Envisioning a Trade for Jose Fernandez

Before I dive any deeper into such an exciting but unlikely subject, let me say that I do not expect the Yankees to trade for Jose Fernandez
As you've likely heard by now, the Yankees have been confirmed as interested in Marlins ace Jose Fernandez and are doing "background work on him" (via Jason stark). Not real sure what that means (maybe Fernandez is secretly a criminal mastermind) but what we do know is that the Yankees have interest.

Let me be clear: The Yankees have enough to acquire Fernandez at a fair price, the only question is whether or not they're willing to overpay (they shouldn't). The Marlins want 5-6 MLB ready players who can make an impact and the Yankees have the pieces to fit that description (via Jon Heyman). In this article, we will discuss each piece of a proposed six player package and why it would make sense to trade them.

Gary Sanchez 

At this point Gary Sanchez has to be considered an 'A' prospect again. I would have to imagine Sanchez would be the most attractive piece of this deal. The Marlins catcher Corp has been depleted ever since the Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal went bad and a catcher of Sanchez's stature has to hold a lot of allure to the Fish.

Sanchez has an outstanding year between AA-AAA hitting a solid .274 with 18 home runs and a .485 slugging percentage. Sanchez put an exclamation mark on such a solid year when he absolutely tore apart the Arizona Fall League hitting .295 with 14 extra base hits (7 home runs) in just 22 games. Pretty remarkable.

The Yankees have Brian McCann under contract until at least 2018 and whether that's a good or a bad thing the team might as well give him the catcher position while they're paying him that much. Sanchez will certainly be a good major league catcher, but he would be a valuable piece in a package in acquiring one of the top starters in the game who is only 23. For Fernandez, the Yankees could spare Sanchez as a trade chip, and doing so would go a long way in making a deal happen.

Greg Bird

This one might be a hard sell. A lot of Yankee fans have a strange infatuation with Greg Bird, but his brief stint in the majors and rather cheesy twitter life story have little bearing with me. Bird hit 11 home runs in 46 games in the majors, but that's about all he excelled at.

Still, that's what you would try and sell to the Marlins. Greg Bird didn't have an overwhelming break-in to the big leagues, but it still wasn't bad. First base is another position the Marlins have been deprived at the last few years with Logan Morrison never quite panning out and being shipped to the Mariners.

What's tricky here is that the Marlins now have Justin Bour currently manning first base and, like Bird, while his season wasn't star caliber, it was decent enough, as he hit 23 home runs and turned in a .262 average over 129 games. That's not too shabby, especially in a big park like Miami's.

Still, Bird has gained the reputation as a big time prospect and the idea would be that Bird has a higher ceiling than Bour. You can play the pace game and make the argument that at the rate Bird hit, he would've hit 30 homers in  129 games as opposed to Bour's. I still think that Bird would be quite a tantalizing piece for the Marlins to acquire in this sense. Doing so would allow the Marlins to maybe even move Bour for another piece they would like to add to their 2016 squad.

Contrary to popular belief, the Yankees moving Greg Bird would not be the end of the world and would be far from it. Moving Bird to the Marlins would give the them the top prospect and major league ready player they seek and you would still be able to hold onto more valuable chips such as Aaron Judge and Luis Severino.

After all, Bird's time in pinstripes might not have been anything more than a flash in the pan. Bird only hit 12 home runs in 83 minor league games this year - as a result his 11 homers in 49 big league games are more than a little suspect, but don't tell the Marlins that. You have to wonder how much the short porch helped his power numbers, in fact 7 of his 11 homers were pulled, strengthening the idea that it lent a hand in inflating his numbers.

Here's the thing though, Mark Teixeira is light years ahead of what Greg Bird is both offensively and defensively. And even if Bird is traded and Teixeira doesn't return after this season, there's an endless amount of options that could fill in at first base just fine until a long term option (Hosmer? Belt? Duda?) is found or becomes available. It would be hard to find a left handed hitting first baseman that wouldn't hit at least 20 home runs a year in Yankee Stadium. Trading Bird is the last of the Yankee worries, especially when you're bringing in a player like Fernandez.

Michael Pineda

This might surprise a few people, but another MLB ready piece the Yankees should offer that could have appeal to the Marlins is Michael Pineda. At 6'7 and 260 lbs., nobody is denying that Big Mike has a great amount of raw talent and has certainly shown flashes of that throughout his career. His struggle, however, has been harnessing that consistency and last year he struggled to do so.

