Henderson Alvarez was an All-Star in 2014 and the Marlins' opening day starter last year. But he could be a goner -- flicked away like the spent ash at the end of a cigarette -- come midnight tonight.
That's the deadline for teams to either tender -- or non-tender -- contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, and the fate of Alvarez [stats] hangs in the balance. The Marlins have 10 arbitration players to consider, and nine of them are no-brainers.
Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, A.J. Ramos, Tom Koehler, Bryan Morris, Carter Capps and David Phelps are all keepers. Reliever Aaron Crow will almost certainly be non-tendered given that he missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but still stands to make about $2 million -- precious money to the Marlins -- in the arbitration process.
Alvarez, though, is the interesting one.
According to projections provided by mlbtraderumors.com, Alvarez is positioned to receive about $4 million through arbitration. And therein lies the quandary for the Marlins. Alvarez is coming off shoulder surgery and -- assuming there are no setbacks along the way -- likely wouldn't be ready to pitch again until a month or two into the season.
Even if the Marlins felt convinced that Alvarez will make it back and give them 20 or so starts, there's no guarantee he'll be the same pitcher he was before. On the other hand, $4 million isn't a lot to pay for a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, not in the current free agent climate in which the J.A. Happs of the world are landing three-year deals paying them $36 million. If Alvarez returns the same pitcher he once was, he's a bargain.
The Marlins, who are looking to upgrade the rotation with one or two starters, have no intention of spending big bucks on a mid-rotation arm. So they'll either go after the low-hanging fruit that remains after the pricier free agent starters are gone, or trade (Marcell Ozuna?) to acquire a pitcher.
For now, though, the clock is ticking on Alvarez.
Should the Marlins roll the dice and hang on to Alvarez? Or should they fold by cutting him loose?
What would you do?