The Marlins Are The Collusion by Brad Johnson March 9, 2018 Over on Twitter.com, Phillies prospect guy Matt Winkleman had an interesting thought. Behold. You know what is really funny in a way. Given the way the offseason has gone, everything would have started falling the Marlins way if they wanted to contend — Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) March 9, 2018 Indeed, the Marlins could have had a very fun offseason. Jeets would be feted as the savior of Miami. If team failed to get off the ground, he could have sold all the same assets at a mid-season mark up. By now, you may notice this isn’t about fantasy baseball. Strictly speaking, it’s a fantasy about baseball. Kinda adjacent, right? Sure. Recall the Marlins trades: 1. Dee Gordon to Seattle for three guys 2. Giancarlo Stanton and cash to New York for Starlin Castro and somehow-not-Clint Frazier 3. Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis for Magneuris Sierra, Sandy Alcantara, and two more guys 4. Christian Yelich to Milwaukee for actual prospects – namely Lewis Brinson and Isan Diaz The series of swaps deprived the Marlins of their four best hitters – they’re fine fielders too – and roughly 17 projected wins above replacement level. Upside for over 20 wins. A team of scrubs plus healthy seasons from those four athletes is basically a 70 win campaign. Kinda like what happened in 2017. There are a lot of ways to add another 15 to 20 wins with the remaining 21 players, the sum of which is colloquially referred to as a “Wild Card contender.” Presumably, the Marlins didn’t consider adding to this roster because Derek Jeter and friends heavily leveraged their bid to buy the club. Cutting costs was always Plan A. Yet, if they had known how far some of these free agent markets would crater, might they have pursued a different plan? Is it possible to sell tickets to a Marlins game? We could stop here. It didn’t happen. They had a fire. Sale. Also, by selling, they changed market conditions. To wit: 1. The Mariners didn’t need a center field capable outfielder like Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson, or Keon Broxton (it is Dipoto…) 2. The Yankees had very little cap room with which to work. No Yu Darvish. No J.D. Martinez. 3. The Cardinals are a tad more fiscally and outfielderly constrained. They spent their most expendable prospects. 4. The Brewers maybe still buy Cain. Or maybe they go for Darvish, Jake Arrieta, or another addition. Or stick with their rebuild. Fantasy owners don’t have to deal with their weird outfield/first base rotation. They look less contendable. I point this out because it’s easy to say the Marlins could have gotten Mike Moustakas, a couple solid relievers (oh, hello Addison Reed and Tony Watson), and a starter. In reality, their deal making had a stark effect on supply and demand. Consider the Yankees. I assume they’d still eagerly dump Chase Headley. Probably to sign Todd Frazier thus thrusting Moustakas into the waiting bosom of the Mets. Or maybe it’s Neil Walker who wins in this scenario. We can’t assume Moustakas is there for the Fish. The Royals are indifferent about all of this. In this scenario, New York also could have money to squeeze in Darvish. Or at least scare the Red Sox into paying more for Martinez. Arrieta reunites with the Cubs. The Cardinals maybe have a little bit more money to sign relievers. Trade Sierra for Alex Colome, keep Stephen Piscotty, sign Reed or Watson or pony up for Greg Holland. Roster winds up similarly competent in a slightly different way. The Twins don’t sign Reed. They instead sign Alex Cobb after Ervin Santana’s injury. They still trade for Jake Odorizzi too. I guess the Mariners find money for Cain. Which means the Brewers are left starring at Lance Lynn or Cobb. They have bullets like Brinson, Diaz , and cash money available for future additions. Once we sort through the trickle down, we find the Marlins signing players like Walker and Trevor Cahill (Is he dead? Why is he a free agent?) in this wait-out-the-market scenario. This is starting to feel like they’ll get stranded under 81 wins again. Perhaps, even knowing what we know about the slow market, they were right to tear it down as rapidly as they did. Did you notice what happens if they had kept all their players? Martinez signs for more with Boston, probably in early January as pressure from the Yankees forces them to make a blocking move. The pitching market remains clogged until late-January when the Yankees finally dive on Darvish. They skim just under the tax threshold with Frazier. Moustakas signs yesterday with the Mets, possibly for a few more dollars. The remaining three notable pitchers find a home shortly after Darvish. They get less than they wanted, but they aren’t left holding one-year offers. Walker gets a major league contract somewhere. Holland may be on a roster. Although a slow offseason – the Dodgers, Giants, and Tigers are still basically completely uninvolved while other big spenders like the Phillies and White Sox are still reading about The Tipping Point – this hypothetical looks a LOT more like recent offseasons. I think, probably, the worst of the offseason “collusion” can be traced back to the Marlins flooding the market with cheap, premium talent.