Through the first half, Pineda was lights out, posting a 3.64 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 106.1 innings, but he came undone in the second half with an inflated 5.84 ERA and just 45 strikeouts in 54.1 innings pitched.

A lot of the problem was that Pineda was prone to the long ball, having surrendered 21 on the year. 15 of those came at home, so clearly the short porch in Yankee Stadium didn't do him any favors. A move to the spacious field in Miami should be an effective antidote to that problem.

One thing that Pineda does do well is limit walks allowed and as a power pitcher that's pretty important, especially in today's game. Pineda only allowed 21 walks in 160.2 innings good for an astounding 1.18 BB/9. Combined with his 8.74 K/9, we find Pineda is a strikeout pitcher that limits walks and is likely truly the pitcher we saw in the first half rather than the pitcher we saw in the second half.

This kind of pitcher should be a very attractive pick up to the Marlins and would be a fine replacement for the loss of Jose Fernandez. As previously mentioned, when you place a low walk, high strikeout guy in Marlins Park, the results could be lights out and Pineda would surely have a ceiling of ace pitcher and a floor of a solid number two starter.

In any other circumstance it may be hard for the Yankees to part with such a pitcher, but when you bring in one of the best like Fernandez, that loss is instantly forgotten. Simply put, Pineda should be a very attractive MLB ready piece for the Marlins.

Brett Gardner + $15 million

It's no secret that Brett Gardner would be available for the right price and this would be that very price. The Marlins haven't exactly been subtle in their desire to trade incumbent outfielder Marcell Ozuna and a trade for a solid leadoff hitter of Gardner's caliber would allow them to do so comfortably.

Gardner had a brutal second half, but overall still had a very solid year. Gardner did a nice job getting on base and posted an OBP of .343 which was good for 28th in the American League and was better than players like Robinson Cano, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre. Coupled with his speed, Gardner would bring a good leadoff hitting dynamic to the Marlins lineup and ahead of a player like Giancarlo Stanton, this could make for a more potent lineup in Miami.

Gardner also brings outstanding outfield defense and a bit of a power dynamic (16 home runs last year) and as a result is a very versatile and useful player, a lot like Carl Crawford in his prime. Thus, the Marlins should be excited to acquire yet another MLB ready player, one who could really bring a lot of abilities to their lineup.

Gardner wouldn't be the end of the world to lose. The team has quite a bit of outfield depth as highlighted here and we have super prospect Aaron Judge only a year away. The team would be smart to pay $15 million of the remaining $37.5 million left on his contract to even further the appeal for the Marlins. Acquiring a player of Gardner's caliber for just $22.5 million over three years? That's a steal in today's market.

Jorge Mateo 

Jorge Mateo really made his name known to Yankees fans this year when he turned in a campaign in which he batter .278 with a whopping 82 stolen bases. That said, you should understand that Mateo is certainly an on base speedster type, much like Marlin second baseman Dee Gordon.

Speaking of Gordon, you're probably wondering where Mateo would play considering the Marlins already have he and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria covering both second and shortstop - the positions that Mateo is projected to end up at. Dee Gordon had an absolutely outstanding year, but  Hechavarria was more or less and average and Mateo figures to have the higher ceiling. Additionally, both Hechavarria and Gordon are projected to be free agents in 2019, about when Mateo would likely be big league ready, which would give the Marlins some very talented insurance if they were to lose either.

The Yankees currently have Didi Gregrorius and Rob Refsnyder set to handle to the middle infield positions for the time being and neither will be free agents until at least 2020 and Mateo figures to be ready before then. This doesn't exactly fit the bill of the MLB ready talent that the Marlins are looking for, but Mateo would certainly be an attractive option for them to pick up and store for when their middle infielders hit the market. The Yankees have their middle infield set for a while between Didi and Refsnyder and likely wouldn't be too hurt by giving the speedster up for Fernandez.

Bryan Mitchell 

Bryan Mitchell is an interesting addition from the standpoint of it being very difficult to quantify what he brings to the table through basic statistics. In 20 games for the Yankees this year, Mitchell posted a rather ugly 6.37 ERA, but peripherally, his 8.80 K/9 looks very good.

Mitchell has power stuff that allows him to get these strikeouts as evidenced by an average fastball velocity of 96.0 MPH, with his max sitting at a hot 99.0 MPH. What hurts Mitchell, is that that he hasn't had the chance to develop command of such raw stuff at the big league level.

