Mariners minor league system according to MLB.com. Hernandez has been inconsistent so far in his minor league career as he hit .281 in rookie ball in 2016. However, he hasn’t has much success in 28 games at Class A this season as he is only hitting .252 with 2 home runs. Hernandez will probably never be a decent power hitter, but the hope is that he can improve his average and be more of a line-drive hitter. Hernandez has good speed as he has 35 career stolen bases, but that won’t mean much unless he can continue to improve his offensive abilities. I’m not sure he’ll ever be a starter at the MLB level and he needs much more time to develop, but he has the potential to be a decent bench player one day. The Marlins also received right-handed starting pitcher prospect Brandon Miller who was the 16th best prospect in the Mariners farm system. Miller has been good in his 2 minor league seasons as he is 13-6 with a 3.32 ERA and he has the potential to make it to the majors in a few seasons if he can stay consistent. Miller has the potential to compete for the final spot in an MLB starting rotation at some point, but if that doesn’t work out then he could be a good long relief or middle relief pitcher. Miami also received right-handed starting pitcher Pablo Lopez who was the 22nd ranked prospect in the Mariners farm system. Lopez was outstanding in his first 3 minor league seasons as he had an ERA of 2.57, 3.13, and 2.13 in those seasons. However, Lopez has not been good in Class A advanced this season as he is 5-8 with a 5.04 ERA. Lopez is striking out a lot of batters this year, but he is also allowing tons of hits which explains his mediocre ERA. This season might just be a bump in the road for Lopez, but he will likely get back on track soon because he is still a good pitching prospect. Finally, the Marlins acquired 23-year old right-handed starting pitcher Lukas Schiraldi who was a 15th round pick by Seattle in 2014. Schiraldi isn’t a ranked prospect and he doesn’t have much potential. However, if he can turn around his minor league career then maybe he could be a decent depth relief pitcher for the Mariners. Schiraldi is 13-23 with a 4.65 ERA in his minor league career, so the Marlins are just hoping that somehow something will click and he will become a decent pitcher one day. He doesn’t have much of a chance of making it to the MLB, but possibly a change of organizations will help Schiraldi improve. Either way, this trade is a very big return for the Marlins as they now have 3 decent young prospects to work with for an average middle relief pitcher that was inconsistent at times.
Atlanta Braves – Biggest need: 2nd base
There is no doubt that Jace Peterson will be the Braves everyday starter at 2nd base, but he will need to be more consistent than he was last season. Peterson hit .254 with just 7 home runs last season, so Atlanta will need him to be better going forward. The Braves did add utility infielder Sean Rodriguez this offseason as a backup 2nd baseman. However, Atlanta will have to do something to improve the position very soon.
Miami Marlins – Biggest need: Shortstop
Adeiny Hechavarria is a shortstop that makes incredible defensive plays often, but his offense has certainly been a weakness throughout his MLB career. Hechavarria hit only .236 with 3 home runs last season so he is definitely an issue in the Marlins lineup. He doesn’t hit consistently and he doesn’t hit for much power as well. The only reason that he is the Marlins everyday shortstop is because of his defensive abilities. Miami needs some more depth at the position either way and it isn’t worth starting Hechavarria just for his defense since he is a liability offensively.
New York Mets – Biggest need: Catcher
The catcher position was a major weakness for the Mets last season especially after their starter Travis d’Arnaud was injured for a large portion of the year. d’Arnaud wasn’t a great option anyway for the Mets as he hit only .247 with 4 home runs in 2016. The Mets have solid depth at catcher, yet they need to find an upgrade at the position over d’Arnaud.
Philadelphia Phillies – Biggest need: Right Fielder
Philadelphia has a big need in right field as they have two inexperienced players that will compete for the starting job in 2017. Roman Quinn is the projected starter in right field right now, but he has hit only .263 in 57 career at-bats. Aaron Altherr has more experience than Quinn, but Altherr is a career .212 hitter which isn’t very promising. Either way, it is a mystery as to how Quinn or Altherr will perform with the starting right field job. The Phillies need to sign a veteran right fielder to a 1-year deal in order to provide a temporary solution to the position.
