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Jose Fernandez trade rumors, the Giants, and you

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The Marlins are nutty, but are they this nutty? Probably.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, everyone! The Giants made waves Monday night by signing 1B/OF/guardian golem Kyle Blanks to a minor league deal. The waves were made by Blanks walking past a local pond, but still. Then they one-upped themselves with an extension to freshly minted Gold Glove/Silver Slugger/bronze-ish beard-wearer Brandon Crawford. All in all, a pretty productive couple of days in San Francisco. But let’s see what else is cooking on the hot stove latel OH MY GOD

/record scratch
/the record player bursts into flames
/every record you own is suddenly the lost audio from Grizzly Man that even Werner Herzog is scared of

Craig Mish is a Miami sports radio host, so it’s plausible that he just spends several hours every morning inventing Derek-Dietrich-for-Mike Trout trade rumors interspersed with fart noises and ethnic stereotype accents. A glance at his Twitter timeline, though, indicates that he’s a rational, reasonable sort as sports radio hosts go. And he’s been watching out for this particular symptom of Marlins dysfunction for a little while. Still, this is a Trade Rumor Sourced From Sports Radio. So take it with the appropriate grain of salt. Restrain yourself. Approach this realistically and with due suspicion.

Okay, cool, now let’s do some wild speculation!

Would the Marlins trade Jose Fernandez?
Yes. Absolutely they would. They’re the Marlins. They signed an entire MLB core on the FA market, and then exiled them all to Canada a  year later. They hired Ozzie Guillen and then fired him for being Ozzie Guillen. They fired their manager, put his manager hat on the GM, and then fired the GM and both his hats. They’ve won the World Series twice, and both times they blew up the team in the following season. The Marlins are staggering around the classroom with a bubbling, hissing beaker that they’re trying to keep balanced, while everyone else in MLB asks what are you doing, why do you have a beaker, this is American Literature.

Pure Loria weirdness aside, Craig Calcaterra points out that Fernandez is a Scott Boras client. If the Marlins are dead certain he's going to demand more in three years than they're willing to pay, then yeah, they could certainly get a lot of value from trading him. They could also get a lot of value by building around him and Giancarlo Stanton for three years and winning a bunch of baseball games, but, y'know. Whatever, man. There's more important things to life than winning.

Do the Giants need Jose Fernandez?
Yes.

Does anyone else need Jose Fernandez?
Literally every team in baseball, including the team that might trade him. That’s not an exaggeration. Fernandez is a young ace with three years of club control remaining. Contending teams can plug him into their rotation and improve it. Bubble teams can slot him in at the top of their rotations and make the leap. Rebuilding teams can build around him within the next couple seasons. Players of his caliber & control normally only hit the trade market if Billy Beane has a fever dream.

Are there any red flags to Jose Fernandez?

Well, normally a player this young and this good being on the market is a red flag in and of itself, but, Marlins. So really there’s just his health. After a phenomenal rookie season, his arm exploded eight starts into 2014, necessitating Tommy John surgery. He returned in July 2015, made seven starts before hitting the DL with a right biceps strain, and closed the season with four more starts. So, yeah. There’s a few worries. Young pitchers exist to torment us, and the Giants have been somehow avoiding that torment for over a decade now.

What’s his upside?
In just under 300 MLB innings, Jose has struck out ten and a half batters per nine innings. He doesn’t walk many guys. He doesn’t give up a lot of dingers. In his return from surgery, he posted a K:BB rate of 5.6 and an ERA of 2.92. His scouting grades are the sort that can’t be shown to children without parental consent. Jose Fernandez’s current status is "one of the best pitchers in baseball if he’s healthy." You have to spend thirty years drinking absinthe before you can see his upside.

Are there any ancillary benefits?
Absolutely! He is, to all appearances, a delightful human being, one of the patron saints of the bat-flips-and-laughter method of enjoying baseball. His first MLB home run might have precipitated the destruction of the Braves as a major league franchise. He has a heartwarming relationship with his grandmother. When he smiles, clouds part.

The Giants owe it to baseball to get him and Madison Bumgarner in the same rotation. For so many reasons.


How could the Giants get him?

This is the tricky part. Again, Fernandez would immediately become the prize of the trade market, with 29 teams exploring their options. The Marlins would be well within their rights to ask the Giants for Madison Bumgarner. They wouldn’t get him, but the Giants would have to respond "Eh, we can’t do that, how about…" as opposed to laughing hysterically, hanging up, and calling the Marlins back just to laugh some more.

More realistically, the Marlins could look for potential keystone players. This offseason’s equivalent of Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor; a can’t-miss top prospect, and other pieces around them. The Giants don’t have any of those. Christian Arroyo is promising, Tyler Beede is intriguing, Lucius Fox and Phil Bickford are young and exciting, but none of those guys can headline a Godfather offer. To come over the top, they’d have to delve into the major-league cupboard. Matt Duffy or Joe Panik is most likely; Brandon Belt is a dark horse, since the Marlins might want to leave Justin Bour at 1B.

Did you just name-check Justin Bour just so you could bring up that he got more Rookie of the Year votes than Joc Pederson?

Of course I did. Heh. Dodgers. Screw 'em.

So the Giants can’t get Jose Fernandez.
Well, they don’t have a Correa or a Lindor to cash in, and they might not want to blow up their homegrown infield after one season. It’s not promising. But once again - Marlins. In a way, their franchise is the Bizarro Giants. Both teams keep on chugging along, stubbornly doing their own thing despite head-scratching from industry insiders and process mavens. But while the Giants clutch their homegrown players like letters from Grandpa, the Marlins run a yearly game of musical chairs, and when Jeffrey Loria shuts off the Nickleback, whoever doesn’t have a seat is on the market. We were all focused on Marcell Ozuna, but Jose stopped to rescue a kitten from a tree, and now he might not have a seat.

Should they make an offer?
Absolutely! Maybe the Marlins really, really like Tyler Beede and are certain they can turn him into their next ace, so he can win 20 games a year before being traded in the 2018 offseason. Maybe Casey McGehee’s been telling everyone how great Matt Duffy is and the Marlins would give up Fernandez and Ozuna to get him. Maybe the Marlins want to do a full rebuild and a quantity-over-quality offer of Arroyo, Mac Williamson, and a pile of mid-minors arms will pry Jose loose. Or maybe they’re convinced they can contend with a little more hitting, and Brandon Belt is just the big bat they need. You don’t have to take the brown acid to visualize a scenario in which the Giants get Jose Fernandez.

Will they get him?
Almost definitely not. The Red Sox just gave Dave Dombrowski an office that came with a steamer trunk full of prospects, and he’s trying to shove it closed before all the prospects get out, looking around wildly for someone to help him out by taking a few of these prospects. He has the money to get an ace on the open market, but based on his track record, there’s no reason for him to be satisfied with just one ace. Not when he could get David Price and Jose Fernandez.

Wait, could the Giants get David Price and Jose Fernandez?
I mean. Technically, yes. They’d have to do some crazy stuff. Kelby Tomlinson might be in the Opening Day lineup on purpose.

What if the Giants get David Price and Jose Fernandez, and the Warriors get Kevin Durant?
Okay, now we’re in brown acid territory.

In conclusion, the Giants should try to trade for Jose Fernandez, because he is very good at baseball and the San Francisco Giants are *checks* a baseball team. Thank you for reading.