While there is most likely a less than ten percent chance Jose Fernandez is actually moved by the Miami Marlins, stranger things have happened in baseball. With Jeffrey Loria involved, there is really no surefire way of predicting whether Fernandez is actually untouchable. While it is a longshot that the Marlins trade their ace, the rest of the league should be taking a long, hard look at their farm system and trying to determine if they have the pieces in place to go out and get a top-ten pitcher in the league.
Fernandez would be an earth-shattering acquisition for most teams, even the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers already have the best pitcher in the league in Clayton Kershaw. They also should be viewed as the leaders to retain Zack Greinke, who posted the lowest ERA by a starting pitcher since 1995. Beyond those two All-Stars, the Dodgers rotation gets dicey. Brett Anderson took his qualifying offer, and Alex Wood is back as well. The fifth spot is up for grabs, and it’s still unknown how Hyun-jin Ryu will fare as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
The Dodgers have an unlimited budget, but that might not help them much, especially if David Price wants to return to Toronto or if Jordan Zimmermann is wooed by the San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, or Boston Red Sox. Assuming Greinke re-signs with the Dodgers, the team still has a great deal of uncertainty regarding the back end of its rotation. Armed with a top-five farm system, the Dodgers have the prospects in place to blow the Marlins away with a trade offer.
The only player in the Dodgers organization who should be viewed as untouchable is Corey Seager. Seager was truly impressive after his September debut, and should easily lock down the starting shortstop job next season. Joc Pederson may be viewed as untouchable by some, but saying he struggled in the second half of his rookie season would be putting it kindly. Yasiel Puig, who has fallen totally out of favor with clubhouse leaders like Kershaw and Greinke, should be on the block. If the Dodgers are not thinking about getting out of the Puig business while they can, they are making a mistake. Beyond Pederson and Puig, the Dodgers could offer precocious left-hander Julio Urias, who reached Triple-A at the age of 19 in 2015, Jose De Leon, Grant Holmes, Jose Peraza, or Alex Verdugo, all elite prospects. Peraza could be viewed as untouchable, as the Dodgers should look to form an elite, long-term pairing with Seager manning short and Peraza manning second.
A deal for Fernandez will have to include at least one MLB-ready player. The Dodgers would have to include Puig or Pederson. Puig would be more likely to be included. Toss in Verdugo, another outfielder, because the Marlins will likely trade Marcell Ozuna before Opening Day. That makes two potentially elite outfielders going to the Marlins. From there, Los Angeles would likely have to include two elite pitching prospects. If you’re the Dodgers, you would love to find a way to hold onto Urias and get the Marlins to take De Leon and Holmes. Not many teams can offer a better package than Puig, Verdugo, De Leon, and Holmes. The only thing that could hold a deal back is the fact that the Dodgers do not have a young, established starter in the big leagues to trade. Still, the potential in the system should be enough to make the Marlins drool.
The starting pitchers going to the Marlins in a potential trade become somewhat expendable for the Dodgers because with Kershaw, Greinke, and Fernandez locked up, the rotation will not have many openings going forward. The Dodgers also have recent first-round pick Chris Anderson in their system. Walker Buehler had Tommy John surgery shortly after being drafted in the first round, but the Vanderbilt product is another pitcher with a bright future. What the Dodgers have on their hands is an embarrassment of riches, both in prospects and in raw capital. It’s really not fair to the rest of the league that the Dodgers have so many disposable prospects.
It’s far from likely that Fernandez actually gets traded, but if the Dodgers want him, they should be considered the leaders to pull off a deal and land another elite arm. Kershaw, Greinke, and Fernandez together in the same rotation would rival, and likely exceed, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. The price will be high, but the Dodgers can make it happen.