The Miami Marlins have exceeded expectations so far in 2023. However, to sustain this (and to better position themselves for perennial postseason contention), they’ll likely need to acquire help from outside the organization. Leading up to the August 1 MLB trade deadline, Fish On First will profile potentially attainable players who would fit with what the Fish are building.
C Iván Herrera (St. Louis Cardinals)
Iván Herrera was signed by the Cardinals on July 7, 2016. Since then, Herrera has been a consistent player in the Cardinals minor league system and was even considered the successor to the legendary Yadier Molina. The Panamanian made his major league debut in the 2022 season, but only played in 11 games and didn’t produce during that small sample.
This season for Triple-A Memphis, Herrera is slashing .297/.424/.545/.969 (144 wRC+) with seven home runs and 35 RBIs. The similarities between his walk rate (17.2%) and strikeout rate (20.2%) are evidence of his good plate approach. Herrera is slashing .299/.397/.537/.934 with five home runs and 23 RBIs against right-handed pitching. Against lefties, he is slashing .296/.484/.568/1.052 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. There’s nothing else for him to learn in the minors when it comes to hitting.
As intriguing as the 23-year-old is, there is a true risk in acquiring somebody who has barely any major league track record. It’s never been more difficult to predict how AAA numbers will translate to the highest level. Also worth noting, both MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs describe Herrera’s defense as fringy/below-average.
With only 29 days of MLB service time, Herrera would be under club control through at least 2029.
This past offseason, the Cardinals signed longtime Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year deal which blocks Herrera from being their primary guy behind the plate. Contreras’ backup, Andrew Knizner, is under control through 2025. For the right price, Herrera should be available.
Herrera is in his third and final minor league option year. If the Cardinals hold onto him until the offseason, they will lose leverage as other teams know he’ll need to be on the 2024 Opening Day roster.
The Cardinals are one of baseball’s biggest disappointments this season, currently standing at 27-42. Even with no elite rivals in the National League Central division, it’s becoming harder and harder to believe that they’ll be in the playoff mix. A franchise with such high expectations could be very active at the deadline to make the necessary adjustments to contend next year.
Roster Fit & Trade Considerations
Currently, the Marlins have the duo of Jacob Stallings and Nick Fortes at the backstop position. Stallings is hitting far below .200 with mediocre defense at best, making him an obvious DFA candidate. Despite hitting the ball better in the recent weeks, Fortes isn’t performing at the level of a true everyday catcher, so the Marlins should be willing to make a significant investment to acquire somebody to split time with him for the rest of 2023 and beyond. Herrera could be recalled right away, or the Marlins could wait until rosters expand in September if they prefer not to cut Stallings.
The Cardinals’ main focus is addressing their big league rotation. However, Miami doesn’t necessarily have the depth to trade from that part of their roster right now without greatly hurting their playoff chances. A top prospect like left-hander Dax Fulton would’ve made a lot of sense for this trade scenario if he was healthy and progressing normally, but that’s not the case unfortunately.
The last time that the Marlins and Cardinals completed a consequential trade with each other was the Sandy Alcantara/Zac Gallen/Marcell Ozuna blockbuster in December 2017.
Featured image courtesy of herrera.ivan01/Instagram