The Miami Marlins have been a rumored seller and rumored buyer in recent MLB rumors. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Marlins acquired first baseman Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros to increase production at first base. Lee has gotten off to a slow start in Miami, hitting just .220 with 1 home run and RBI in 15 games and the Marlins have continued to lose.
Yesterday, the Marlins sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, catching prospect Rob Brantly, and left-handed pitching prospect Brian Flynn. It seems as if the Marlins went from going all in to trying to get out in the span of less than twenty days.
Now, rumors are flying about that third baseman Hanley Ramirez is on the block along with ace Josh Johnson, who has drawn interest from the Los Angeles Angels, veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco, and the recently acquired Carlos Lee. Left-hander Mark Buehrle, who was signed as a free agent this past offseason, might also be on the block but he has a severely back-loaded contract that will see him earn $6 million this year, $11 million in 2013, $18 million in 2014, and $19 million in 2015. That might be enough to scare away some teams, especially the New York Yankees who had shown a slight interest in Buehrle before he signed with the Marlins. However, Buehrle might be an option for a team like the Baltimore Orioles who are in the playoff hunt for the first time since 1997 and are in desperate need of pitching to get them there. The Boston Red Sox, who have been thrown around as a suitor for Hanley Ramirez are also in need of pitching and can offer a decent haul of prospects for Buehrle but it is unknown if the Red Sox would want to take such a bad contract during the last two years of the deal in return. However, if the Red Sox can unload Carl Crawford they would have the money to pursue the pitching they so desperately need. Perhaps a blockbuster deal involving Hanley and either Nolasco, Buehrle, or Johnson could work if Crawford was part of the package.
Right now, the Marlins could have some of the best pieces a contending team needs and it looks as if they are in break it down mode and nobody is more experienced at building and breaking apart teams than the Marlins. Obviously, Hanley Ramirez would command a decent haul in return but it might take more than just prospects to pry Ramirez away. The Marlins have a lot invested in their new stadium and have been facing an uphill battle trying to convince their fanbase that they are committed to fielding a winning team. A selloff might discourage fans from coming out to the ballpark and in turn force the Marlins to pare even more payroll.
The Marlins have to decide if they think they can win with this team in the near future. There is enough talent to certainly contend in the National League East but is that enough to prevent the Marlins from blowing up this team that caused so much excitement this past offseason?