The Miami Marlins (43-57) surprised many with their four-game series split with the San Diego Padres (58-44). Playing despite an injury-riddled roster and a rotation missing each member from Opening Day, the Marlins managed to delight their fans with a pair of impressive wins ahead of the trade deadline.
Injuries and inconsistencies submarined a season where Miami harbored playoff hopes. Now, as the Marlins head to Baltimore for a quick two-game set against the AL’s worst team, all sights turn to the trade deadline.
Marlins Surprise Padres Ahead of Trade Deadline
While not technically out of the race (11 games back in the NL East), the Marlins slipped to 16 games under .500 with their loss Friday night. Miami dropped seven of nine games coming out of the All-Star break and the season’s tail spin certainly felt like it crash landed.
But Saturday and Sunday showed this club will not quit, despite the depleted roster.
Lewis Brinson, whose three-run homer on Sunday broke the game open for the Marlins, said the team would not “lay down.” Brinson’s a good example, too, considering he’s hitting .357 with a 1.152 OPS over the six games since his return to the Marlins.
The Marlins also saw encouraging signs from Braxton Garrett, a player some assume might be used to acquire offensive talent at the trade deadline. The 23-year-old responded to his latest opportunity with a career-best outing: seven IP, four hits, two earned runs and 10 strikeouts. He provided the beleaguered bullpen with some rest and improved upon his 5.40 MLB ERA.
Miami also received a lift Sunday from South Florida native Deven Marrero. One of the many players to enter through the revolving door at the bottom of the 40-man roster, Marrero took advantage of his opportunity, going 3-for-4 including a homer. Although unlikely to stick long-term, Marrero flashed MLB-ready usefulness that may see him stick for now.
Another, less surprising, turn of events came with Joel Sherman’s report that the Marlins made a contract extension offer to Sandy Alcantara. Those negotiations remain on going and the Marlins hold Alcantara in high regard. As Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said Saturday: “he’s our No. 1 guy…and I think he’s only going to continue to get better and better.”
Marlins Focused on Trade Deadline
Most around baseball expect the Marlins to be “sellers” at the trade deadline. However, Jeter and company look at this more as an opportunity to improve the team.
“I think you go to the Trade Deadline the last couple of years, the moves we’ve made have been to make our organization better,” Jeter said Saturday.
2021 signals the fourth trade deadline for the Marlins new ownership group. They’ve been active in each previous one. In 2018, Miami flipped Cameron Maybin to the Mariners for Bryson Brigman, who’s raking at Triple-A Jacksonville and could get a look this season. In 2019, the Marlins landed the trio of Jazz Chisholm, Lewin Diaz and Jesus Sanchez in a series of moves. Last year, Miami acquired Starling Marte and Griffin Conine in separate deals.
“Every move we’ve made is to get better, and that’s what we keep in mind every Trade Deadline,” Jeter said. “So anything that we’re going to possibly do, we’re looking out for the organization.”
Jeter did admit there’s “disappointment for everyone” with the way this season is playing out. However, “[t]he organization is stronger than it was three and a half years ago when we took over, but we could be better.”
He went on to say: “We need to continue to get better here, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
The Marlins are expected to be very active and Craig Mish recently said he expects the team to make a major move. Miami understands there are clear needs at both catcher and center field.
Jesus Aguilar, meanwhile, told “Swings and Mishes en Español”’s Daniel Alvarez that he wants to stay in Miami.
— Swings and Mishes (@SwingsAndMishes) July 23, 2021
Up Next: at Baltimore Orioles (34-64)
The Marlins head north to Baltimore for a quick, two-game set with the AL’s worst team. These two clubs split two games earlier this season. Miami won all four matchups in 2020.
Despite having the AL’s worst record, Baltimore is 6-4 over their last 10 games. They sport a .232 batting average, with a 4.16 team ERA over that span. The Orioles enter coming off a sweep of Washington, which has reportedly shifted the Nationals into “seller” mode.
Alcantara should start the first game for Miami, likely squaring off against RHP Spenser Watkins (2-0, 1.65 ERA). The Marlins starter for game two is TBD, but Baltimore will probably send RHP Jorge Lopez (2-12, 5.84 ERA) to the mound.
Miami is 4-6 over their last 10, with a .229 batting average and 4.38 team ERA. The Marlins get another off-day Thursday ahead of Friday’s trade deadline and a weekend series with the New York Yankees (51-47).
The next several days leading to the trade deadline should prove to be very interesting for the Marlins. This team has clear needs on offense and has shown in the past a willingness to deal from depth. The stocked cabinet of pitching prospects could yield a difference-making position player.
It’s hard to imagine the team dealing from rotation staples like Alcantara, Pablo Lopez or Trevor Rogers if they want to compete for a playoff spot in 2022. The team definitely needs to address catcher and center field moving forward.
Miami needs to carve out space for Lewin Diaz at the MLB level in the same way it did for Jesus Sanchez, so a trade involving Aguilar or Garrett Cooper might be in the offing. Having a DH for 2022 could create enough space for one of the two to remain in Miami.