No one can doubt Jose Fernandez‘s talent. At just 20-years-old, he may have little to gain or prove from more time in the minor leagues.
However, he is even less valuable to the Miami Marlins franchise in the major leagues.
Considering that the Marlins have no plans to contend in the near future, they should not be starting the service time clocks of their elite prospects. There is little logic behind having Fernandez on the major league club.
The two negligible reasons to have Fernandez pitching in the bigs are competitiveness and attendance. Fernandez, even at 20-years-old, is surely the most talented pitcher anywhere in the Marlins organization. Also, the excitement and buzz associated with this phenom could draw fans to the ballpark.
The Marlins, however, are going to lag in attendance and in the standings, regardless of Fernandez’s performance.
The downside to their decision is much more substantive. If Fernandez is not in the minor leagues for 20 days this season, which it looks like he will not, he will be eligible for free agency one year sooner. By wasting a year of service time now, the Marlins will have to pay Fernandez big money or risk losing him before they are ever viable contenders.
Also, if the Marlins anticipate trading Fernandez, the same logic applies. Fernandez’s value would correlate directly with the number of years that he is under team control. He will have less value on the trade market, if eligible for free agency one year sooner.
Though Jeffery Loria‘s motives and thought processes are frequently unpredictable and puzzling, the decision to have Jose Fernandez in the major leagues is among the most indefensible.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.