Marlins President of Baseball Operations was quoted yesterday saying that Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is not available, yet with each passing day at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, we keep hearing stronger and stronger rumors that he could get traded in the next few days/weeks.
It was reported yesterday that the Dodgers inquired on Fernandez and were told that the Marlins wanted Corey Seager and Julio Urias. I am not sure I would be willing to give up Seager in a package for Fernandez, but Urias and Joc Pederson plus others? Sure.
Well, earlier this morning, Jayson Stark tweeted that a "mystery" team is making a "very strong" bid for Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez. Other clubs believe it's the Astros. Minutes later, FanDuel's Jessica Kleinschmidt tweeted that "sources tell me the Astros are in on Jose Fernandez. Willing to put together a "mega-package" centered around Mark Appel and other pitchers.
What would an offer for Fernandez look like?
Well, the Astros certainly have some young, controllable arms that the Marlins probably covet, in addition to Appel, who has not met expectations since being drafted a few years ago. Starting pitcher Lance McCullers figures to be involved in the trade talks as well, as he went 11-9 with a 3.22 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 3.50 xFIP, while striking out a batter per inning, walking just over three batters per nine and induced ground balls at a near 47% clip in his 29 starts last season. While not as good as Fernandez, he is an excellent replacement, and could be a #2 starter.
Appel, who was the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, went 10-3 with a 4.37 ERA, 1.413 WHIP, with a 110-51 strikeout to walk rate in 131.2 innings across Double-A and Triple-A last season. He has #2 starter potential, but does struggle with his control, and some says he lacks the aggressiveness to be a frontline starter.
The Astros have a few other pitching prospects, including Vincent Velasquez, who pitched well in his big league cup of coffee last season, striking out more than a batter per inning while making 7 starts and a total of 19 appearances.
Another Astros prospect that could be included in a package for Fernandez would be first base prospect A.J. Reed. I know the Astros need a first baseman, but to get another ace at the top of their rotation, joining lefty Dallas Keuchel, you have to pay up. Reed mashed at both Double-A and Triple-A last season, hitting over .300 with a .400+ OBP, hitting 36 home runs and driving in 127 runs. For a power hitter, he doesn't strike out a ton and knows how to take a walk.
So a package headed by McCullers, Appel and Reed would certainly get the conversation started on a good note.
Is this too much? Too little? Let's discuss.
Update: Since I wrote this piece, Evan Drellich from the Houston Chronicle tweeted that the Astros are not the "mystery" team. But let's speculate anyway.