Jose Fernandez could set the free-agent pitching market

By now, it’s become quite apparent that the Miami Marlins fall somewhere between a circus and a dumpster fire. Jose Fernandez may or may not be available depending on the whims of owner Jeffrey Loria. As of right now, we’re told the 23-year-old right-hander is not available. That could change daily. After undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing most of the 2014 season, the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year roared back with six wins in seven decisions, a 2.92 ERA, and 11.0 strikeouts per nine across 64.2 innings. Hernandez was great, but there is plenty of ugliness surrounding the pitcher, his teammates, and the Marlins in general.

In a separate report, team sources told Slater that Fernandez has a tendency to be “selfish” at times and “talks to management like they are children.”

“There were times this season where, not all, but some players and coaches hoped Jose would go out on the mound and get shelled,” a player source reportedly told Slater. “We thought it would get him to be more humble.”

You obviously have to take some of what was written in Andy Slater’s report with a grain of salt. No one knows how much of this post is true, or if it was mostly clickbait. It’s unclear just how bad things actually are between Fernandez and management, but where there’s smoke, there is typically fire. Over the past few years there have been plenty of fires in the Miami front office and owner’s box, so there is likely something to the rumors.

If Fernandez is actually on the block, the entire free-agent market will be shaken up. Any team that is in on David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann, is instantly in on Fernandez. He’s four years away from free agency, and is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Fernandez will come at a fraction of the cost compared to the big four starters on the market over the remaining years he is under team control.

Fernandez would truly cost a fortune in prospects. At only 23 years old, he is already an elite pitcher. There is the elbow injury to fret over, but Fernandez was his usual dominant self in his 11 starts this year, and lowered his walk rate from 3.0 per nine his rookie year to 1.9 per nine in 2015. Character issues aside, Fernandez becomes the most attractive option on the market if he becomes available. His presence on the market could delay the signings of the other elite arms. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and Boston Red Sox all have the prospects in place to go out and get Fernandez while still holding onto enough money to stay in the hunt for another ace. Jose Fernandez being on the trading block could truly reshape the free-agent pitching market. The situation is nebulous at the moment, but will become more clear in the following weeks. The Marlins say he’s not available, but keep in mind that we are dealing with a team that told Jose Reyes to go ahead and buy a house before trading him in short order. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility when it comes to the Miami Marlins and Jose Fernandez.

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