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.
For the second year in a row, perennial All-Star Juan Soto could be dealt at the deadline. Soto fetched maybe the largest package of prospects and young players we’ve ever seen on last year’s deadline day, which helped kickstart the Nationals’ rebuild. The San Diego Padres entered 2023 thinking they had assembled a superteam around him, but shockingly, they’ll enter the deadline with a losing record and playoff odds far below 50%. With less than a year-and-a-half left of control remaining over Soto, they’re in a tough spot.
Any team that’s in win-now mode would want somebody like Soto, already well-established as an elite offensive player at just 24 years old. He would turn the vast majority of postseason contenders into World Series contenders, the Marlins included. Their outfield has specifically struggled with drawing walks, as their 4.7 BB% since the All-Star Break ranks dead last in the league. Enter Juan Soto, one of the greatest players at drawing walks in our generation. He’s put up an incredible 21.1 BB% for San Diego in 2023 and would instantly help get the Marlins get on base at a higher rate.
The possibility of Miami actually being able to acquire Soto, though? That needs to be explored.
It’s no secret how far the Marlins farm system has fallen off. MLB Pipeline had the system ranked third in the league as recently as midseason 2021. But with the graduation of Eury Pérez, numerous pitching injuries, poor hitting development and this week’s David Robertson trade, it’s now firmly below average in terms of upside and depth. The system has no consensus Top 100 prospects at the moment.
Just as a starting point, it’s going to take multiple top-five Marlins prospects to acquire Soto’s services from San Diego. San Diego has a slight pitching problem in their farm, which benefits Miami. Enter Max Meyer and Jake Eder, both of whom could realistically be on Opening Day rosters in 2024, with Meyer having already made his Major League debut. Eder is viewed by some around baseball as Miami’s most valuable trade piece this deadline.
This package, however, wouldn’t even be headlined by those two. San Diego would want a young, controllable position player to fill the void getting rid of Soto will cause. While Miami has been said to be reluctant to subtract from its 26-man roster this deadline, we did just see them trade Dylan Floro this week. It’s not impossible, especially for the right deal. Juan Soto is that deal. There are three players San Diego would be looking at to headline this deal: Jazz Chisholm Jr., Bryan De La Cruz, and Jesús Sánchez. Each comes with their risks, as Jazz seemingly can’t stay healthy, De La Cruz has been a terrible defender this year, and Sánchez is streaky at the plate and unreliable against left-handed pitching.
Talking to some industry sources, it seems that Sánchez would be the most viable option for Miami to trade in this particular deal. Sánchez still has tons of team control, as he isn’t even arbitration eligible until 2025. We’ve seen Sánchez’s immense raw power on display—his average home run distance this season is 418 feet, which is exactly the same as Soto’s.
As for the other two names mentioned, I’m under the belief that Miami wouldn’t trade either of those two. Capitalizing on De La Cruz’s peak value wouldn’t be a bad idea this offseason, but he has to stay in the lineup this season if Miami wants to make the postseason. Jazz is a little more interesting. He’s arbitration-eligible in 2024 and his name alone in a trade would send shockwaves through baseball. But he can’t stay healthy and hasn’t done much to earn an extension from the Marlins thus far. From a business perspective, it makes sense to try and see what his value is in a massive deal like this. However, that leaves Miami with a void in center field.
A fully healthy outfield of De La Cruz, Chisholm Jr., and Soto could be amongst the best in baseball. I firmly believe Soto makes Miami at least a pennant contender with him on the team. It’s if and how Miami can acquire him. Craig Mish of SportsGrid has publicly stated that Miami would do everything they can to get Soto if he’s made available. My fear is the Marlins may get outbid by a team with a better farm system that has more to offer. I could see the Orioles, Reds, or Rays making a realistic run at him.
For those upset that I have suggested the Marlins sacrifice their few assets in this scenario, you must remember Juan Soto is one of the best players in the entire league at 24 years old. Twenty. Four. Jesus Sánchez, Bryan De La Cruz, and Jazz Chisholm Jr. are all older than him. So is Jake Eder! It’s a no-brainer. There’s no one quite like Soto right now when it comes to position players. The only reason his hypothetical price tag isn’t as exorbitant as it was last deadline is due to his looming free agency—the total value of his next contract is expected to land north of half a billion dollars.
Despite this, and to answer the question in the headline, I’d say it’s not totally unrealistic to think Soto could come to Miami in the coming days. If he’s made available, the Marlins are going to make an aggressive run at him. General Manager Kim Ng has had the Marlins in on almost every name so far. The team would be all over Soto.
However, it’s unclear if they’d be able to meet the high price that’s attached to Soto. My fear of getting outbid by another team looking to bolster its offense also could become a reality. Regardless, the possibility exists that Miami makes the biggest splash of them all this deadline to prepare for a run at the franchise’s third World Series title.
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