August 1, 2014
Astros, Marlins, Swap Sell-Low Guys
Acquired 3B-L Colin Moran, OF-R Jake Marisnick, RHP Francis Martes, and a 2015 compensation pick from Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Jarred Cosart, UT-R Enrique Hernandez, and OF-R Austin Wates. [7/31]
It’s understandable why the Marlins made Marisnick available with Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton giving them a pretty good and cost-controlled outfield of guys who can still help them in 2014. He hasn’t shown yet that he is major league ready. The .178/.226/.223 tell most of the story, but the nine walks and 46 strikeouts in 169 plate appearances probably tell it better.
The Astros went into delay-the-future mode again in acquiring Marisnick as the major league portion of this trade. He’s 23 and while he’ll be up in the majors immediately, he enters sort of a crowded situation.
Their big call-up this year, George Springer, can play center field, as can Dexter Fowler. Both of those guys are hurt, but if Fowler comes back healthy he becomes an offseason trade candidate to clear out some of the jam.
First Marisnick has to turn the major league portion of his career around. He’d never been a huge strikeout guy in the minors, so unlike the Astros’ recent debutants and trade targets like Jon Singleton, Springer and Chris Carter, it’s harder to say that the 27.2% K rate is just part of his game. He’s not a huge power guy, although Minute Maid Park should be good for the right-handed swing.
The carrying tool for Moran is his hit tool, and his ability to put the barrel of the bat on the baseball is better than most of his minor league counterparts. It's what earned him a successful career at North Carolina, got him drafted 6th overall last year, and has his batting average hovering around .300 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Unfortunately, that's Moran's only plus tool. He does not drive the ball well, though his strong wrists does lead to some doubles power even when he gets fooled. But as a corner infielder, his home run power will be below average. He's at third base for now, but his range is below average. He'll need to move to first base eventually. Lastly, he looks terribly uncomfortable in the batter's box against left-handed pitchers and I've had multiple scouts complain about his body language during games.
The ability to hit .300 shouldn't be dismissed, but without strong plate discipline or above average power to go with it, Moran has the potential to hit a very empty .300. If he can stay at third base, he could be an everyday player, though probably a second-division regular. If and when he's forced over to first base, he projects as a platoon bat. —Jeff Moore
Don't sleep on Martes just because he's a complex level pitcher with less-than-spectacular numbers. He has a very live arm, up to 97 this summer, showing a hard, power breaking ball with legit potential. Of course, he's an undersized, righty Dominican so the first thought will be a bullpen projection. And even though that might end up being the case, getting Martes thrown into an already thick deal should be considered a very big win for the Astros, as 18-year-old arms that can touch 97 are always exciting to have in your system. —Jason Parks
Cosart is exactly the type of pitcher the Marlins love: big, tall, hard-throwing righty who keeps the baseball on the ground. However, the right-hander hasn’t been a fantasy superstar because he doesn’t strikeout batters and issues too many walks, which leads to huge problems in the WHIP category. A move to Marlins Park would normally be a boon for any pitcher, but Cosart severely limits homers already. Moving to a ballpark that suppresses homers isn’t a massive upgrade. Instead, fantasy owners are left with a guy who doesn’t provide much in any category, which is why he’s currently the 127th-ranked starter in ESPN leagues. A pinch of upside remains with Cosart, but the underlying issues in terms of fantasy production remains. He’s a fringe play in deeper formats and remains as such.
The 22-year-old isn’t an impact bat, but he was at least getting everyday at-bats in Houston. That doesn’t project to continue in Miami, unless they’re willing to bump Jordany Valdespin or Adeiny Hechavarria in favor of Hernandez. He offers little power, hasn’t run much throughout his professional career, and doesn’t have a massive track record of high batting averages. Unless the specific playing-time situation and position in the batting order are absolutely perfect, he’ll be an afterthought in standard mixed fantasy leagues. —J.P. Breen
Acquired RHP Jarred Cosart, UT-R Enrique Hernandez, and OF-R Austin Wates from Houston Astros in exchange for 3B-L Colin Moran, OF-R Jake Marisnick, RHP Francis Martes, and a 2015 compensation pick. [7/31]
There were a lot of funny things said on Baseball Twitter today, which you would expect when we’re all trying to out-funny each other on big events where everything relevant has been said in the first few seconds. But this one struck me particularly funny when I saw it.
So they’ll keep the guy they’d be selling high on and sell the guy they’re selling low on. Got it. Kinda makes you wonder where they’re finding all their new front office hires.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about selling high vs. selling low. When Matt Kemp delivered a game-winning hit to extend his hot streak on Deadline Eve, I thought about it again.
But when 4 p.m. Eastern Time had long passed today, I thought about it again and realized the whole notion might actually be pretty insulting.
What are we really saying when we applaud a team for selling high on a guy? They tricked another team into thinking that the guy is really what he’s been in the past week? This doesn’t seem right. From the most advanced to the most lagging teams, nobody is going to be fooled by a hot streak. Whether they’re doing it on paper or just subconsciously, everybody is regressing everything that’s done today.
