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July 1, 2013

Painting the Black

The Marlins Who May Be Moving

by R.J. Anderson

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The Marlins are next up in the series. Neither Giancarlo Stanton nor Steve Cishek were included because Miami has little incentive to move either of them at this point.

The Assets

(Listed in descending order of expected impact)

Ricky Nolasco

Position: SP

Age as of Deadline: 30

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $5.75 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 17 GS, 105.1 IP, 3.93 ERA, 3.32 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 15 GS, 90 IP, 3.76 ERA, 4.24 SO/BB

Ideal Role: No. 4 starter

A new Nolasco rumor pops up every few hours for good reason: he's going to get dealt soon. The Marlins have no reason to hold onto him longer than they have to, and he fits better on a contender—where he can pitch toward the back of the rotation instead of the front. Whichever team hooks Nolasco will get a right-hander with a deep arsenal and strike-throwing tendencies. Although Nolasco's fastball is fine, even if it tops out in the low 90s, he has the tendency to fall in love with his assortment of secondary offerings (including a splitter, curve, and slider). To wit: In a recent start against the Cardinals he threw 21 pitches over two innings, just six of those carrying heat.

It may feel weird to describe Nolasco as a pitcher with some upside given the above paragraph. Yet his issues with consistency and composure may improve in the right environment under the right tutelage. That's not to say Nolasco will improve enough to become a top-of-the-rotation force. Just that he could pitch better than his recent history suggests.

Justin Ruggiano

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 31

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $0.248 million

Contract Status: Three years of team control remaining

Stats: 245 PA, .233/.299/.417

PECOTA Projection: 242 PA, .255/.316/.417

Ideal Role: Fourth outfielder

Miami acquired Ruggiano in a small trade last season, and then saw him perform well over the remainder of the campaign. He's failed to live up to those standards in 2013; however, he remains an athletic, versatile outfielder with solid pop and a minimal platoon split. The problem with Ruggiano is how exploitable he is at the plate. He gained the reputation as a bad-ball hitter in the minors, and he's become a fastball hitter in the majors, complete with the tendency to swing over anything soft or spinning. Even though Ruggiano has years of team control remaining, the Marlins could move him due to his age and their internal outfield depth. He'd slot in nicely on a number of contenders' benches.

Mike Dunn

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 28

Bats/Throws: L/L

Half of Salary: $0.247 million

Contract Status: Three years of team control remaining

Stats: 40 G, 35 IP, 2.83 ERA, 1.83 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 32 IP, 4.03 ERA, 1.94 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Middle reliever

Dunn is a smallish southpaw who began his pro career as an outfielder. He couldn't hit so he moved to the mound, where he throws the ball hard and complements his velocity with a slider and, against righties, a curveball. Dunn has pitched better against lefties than righties, though not to the degree where he's a standout left-handed specialist. Lefties are always in demand at the deadline.

Chad Qualls

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 34

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $0.504 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 31 G, 30.1 IP, 2.97 ERA, 3.14 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 32 IP, 3.72 ERA, 3.49 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Middle reliever

While their in-state counterparts receive more credit for fixing veteran relievers, the Marlins have pulled the feat a few times themselves. For a while it seemed like Miami worked its magic on pairs, be it Clay Hensley and Brian Sanches in 2010, Kiko Calero and Dan Meyer in 2009, Doug Waechter and Joe Nelson in 2008, or Lee Gardner and Kevin Gregg in 2007. Qualls is the latest example of a veteran reliever finding success in relative obscurity.

Qualls' fastball routinely registers in the mid-90s, and his uptick in strikeouts stems in part from how he's deployed his heat. Whereas in the recent past Qualls would get to two strikes then stay down in the zone with his slider or sinker, nowadays he's willing to challenge batters up with velocity. It's a small, effective tweak that should continue to work provided his fastball maintains its juice. Qualls has also changed his mechanics a bit, altering his glove placement along with shortening his back-side arm action.

Ryan Webb

Position: RP

Age as of Deadline: 27

Bats/Throws: R/R

Half of Salary: $0.488 million

Contract Status: Two years of team control remaining

Stats: 33 G, 36.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.29 SO/BB

PECOTA Projection: 34 IP, 4.26 ERA, 2.09 SO/BB

Ideal Role: Middle reliever

Webb occupies the sweet spot between being good enough to draw trade interest, and not good enough for the Marlins to keep him around as his salary increases through arbitration. The big right-hander, acquired in the Cameron Maybin trade, gets groundballs with his power sinker. Historically he's pitched better against righties than lefties, which could lead to a future as a situational reliever. One other thing to note about Webb is how right-handed batters have found it difficult to lift his pitches, registering just 18 extra-base hits against him since 2011.

Juan Pierre

Position: OF

Age as of Deadline: 35

Bats/Throws: L/L

Half of Salary: $0.8 million

Contract Status: Free agent at season's end

Stats: 278 PA, .242/.288/.298

PECOTA Projection: 204 PA, .275/.317/.329

Ideal Role: Pinch runner

Pierre is more of an August trade target than a July one. Still, he merits mention because of his speed. In the past Pierre earned a reputation as a volume basestealer, one unconcerned with poor success rates. Over the last two seasons he's become a part-time player and, in turn, turned into an efficient thief, by swiping 55 bases at an 81 percent clip. Add in Pierre's baserunning chops during the run of play and he makes sense as a designated pinch-runner during the postseason.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

Related Content:  Florida Marlins,  Trade Deadline

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