The Marlins were prepared to trade the former first-round draft pick for the Angels center field prospect, according to the Miami Herald.
Everybody with a least a bit of baseball knowledge knows that the Marlins need more quality hitters if they want to be a competitive team in the upcoming seasons. While their pitching is among the best in the league, their offense is among the worst ones.
In an attempt to get long-term bats, their front office was close to pulling off a trade with the Angels before the trade deadline on July 30, according to the Miami Herald. The Marlins would have shipped off pitching prospect Max Meyer to receive outfield prospect Brandon Marsh. It’s unclear which additional players may have been discussed between the teams.
The Angels reportedly backed away from the 1-for-1 idea, and thank God they did.
You don’t just trade a top arm like Meyer, who by the way you just drafted a year ago as your number one pick. You don’t just trade him for an outfielder.
Marsh could end up being pretty good—he’s a highly-touted prospect with 60-hit, 60-run, 60-field and 60-arm scouting grades (on a 20-80 scale). The guy has the potential to develop into a star. But he’s a young man who has suffered some injuries, hit .255/.364/.468 in 24 games in Triple-A (nothing spectacular), and has posted a .167/.259/.229 slash line in 15 games as a major leaguer.
Beyond Marsh’s small sample size struggles at the highest levels, let me tell you three more reasons why this would have been inappropriate for Miami.
First, they have plenty of other promising outfielders or at least a number to be comfortable with. Jesús Sánchez made an impression as the everyday left fielder this year before his COVID related setback. JJ Bleday is getting much better offensively in the second half of 2021. Then there’s Griffin Conine, who’s just torching this campaign with more home runs than any other MLB prospect.
Big week for big bats.
Griffin Conine and JJ Bleday crushed the ball last week at Blue Wahoos Stadium! pic.twitter.com/0QEwqJaDZH
— Pensacola Blue Wahoos (@BlueWahoosBBall) August 3, 2021
They are each approximately the same age as Marsh.
If the Marlins want another outfielder, it’s gotta be someone experienced to lead and be an example for a young core—someone like Starling Marté before he was traded to the Athletics. Pursue that kind of player in free agency next year or via trading with a different organization.
Second, speaking of the open market, it’s much easier to find a consistent, productive bat at an affordable price than getting a pitching gem like Meyer that can give you plenty of glorious seasons with six-plus years under your control.
If you don’t believe me, look at the Rangers. In February 2019, Texas signed Hunter Pence to a Minors deal. Pence ended up as an All-Star and winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year. The next offseason, the Rangers purchased minor-leaguer Adolis García from the Cardinals. During his first opportunity in The Show this year, he went to the All-Star Game, has 23 home runs, 63 RBIs, and a 2.5 bWAR. How about that?
You can even look at the Marlins with Jesús Aguilar and Adam Duvall. In 2021, those guys combined for 40 four-baggers and 143 runs batted in before Duvall was traded to the Braves on Friday. The former is a result of a waiver claim while the latter signed for $5MM to be a Marlin.
If you told me the Marlins are confident in Marsh’s eventual success, I’d tell you that you can offer someone else to the Angels, who have been desperately needing good pitchers for years. You could’ve even packaged Zach Thompson (or another MLB arm) with Nick Neidert or get creative. Build a package good enough to get Marsh without hurting you.
Third, you don’t want to make another bad trade that ends in painful regret. Do you remember how the Diamondbacks traded away Max Scherzer for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy? Even worse, do you remember how the Orioles flipped then 24-year-olds Curt Schilling and Steve Finley to Houston in 1991? Do you remember how the Tigers sent John Smoltz to the Braves in 1987? He became a Hall of Famer!!!
You just don’t trade Meyer at this stage of his career. This guy, who’s a year younger than Marsh, is dazzling in Double-A in his first taste of MiLB. He is essentially having the same success he had in the NCAA.
Across 14 starts and 70 innings pitched, the righty is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. He’s surrendered 52 hits, 15 earned runs, and five home runs. He’s dealt with a bit high 3.9 BB/9 ratio, but he’s registered 74 strikeouts. Plus, he’s carrying a 1.17 WHIP and a 9.5 K/9 mark. Meyer, the third-best prospect in the organization, has dominated with his 70-grade fastball and his also 70-grade slider.
His recent performances tell us how well he’s been addressing those walk problems, as Meyer has given up just seven walks in his last 27 innings, a span in which his ERA is at 1.67.
Do you see why I insist on building around Meyer? In 2022 and beyond, the Marlins can have a juggernaut rotation and enviable pitching depth. Max Meyer needs to be a part of that. Period.