The Marlins are effectively throwing in the towel on the season, trading second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers for three prospects.
"The team is really not in contention and is in a tenuous spot at best," said Larry Beinfest, Marlins president of baseball operations, in announcing the deal. "And I think it was time to restructure. We're not winning at the level that we want to be winning at with the current group, so let's change things up."
The Marlins obtained three prospects, foremost among them being right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner, whom Baseball America ranked as the 22nd-best overall prospect before the season. Turner has made three starts for the Tigers this season but will start out for the Marlins at Triple A New Orleans. Also obtained in the deal were minor-league catcher Rob Brantly and minor-league left-hander Brian Flynn. Brantly is a left-handed hitting catcher while Flynn stands 6-feet-8.
Turner was the 9th overall pick in the 2009 draft.
"Our intention is not for him to be a Triple A pitcher, so we see him in our rotation (soon)," Beinfest said. "Brantly and Turner are going to Triple A. Flynn's going to Double A in Jacksonville. So we're getting three 'close-to' players. Really in Brantly and Turner, we're getting major league ready players. That makes it more attractive, getting guys you may not have to wait as long for."
The Tigers, who are in need of a second baseman, have been scouting Infante for weeks. Infante said before batting practice today that he expected to be traded.
"I think I'm gone," he said.
Sanchez, who is eligible for free agency, was also ripe trade bait and told reporters following Sunday's start in Pittsburgh that he understood the situation.
Beinfest said Wade LeBlanc would likely move into the rotation to fill Sanchez's spot, but expected Turner to move up before the end of the season. Beinfest said the straw that broke the camel's back was losing two out of three to the Cubs in Chicago.
"This is a restructuring," Beinfest said. "I mean, it's kind of an interesting word because it doesn't fit into white flag or selling or any of those types of things. But, let's face it, the current group that was here was not winning, so we could stay put and just hope. But I think it's enough sample size in this season to say wow, these problems are real. We've lost contact with the division. We've pretty much lost contact with the wild card. We better think about something else, so that's where we are.
"The message to the fans is we're disappointed, they should be disappointed, the current team did not win at the level we thought it should, and we need to make some changes. We're not winning as is, so we might as well try something else."
Beinfest did not rule out further moves before the July 31 trading deadline.
"If we need to make further changes, then we'll do it," Beinfest said. "I wouldn't say we're going to close up shop with a week to go before the trading deadline. We need to go through it. We need to go through it all, and do our work, and if that leads to something, fine, and if it doesn't fine."
Josh Johnson, who was on the mound Monday for the Marlins, is being scouted by other clubs and could be targeted in a deal. Lefty reliever Randy Choate, like Sanchez, is eligible for free agency after the season and could go to a team looking for veteran bullpen help.
Here's what Beinfest had to say about the trade: