MLB

Rosenthal: Marlins trading Jose Fernandez would be crazy

The Marlins have had a history of trading some of their most-talented players.

Joel Auerbach Getty Images North America

The Marlins have had some dumb ideas in the past. Trading Jose Fernandez, though, would be the dumbest.

Sirius XM Radio host Craig Mish floated the possibility Tuesday, tweeting, "Growing sentiment around baseball and the Marlins is (that) Jose Fernandez will be traded this offseason."

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Mish, who according to the Miami Herald has broken several Marlins stories over the years, later told the newspaper that there is "a very high probability" that Fernandez will be traded. Marlins officials, in talking to the Herald, did not completely dismiss the notion.

To which we ask: Are the Marlins insane?

Wait, don't answer that question. Just know this: If the Marlins traded Fernandez, they would break their fans' hearts (again), anger right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (again) and almost certainly compromise their chances of competing in 2016.

Oh, and the Marlins also could jeopardize their chances of renegotiating their TV contract with FOX Sports, which expires in '20. I have zero idea where those talks stand, even though I work for FOX. But I do know that networks like stars and, ahem, winning teams.

We get that the Marlins don't like Fernandez's agent, Scott Boras, who recently criticized team officials for demoting another of his clients, center fielder Marcell Ozuna, last July.

Fernandez, though, is the face of the franchise -- even more than Stanton, given the pitcher's Cuban roots and importance to the city's Cuban-American population. The Marlins say they want to win while Fernandez is under club control for the next three seasons. And oh yes, they also will host the All-Star Game in 2017.

Who knows, maybe the Marlins figure they could somehow improve by trading Fernandez (I'd like to see those proposals). The pitcher's injuries -- Tommy John surgery in May 2014, a right biceps strain after returning last season -- might be giving the team pause. But if anything, Fernandez should be stronger next season, in his second year removed from Tommy John.

Trade him?

The Marlins should be building around Fernandez, signing a starting pitcher such as free-agent righty Mike Leake, trading for a closer such as the Phillies' Ken Giles -- the Marlins are interested in both, sources say.

Spare us the insanity, and fix the team.

CARDINALS NOT DESPERATE

Just for the sake of discussion, let's pretend that the Cardinals do nothing this offseason. No Jason Heyward, no John Lackey, no major play for David Price, Chris Davis or any other free agent.

It's not going to happen, of course -- owner Bill DeWitt has signaled that the team will increase payroll, and the Cardinals certainly are in excellent financial shape thanks to a reported 15-year, $1 billion-plus deal with FOX Sports Midwest that starts in 2018.

Still, the team is coming off a 100-win season, and its nucleus is perhaps better than people perceive. Put it this way: The Cardinals do not see themselves in dire straits even as they face the potential losses of Heyward and Lackey on top of right-hander Lance Lynn, who will miss the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Adam Wainwright will return to the rotation, joining Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia and Tyler Lyons/Marco Gonzales. The Cardinals need at least one more, considering the risk of injury with a number of those pitchers. But club officials are high on Lyons, whom they project will perform as well as some of the starters on the open market.

In the outfield, the loss of Heyward could be masked by increased playing time for Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty, none of whom had more than 350 plate appearances last season, and the presumed return of a healthy Matt Holliday in left. Even at first base, a combination of Matt Adams and Brandon Moss would figure to be at least serviceable.

The Cardinals, though, want to be better than that -- only four National League teams scored fewer runs last season. They can't bank on Holliday, 35, and catcher Yadier Molina, 33, to be what they once were. So, a premium offensive addition makes complete sense.

Free-agent everyman Ben Zobrist is a target, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. The problem is, Zobrist ideally wants to play second base and shift between positions as needed. The Cardinals cannot offer him second ahead of Kolten Wong. And their outfield currently is jammed.

One thought would be to trade Holliday, who is owed $17 million next season with a $17 million club option for 2017 (the option would become guaranteed if Holliday finishes in the top 10 in the MVP voting, but he has managed that only once, in 2007).

Holliday, though, possesses full no-trade protection. He isn't interested in leaving St. Louis, friends say, and to approve any trade, he might want his option exercised. So, the solution might be to pursue a different and more dramatic free-agent upgrade -- say, signing Davis to hit behind Holliday instead of Heyward to hit in front of him.

Even as the Cardinals gain greater financial flexibility, such moves aren't their style. They won't be inactive. They can't be inactive. The question is how much they want to flex their financial muscle, how far they are willing to go.

THE HIDDEN VALUE OF KIMBREL

Craig Kimbrel will be a fine addition for the Red Sox mostly because of what he does on the mound. But some with the Sox also value him for the leadership they expect him to provide for younger relievers such as Matt Barnes.

Leadership is a tricky subject, in large part because it cannot be quantified. The Sox won the 2013 World Series with Koji Uehara as their closer and might have been fine if he had remained their closer. But English is a second language for the Sox's two Japanese relievers, Uehara and setup man Junichi Tazawa.

Kimbrel, on the other hand, is now 27, entering his sixth full season. If, for example, Barnes gives up three runs in the seventh inning of a close game, Kimbrel can provide him with encouragement and advice, without a language barrier.

No question, performance matters most, for Kimbrel, for Barnes, for every Sox reliever. But leadership, one Sox official said, "is an aspect of Kimbrel that people don't realize."

ALL ABOUT THE A'S

According to major-league sources, the Dodgers were one of the teams to make a run at left-hander Rich Hill, who agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract with the Athletics, pending a physical.

The addition indeed increases the chances of the A's trading right-hander Jesse Chavez, as reported by Yahoo's Jeff Passan. Chavez projects to make less than Hill in arbitration and will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Athletics are not going to make Chavez a qualifying offer, and the depth of their rotation -- while tenuous due to the returns of Jesse Hahn and Jarrod Parker from injuries -- is increasing. So, if the A's can flip Chavez to augment another part of the club, they will.

The A's also showed interest in K-Rod before the Brewers traded him to the Tigers, sources said, but ultimately did not want to take on the remaining commitment, which will be at least $9.5 million.

GEOGRAPHY MATTERS, WINNING MORE

Zobrist, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., is open to playing in any city, sources said. But proximity to home could be a factor in his decision if all else is somewhat equal.

St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Cincinnati and Atlanta are the major-league cities closest to Nashville. Zobrist's priority is to play for a winner; the Reds and Braves are rebuilding.