The Miami Marlins are dumb and bad.
This preview piece was slated to run Thursday morning, but, upon news of the Dee Gordon trade, was held back a day in order to be updated. Then, the Marlins went ahead and pulled off the Mat Latos trade, further ruining the good work of the handsome author, who is the protagonist in this story.
In the end, it’s worth it, though. Because what we’re left with is a Marlins team that’s much more interesting than it was 48 hours ago, and a team that has a surprising amount of fantasy star power.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF
Yeah, he’s pretty good. If you own him in leagues that take real salaries into account it’s a bit more complicated, but in straight-up redraft leagues, he’s a first-round pick, and he’s close to untouchable in keeper and dynasty formats. He’s got a great shot at 40 bombs if he stays healthy, and he’s one of the game’s few unicorns.
Christian Yelich, OF
Is it a bit early to put Yelich in the “studs” category? Maybe. But Yelich was lauded for his hit tool as a prospect, and the 23-year-old has hit .285/.365/.400 through his first 933 MLB plate appearances. There isn’t huge power here, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Yelich reach double-digit bombs after hitting nine last season. Add in 20-plus steals and the potential for 100-plus runs scored, and he’s a potential OF2.
Steve Cishek, RP
Cishek very well could be the most underrated closer in the game. He’s emerged from relative anonymity to not just hold down the job for Miami, but to thrive in it, posting explosive K/9 rates and generally keeping his ERA below 3.00. While the latter metric saw an uptick last year, FIP says he should’ve been a full run lower and he’s pitching in a great ballpark. Flashier names will get drafted first, and there’s always a chance he’s traded, but I’m going hot and heavy on Cishek this year.
Mat Latos, SP
Yes, there are some reasons to be cautious with Latos, from his declining strikeout rate to his drop in velocity to his spotty healthy. If you’re not into risks, you’re not going to be into Latos. But moving from Cincinnati to Miami is terrific for Latos’ fantasy value, and if he stays on the mound he has all the makings of a great no. 2 fantasy SP. Latos isn’t going to strike out a batter per inning anymore, but he can easy fan 180-plus hitters if he logs 200 innings. Add in an ERA that’s a near lock to be below 3.50 and could be below 3.00 in a pitcher-friendly park, a sub-1.20 WHIP, and a chance for a solid W total on a decent team, and the stars are aligning for Latos to produce in his contract year.
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
This placement probably seems harsh after a season in which Hechavarria hit .276/.308/.356, but that’s pretty close to his max upside, and you’ll have to pay for a meager performance that’s probably not repeatable if you draft him this year. Hechavarria doesn’t really run and doesn’t hit for power, so you’re banking on an empty average and 50-plus runs to get any value here. If you want to put him in “NL-Only” instead of “duds,” fine, but the package here isn’t enticing.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Salty saw massive regression across the board in 2014, which pretty much everybody other than the Marlins saw coming. He’s got useful power but he’s probably not going to challenge for 20 homers again playing in Miami, and the .220 average and .320 OBP he posted in 2014 are more indicative of his true talent than the .273 and .338 marks he put up in 2013. He’s only a borderline top-20 catching option.
What You See Is What You Get
Marcell Ozuna, OF
Ozuna’s success continues to surprise me, not because he lacks natural tools but because it’s incredibly hard to thrive in the majors with such limited experience in the upper minors. Ozuna’s doing it, though, and while we all knew he had 20-plus power I don’t think anyone expected him to reach that plateau in 2014. It’s a shame that speed isn’t part of his game, but expect 20 homers and an average in the .260-275 range, with healthy R and RBI totals. He finished as the 35th-best outfielder in 2014, per ESPN, and he’s a very respectable OF4.
Henderson Alvarez, SP
There’s some fluctuation around the edges when it comes to ERA and WHIP, yes, but overall we know what to expect from Alvarez; few strikeouts, a ton of groundballs, and occasionally dazzling performances. Henderson finished as the 44th-best starter in standard 5×5 leagues last season, and while we shouldn’t expect him to repeat, he’s fully capable of posting an ERA around 3.00, 140-plus strikeouts and double-digit wins. He’s a bigger asset in real life than for our purposes, and injuries are always a potential issue..
Nathan Eovaldi, SP
This probably isn’t a great spot for Eovaldi, but he’s not good enough to be a stud, not bad enough to be a dud and not exciting enough to be an x-factor. We know he’ll probably strikeout about 150 batters if he throws 200 IP, and we know his WHIP will probably be around 1.30. What we don’t know is whether his walk rates will let his ERA fall closer to his 2013 mark of 3.39 or if we’re in store for another 4.00-plus season. He’s draftable in 14-16-team leagues, but he’s a streamer in shallower leagues.
