The Jose Fernandez trade rumors were already out there, and they may be more grounded than your typical Hot Stove fodder. Andy Slater, a Miami radio host, reports that the Miami Marlins are not happy with Fernandez's attitude:
"Jose talks to management like they are children," another player source told me. I've now learned, it goes beyond that.
On at least two occasions in the Marlins clubhouse this season, Fernandez approached (president of baseball operations Mike) Hill --- according to multiple player sources --- and openly said "when are you going to trade me?"
"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 told me. "We thought it would get him to be more humble."
Fernandez also apparently ignored a team rule about wearing a hoodie during batting practice and games unless the weather warranted it and got into an argument with Casey McGehee when he showed up late before a game.
So, there are two ways to interpret this: Fernandez simply asked for a trade and wore a hoodie; or, he's a trouble-making malcontent who thinks he's above the team.
Will he be traded? Joe Frisaro, who covers the Marlins for MLB.com, tweeted this Wednesday night:
Should he be traded?
In the "no" column: He's good; he's under team control for three more seasons; the Marlins may not be able to extract fair value since he hasn't pitched a full season since 2013; they'll only further alienate their fan base; you'll tick off Giancarlo Stanton; and remember how that Miguel Cabrera trade worked out.
In the "yes" column: You can't guarantee his health (besides his Tommy John surgery, he missed time in 2015 with a strained biceps); he's only under team control for three more seasons; his agent is Scott Boras so there's no way he signs an extension before free agency; the Marlins need depth and could get a lot for him; and maybe he is a pain in the butt.
Anyway, it's the Marlins. You can't discount the possibility he gets dealt. For trade partners, you have to start with teams with deep farm systems, especially those with players close to the majors.
The Marlins would ask for Corey Seager and get turned down, but what about a deal centered around left-hander Julio Urias? He's 19 and made it to Triple-A already and will enter 2016 as one of the best pitching prospects in the game. Jose De Leon and Grant Holmes are two highly rated right-handers, and Austin Barnes, who hit .315 at Triple-A, settled in at catcher in 2015 but has also played second and third in his minor league career. Barnes could be a valuable utility type. The Dodgers have the resources to get Fernandez and would love to add a less expensive starter to the rotation, as well as insurance in case Zack Greinke doesn't re-sign.
Frankly, for a big-budget team like Boston it makes more sense to just sign a free-agent starter than further gut the farm system. But maybe they don't sign one of the top pitchers out there; then they might turn to Fernandez. The Marlins would certainly ask about second baseman Yoan Moncada and third baseman Rafael Devers. The Red Sox also have major-league-ready starters like Brian Johnson and Henry Owens, and the Marlins need rotation depth.
Fernandez would be a nice low-cost alternative to filling Johnny Cueto's spot in the rotation. The issue is whether the Royals have the prospects. Shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi is the team's top prospect -- you may remember him from making his MLB debut in the World Series -- but he's more tools than production at this point, hitting just .243/.279/.372 in Double-A. Plus, the Marlins appear set at shortstop in the near term with Adeiny Hechavarria. Right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall pick in 2012, still has big stuff but has had trouble staying healthy. Outfielders Jorge Bonifacio and Bubba Starling are similar to Mondesi, with excellent tools but mediocre results.
No, you're not getting Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton, but could the Twins add Fernandez to go alongside Jose Berrios, who will debut early in 2016, to finally give them some strikeout arms in the rotation? If the Twins aren't willing to part with those three guys, a deal would have to start with outfielder/first baseman Max Kepler, who hit .322/.416/.531 at Double-A. Shortstop Nick Gordon, Minnesota's first-round pick in 2014, could be reunited with his older brother. Right-hander Kohl Stewart, another former first-round pick, didn't produce big numbers in Class A, but he's the kind of power arm the Marlins like to take chances on.
The Astros are likely focusing on first base/DH and the bullpen more than adding another starter behind Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers Jr., Mike Fiers and Scott Feldman, but they're a team with the young talent to acquire Fernandez. The Marlins would certainly ask for McCullers, but the Astros have other intriguing arms like Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel and Michael Feliz, plus third baseman Colin Moran and some high-upside/high-risk outfielders in the lower minors like Daz Cameron and Kyle Tucker.