Washington Nationals – Biggest need: Closer
The Nationals let go of closer Jonathan Papelbon after he had a poor season in 2016 and the team was confident that they would be able to sign a top free agent closer. However, all of the top free agent closers are now signed and yet the Nationals still have a need for a closer. The Nationals’ options at closer are running out and it appears that they’ll have to find a closer from their roster. Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen, and Sammy Solis are all candidates to be the team’s closer in 2017. However, none of those guys seems like a very good option especially for a team that has world series aspirations.
The Miami Marlins continued to rebuild their bullpen this offseason as they signed veteran relief pitcher Brad Ziegler to a 2-year/$16 million deal. Ziegler is 37 years old, yet he is still as productive as ever as he had a 2.25 ERA with 22 saves in 2016 for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox. Miami lost out on signing some of the top closers in free agency, but at least the signing of Ziegler provides them a proven and consistent option as their closer in 2017. The Marlins likely will use Ziegler as an 8th inning option at least to start next season and that certainly isn’t a bad role for him as it still provides some stability to the bullpen. Miami has already signed veteran Junichi Tazawa to be the 7th inning guy in 2017, so the addition of Ziegler as well makes this bullpen much improved for next year. Ziegler has been one of the most consistent relief pitchers in the MLB throughout his career as he has a 2.44 ERA. He might not throw hard and he’s not as entertaining to watch as other relief pitchers, although he finds a way to get the job done every year. Either way, Ziegler gives the Marlins a fallback option for the 9th inning role and he will make the Marlins bullpen much improved in 2017.
The Miami Marlins have made it a priority to provide some more stability to their bullpen and they did that by signing Junichi Tazawa to a 2-year/$12 million contract. Tazawa has had a good MLB career as he has a 3.58 ERA and he was a key part of Boston’s 2013 world series team. However, the past 2 seasons have been a struggle for Tazawa with the Red Sox as he had a 4.14 ERA in 2015 and a 4.17 ERA last season. Tazawa still has a lot of years left in him though as he is only 30 years old currently, but the decrease in his fastball velocity is concerning. The Marlins were hoping to land a top closer in free agency and although that didn’t happen they still should have an improved bullpen by signing Tazawa. I fully expect his stats to improve next season and he should be a good 7th inning option for Miami. Overall, this is a good acquisition for the Marlins since their bullpen wasn’t very good last season and Tazawa is a proven setup man that should provide some stability.
The Miami Marlins seemed to have found their new backup catcher as they signed veteran A.J. Ellis to a 1-year/$2.5 million deal. Ellis has been with the Dodgers for most of his career as he spent 13 years with that organization before being traded to the Phillies in August. He doesn’t provide much offense as he hit only .216 with 2 home runs last season, but at 35 years old he does provide quality veteran leadership for the Marlins. Ellis also knows how to handle pitching staffs well and he’s mostly known for his defense. Ellis certainly won’t see much playing time as J.T. Realmuto is clearly the starting catcher for Miami. However, Ellis will be a good leader in the clubhouse even when he isn’t playing and he will be a good replacement if Realmuto needs a day off. Ellis replaces Jeff Mathis as the Marlins backup catcher after Mathis left for Arizona in free agency. Ellis can’t be relied upon to replace Realmuto for an extended period of time since Ellis has never really been a productive offensive catcher. However, this is a good signing for Miami since Ellis is a great leader and he provides some solid defense if Realmuto needs a day off.
The Miami Marlins tried to bolster their starting rotation on Wednesday as they signed left-handed pitcher Jeff Locke to a 1-year/$3.025 million contract. Locke was non-tendered by the Pirates this offseason after he had a poor season with a 5.44 ERA. The Marlins needed some more pitching depth this offseason and they added to it already by signing Edinson Volquez. However, Locke figures to be the 5th starter in Miami’s rotation in 2017 which isn’t necessary a bad thing considering he was a good pitcher just a few years ago. We will see if Locke can improve in 2017 and help out the Marlins rotation by providing at least some consistency. This is as decent signing for Miami especially since Locke can provide the quality pitching depth that they had been lacking. Don’t expect Locke to put up impressive stats, but I’m sure that around a 4.00 ERA would make this signing good for the Marlins.