The Marlins spent a busy offseason making wholesale changes to a roster many felt could take it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. Now, with the season up in flames, they are tearing it down almost as quickly as they pieced it together.
The Marlins have agreed to trade pitcher Mat Latos and underperforming first baseman Michael Morse -- two of their most prominent offseason acquisitions -- to the Los Angeles Dodgers for three minor-leaguer players. The Marlins threw in their 2016 Competitive Balance draft pick in a deal that has all the components of a salary dump.
By trading Latos, Morse and reliever Steve Cishek, who was dealt to the Cardinals on Friday, the Marlins effectively cleared $8.7 million in payroll from the books this season, as well as the $8 million Morse is due to make next season. The Dodgers agreed to pick up all his money.
Trading Latos comes as no surprise. As Latos is headed for free agency following the season, he didn't fit in the Marlins' future plans and becomes a two-month rental for the Dodgers. Either did Morse, apparently. Morse, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal in December, struggled at the plate and ultimately lost his job at first base to Justin Bour. Morse hit .214, drove in just 12 runs, and posted a career-low OPS of .592.
Latos made 16 starts, going 4-7 with a 4.48 ERA, though he has pitched better of late.
It marks the third straight year the Marlins have traded their Competitive Balance pick, the only draft picks that can be traded. They used their pick in 2013 to acquire reliever Bryan Morris from Pittsburgh, and packaged it in their deal with Houston at last year's trade deadline to obtain pitcher Jarred Cosart.
The next to go for the Marlins could be Dan Haren. And several teams, including the Indians, are also asking about outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The Marlins have been scouting Cleveland's pitching, just in case.