Tom Koehler, SP
Koehler finished as the 91st-best fantasy starter last season, posting a sub-4.00 ERA and striking out 153 batters in 191 1/3 innings. It was a career year for the 27-year-old, who threw his slider more and curveball less than in previous years to positive effect. 2014 probably represents Koehler’s ceiling, which is why he finds himself down here, and he’s a candidate to be bumped from the rotation once Fernandez returns. He’s probably going to be cheap, though, and he has a solid chance of producing well for where he’s likely to be drafted in deep leagues.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Gordon finished as fantasy’s second-most valuable second baseman in 2014, nabbing 64 stolen bases and scoring 92 runs with a very respectable .289 average. The speed is real, and when Gordon gets on base, he’s going to run. Yet if you look at Gordon’s second half OBP, it’s clear that getting on base could be more of an issue moving forward than it was last year. Gordon has absolutely no pop in his bat, and while there’s natural bat-to-ball ability here it’s easy for pitchers to challenge him. Could Gordon finish as a top-10 second baseman again? Sure. But I’m hard pressed to see him match his 2014 output, and, just like Andrew Friedman, you should consider selling high.
Jose Fernandez, SP
Fernandez had Tommy John surgery in May, so he’s quite the long shot to throw ever 20 starts in 2015. Monitor his recovery and be ready to pounce if you see him on the waiver wire a few weeks out of his first projected start, but he’s probably not worth drafting in shallow leagues. Even a minor setback could cause the Marlins to simply shelf him, or at least hold him until after the All-Star break, and there’s no guarantee that his performance is as advertised right away. Obviously, he should be retained in keeper and dynasty leagues.
Casey McGehee, 1B/3B
I have no idea what to make of McGehee’s 2014 season. He rose from the dead to hit .287/.355/.357, finishing as the 15th-best third baseman from a fantasy POV, but hitting for little power and showcasing a surprising hit tool. McGehee posted a weird reverse platoon split and was much worse in the second half, and when you take into account how different his 2014 was from his last few years in the majors, it’s hard to see a repeat next season. I’d expect a much worse average and more power, and advise you to draft selectively and accordingly.
Jarred Cosart, SP
I’ve maintained that Cosart is probably a reliever for many, many years now, and while he proved me wrong in 2014 I’m not completely sold on him as a starter yet. Cosart posted a 15.0 percent strikeout rate and a 9.5 percent walk rate last season—hardly a recipe for success—and while he generates a lot of groundballs, that doesn’t help his fantasy value much. I think best-case scenario, we see something similar to Cosart in 2015 as we did last year, and he finished as just the 101st-ranked fantasy starter in the game. Add in the downside, and I’m staying away, and now’s a great time to sell high on him.
Dan Haren, SP
It’s going to be difficult for Haren to produce for your fantasy team if he retires. If he does play, though, he’ll produce some value. Thank you for your interest in Baseball Prospectus’ fantasy analysis.
Justin Nicolino, SP
Nicolino’s prospect value has fluctuated pretty wildly during his professional career, and there’s no doubt that he’s a better MLB prospect than a fantasy one. He’s not going to miss many bats, but Nicolino has very impressive command, has a legit changeup and is close to the majors after mastering Double-A in 2014. Bret Sayre compared him to Jason Vargas in the Marlins top-10, and that sounds about right to me.
Garrett Jones, 1B/OF
You can’t let him within 100 feet of a lefty, but Jones hit .246/.309/.411 with 15 homers in 547 PA last season, mostly coming against right-handed pitching. It’s not sexy, but you can work with that in super deep mixed or NL-only leagues and Jones is a safe bet to nab you 15-plus homers.
Derek Dietrich, INF
Donovan Solano, INF
This was a more interesting platoon possibility before the Gordon acquisition. I don’t see much fantasy relevance with Solano, but Dietrich can play a little and would be worth an add if Gordon or Hechavarria went down with an injury. Very exciting, I know.
Prospects for 2015
Jose Urena, P
Starter or reliever? Urena’s eventual role is still up in the air, but he’s close to the majors and the Marlins should give him every chance to stick in the rotation. With good stuff but a tendency to wear down late in games, he’s sort of the poor man’s Rubby De La Rosa, which likely doesn’t inspire much confidence.
J.T. Realmuto, C
Realmuto has the offensive upside needed to finish as a top-20 catcher a few times during his career. He won’t be of any use unless Saltalamacchia misses time, but he’s one of the NL’s better backup catchers. I don’t know; some leagues are too deep.
Adam Conley, P
Conley is most likely headed to the bullpen, especially after missing much of the 2014 season with elbow tendinitis. The Marlins could give him a longer leash in the rotation thanks to the Heaney trade, though, and he’d have some value in that capacity.