 I'm doubtful that chance is going to come with the Yankees. The team has quite a logjam of starters, albeit mostly unspectacular ones, but plenty nonetheless. It's simply hard to envision Mitchell getting a rotation spot over guys like Tanaka, Sabathia, Severino, Nova, Eoavldi, Pineda, and Warren.

He could get this chance in Miami, however. The Marlins recently chose to non tender Henderson Alvarez and by trading Fernandez, they would have two rotation holes. We already mentioned how Pineda could nicely fill one of those holes and I feel Mitchell could fill the other as well. Marlins Park is forgiving to pitchers and would be a great place to give Mitchell consistent big league exposure and allow him to get a better feel and command of his stuff. In the National League and in that ballpark, Mitchell cold really develop into a nasty pitcher and I think the Marlins would have to give strong consideration to that.

As mentioned earlier, it would be nice to give Mitchell a rotation spot and see what happens, but with so many starters already in line for the job, it's hard to imagine that being a possibility. The team might as well trade him if they can't use him, instead of letting his talent go to waste.

The Wrap

In the end, the trade would look like this:

NYY Gets: Jose Fernandez
MIA Gets: Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Michael Pineda, Brett Gardner, Jorge Mateo, and Bryan Mitchell

On the surface, it appears that New York is giving up a lot, but the truth is this much might not even get a deal done. I think this trade is perfectly fair: For the most part the Marlins are getting young, MLB ready guys, and quite a few at that - and that's their asking price. If you put yourself in he Marlins' shoes, you would have a very difficult time saying no to acquiring a young core that's ready to make an impact like that.

However, the Marlins will certainly try and get a team to pay more, though this is a fair deal. What hurts the Yankees here, is there are teams out there with the prospect depth to overpay and this is something the Yankees just can't do.

You'll notice that I left Luis Severino and Aaron Judge off the list. That was for a reason. I'm no prospect hugger by any stretch of the imagination, but I think you have to put the 'untouchable' label on those guys. Luis Severino broke into the big leagues with no issue last year and the Yankees need a young, talented, and controllable pitcher like that (hopefully next to Fernandez) for years to come. Judge has drawn Giancarlo Stanton comparisons and his time in the minor leagues have only legitimized them. Carlos Beltran won't be on the team next year and with the team's reluctance to sign free agents the best option to fill in would be Judge, who will likely be big league ready next year.

One option that could make sense would be to add Andrew Miller to the deal, but I would like to stay away from that. Miller was outstanding as a closer in his first season as a Yankee, but what makes my desire to retain him so strong is the fact that Dellin Betances proved to be incredibly shaky and control challenged down the stretch. If Miller was the difference between "deal" or "no deal" I think you would have to consider it at least. I just don't know how much value Miller would have to the Marlins in the first place. The Marlins have to be in a position where they could take advantage of a closer like him 30-40ish times a year and the way the their roster currently sits, I'm not sure that's the case. With the other guys the Yankees would send over, that might change.

If the Marlins insisted on Miller in addition to this proposed deal, I would ask for Marcell Ozuna to be added on their side. That's fair, right? The Marlins want to move him and getting Andrew Miller added to the package for him could be a major score. The Yankees would get a replacement for Brett Gardner - one with a lot of talent. Ozuna has drawn Yoenis Cespedes comparisons.

I'm very doubtful that the Yankees will acquire Fernandez. I just think another team will overpay and the Yankees will be reluctant to do so, as they should be. I have no doubt that this is an otherwise fair deal. The Marlins get what they ask for and the Yankees don't relinquish any asset they absolutely need. Keep expectations tempered, but if a trade were to somehow happen, expect it to look like this.
Additional Perspectives - Here are a few other perspectives on a Jose Fernandez trade by fellow writers here at BBB

Matt Cote (@MCote31)

Matt suggests the Yankees remove Michael Pineda and add Andrew Miller in a deal that looks like this:

NYY Gets: Jose Fernandez, Mike Dunn
MIA Gets: Andrew Miller, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Jorge Mateo, Bryan Mitchell

Chad Raines (@chad_rain)

Chad suggests with Miami seeking an overpay, the Yankees might be better simply monitoring the Fernandez market while focusing efforts for starting pitching elsewhere.

"Obviously Fernandez is an unbelievable talent with his electric arm and his youth. Because of that, he's probably one of the most expensive guys on the trade market this offseason so I think there are cheaper guys the Yankees could target but if they were to get Fernandez I'd be ecstatic. With that said, I still think it's unlikely."

Article by: Nick Scott
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All statistics provided via Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, and MLB.com
All photos provided via MLB.com & MILB.com


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