Selling healthy? Yes. This can be a huge advantage. But selling hot? However the calculations changed for you, they changed for baseball. Nobody’s getting suckered, or if they are, it’s not by this.
So back to Cosart, whose ERA is twice what it was last year. If this was your fantasy league (or somebody’s fantasy league) you’d be selling low on him. But Cosart is the same guy he always was. In fact, his peripherals have been even better than when he fluked his way to outstanding run prevention last year.
The walk rate is getting better but is still high. The strikeout rate isn’t what you’d think from seeing his fastball, his minor league stats or just the trend in the game. And both of these ERAs are lower than his two seasonal fair run averages, which were nearly twins in the 4.9 range.
The stuff – not anything beyond the very surface of his high or low performance – is what could give another of the 29 teams hope on him, and in this case the Marlins.
He’s mostly a cutter guy and gets that up to an average of 95 mph with the rare four-seamer a fraction of a tick higher and the rarer sinker a fraction lower. After that he’s curveball and less than 5 percent changes and sliders.
Since the day he was acquired as part of the Hunter Pence trade, he’s been trailed by whispers of a future in relief. That’s probably not today for the Marlins, who have been getting good starts from everyone but Nathan Eovaldi lately and can maybe fill the spot of a Brad Hand or Jacob Turner. Cosart may someday be the closer in Miami though with a skill set that really fits the profile.
Miami, entering Thursday, had a 4.7% chance to make the playoffs according to our playoff odds page. It’s a similar situation to the last time these two made a biggish July deal with the remains of Carlos Lee heading east and the Astros getting an everyday third baseman – albeit hardly a first-division one – in Matt Dominguez. This isn’t that, though. While they’re getting the most established player in the trade, this is a move for that remote shot now that still doesn’t leave them without some talent in the future – especially if they got a closer out of it.
As for the Astros in trading Cosart: They didn’t have to do it. This was a player who was still more than a year away from commanding more than pennies above the minimum. As Jeff Luhnow said, they didn’t even want to do it – they just loved the haul that they got.
It was a tumultuous year-plus for the hometown team and three years for the organization whose fanbase and media (guilty) have a recent history of overhyping prospects for the sake of having some hope and something to write about, respectively. Cosart was brash in joining the organization and has had three significant social media mishaps, something the Marlins are used to. He ripped the organization’s decision-making for promotions and demotions while still in the minors and he’s used slurs both for gay people and mentally handicapped people, which earned him admonishment.
He’s still young and might benefit from an organization that hasn’t been so toxic lately. Amazingly, the Marlins fit that description these days.
That the Marlins reportedly made him a sticking point in this negotiation says a lot about just how far Hernandez has come in the past few months to veer off the org. guy track.
Not that he’s old (23 in a few weeks) but he was never a top prospect after going in the sixth round of the 2009 draft out of Puerto Rico. His Lancaster numbers didn’t stand out like they’re supposed to there, and after an average season in Double-A last year, he was sent back there this season. But opportunities presented themselves and with Hernandez’s ability to play middle infield and center field, the Astros turned him into a trade chip.
He’s not a center fielder. He’s probably a second baseman, the position he played the most in the minors, but he won’t kill you elsewhere, especially as he gets more comfortable with time.
A right-handed hitter, he hasn’t been much of a platoon split guy in the upper minors, nor in his brief time in the majors. That can be seen as a good thing if you’re looking for an everyday player or as a bad thing in a crowded playing time situation, which the Marlins might have.
They don’t have much working for them at second base with Jordany Valdespin and Donovan Solano taking the injured Derek Dietrich’s starts, and this could be an upgrade or at least a more unknown quantity. —Zachary Levine
Marisnick has always has an interesting power/speed fantasy profile. In Miami, though, he was blocked across the outfield and didn’t project to receive regular playing time in the near future. In Houston, he’ll have a much better chance to crack the everyday lineup and offer some value for fantasy owners -- perhaps as soon as this season. Marisnick currently has 10 homers and 24 stolen bases in Triple-A. That’s the best-case scenario for fantasy owners: double-digit homers and 20-plus stolen bases. Some question marks surround the hit tool, so the usability of the power and the batting average will be question marks. If you’re a fantasy owner who adores power/speed guys and isn’t risk-averse, Marisnick just became much more attractive.
The former no. 6 overall draft pick of the 2013 Draft might be switching organizations, but the overall projection remains too far away to really change his fantasy outlook. In fact, if anything, it becomes murkier because the Astros’ system is exceedingly deep and could present some roadblocks in terms of playing time. All that is too far away to worry about, though. If you’re a dynasty owner who liked Moran prior to this trade, you should still like him just as much. He’s in High-A and too much can change in terms of roster construction to get overly worked up. —J.P. Breen
Zachary Levine is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @zacharylevine