Boston Red Sox Potential Trade Target: Jose Fernandez


“Dream big” my father told me, and so I would look forward to a career as an ace pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and throw in interests such as money counting, wine tasting and memoir writing. Alas, like all dreams, it was to end with crashing reality and the closest I ever came to making it real was drinking intentionally cheap supermarket wine while writing this article about a potential ace for the Red Sox. Thanks dad.

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The idea though really is a good one. If you’re going to do something, at least don’t aim to do something half-heartedly. Aim for ridiculous heights with intention to accept realistic norms and who knows? Maybe you’ll actually be that 1 in a million guy. With that in mind, let’s begin to dream together – Jose Fernandez in Boston.

OK, so before that, let’s set the scene. Fernandez is a 22 year old right handed pitcher from Cuba who is currently under lock and key with the Miami Marlins for three more years. Sound realistic and normal enough? He’s the most precocious phenom in Major League Baseball, has an absolutely insane K/9 that has been over 10 since his debut in 2013, and his 96+ MPH fastball isn’t even his most deadly pitch. That’d be his breaking ball and he throws it as much if not more than his heat, the movement and bite Fernandez is able to generate is so overwhelming many consider it to be the best secondary pitch in the game. There are your ridiculous heights.

The idea of Boston landing Fernandez is so unquestionably obscene, nobody even considered it until now. It could only ever be a dream. Consider this, Red Sox President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski, fresh off trading throw-away prospects for elite closer Craig Kimbrel, has already stated he expects Boston’s ace to come from free agency. Now look at it from the Marlin’s point of view. They have this kid who is not only destined for greatness, he’s living it. To cap it off, though you may be worried about his electric arm burning out, he has already seen through a successful Tommy John surgery and come out as dominating as before. With Miami’s large population of Cubans, Fernandez is an important cog in their system, indeed he could easily be the most important, the very face of the Marlin’s franchise.

But wait, this dream isn’t over yet, because behind the scenes a storm has been brewing in Florida and at its center is Fernandez. Stories have appeared with growing frequency of clubhouse unrest with the Marlins and increasingly the finger has been pointed at Fernandez. Fernandez, it must be said, is a passionate individual. He yells at opponents, at the umpires and at himself. He gets swept up in the crowd’s enthusiasm and rides the waves of applause to greatness. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise, as Andy Slater notes, that Fernandez has been just as blunt and outspoken behind the scenes:

"“The Marlins’ front office is 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 (Marlins’ General Manager Michael) 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.’"

Yikes! Hoping the kid gets bombed to fix personality issues? Doesn’t sound like a very healthy relationship to me. And that’s just the beginning. With that as a backdrop, the Marlins have had an all-too-public and very recent falling out with Fernandez’s agent one Scott Boras.

You’ve probably heard of Boras, he is also Xander Bogaerts agent and is infamous for being a tough nut to crack on signing players to extensions. So it is that the Marlins have tried on no less than three occasions to snap up Fernandez for the long term, only for him to turn them down. More recently though, Boras went on record complaining about fellow Marlins client Marvell Ozuna who was jettisoned from the main team to the minor leagues mid-season. Since then, Ozuna has been the subject of trade speculation, but things have gone from bad to worse.

Marlins’ President of Baseball Ops David Samson, speaking to the media shortly after this month’s GM meetings, announced that Boras is essentially persona non grata for the Marlins and would not be allowed to take part in discussions with the club regarding Fernandez’s post-Tommy John workload in 2016. How to win friends and influence people.

This in and of itself isn’t enough to make dream transfer to reality, but on Tuesday a bomb was dropped from Craig Mish of SiriusXM Radio:

Mish has broken news of many of the Marlins’ trades in the past and certainly seems to have insider sources in the team. So what now? Well Samson did half-refute it, by saying Fernandez was in a category “unlikely” to be traded, but then you’d have to wonder if the current reality is tenable and if a Godfather offer from Boston couldn’t change the situation. For that, Dombrowski would need to be on board and, though he may have stated that the Red Sox ace is likely to come from free agency, Fernandez becoming an option makes it a whole new ballgame.

What would an offer like that look like? Well, the mind boggles. Fernandez’s popularity and the importance in maintaining support from Miami’s Cuban fanbase, could require a Cuban star in return. No, not Rusney Castillo, sadly. But what about Yoan Moncada? Boston’s number 1 prospect and the number 7 prospect according to in all of baseball. Such a headliner to a deal would be a bitter pill for the Red Sox organisation and its supporters to swallow, but if anyone might be worth it, it would be Fernandez.

3 years of Fernandez under cost-control matches well with the 3 years of Kimbrel they tied up and, still frees up flexibility for further additions to the pitching, bullpen or outfield as Dombrowski has envisaged. Boston is on better terms with Boras, indeed it would be difficult to be on worse, and could potentially have a better crack at extending Fernandez. Of course, that is said while the Sox currently try to wrap up Bogaerts for longer too. They could even take Ozuna in the deal, with a prospect or current players package in return, and kill two of Miami’s birds with one stone so they can wash their hands of it.

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With all that said, I’d be doing you a disservice if I kept hyping this without a healthy dose of reality. Even with all of the clubhouse problems, Fernandez’s attitude and his poor choice in legal representatives, Miami have him and need him. He’s still their most important cog, the face of their franchise, beloved by the fans and the bringer in of money. With the Marlins currently negotiating with Fox for broadcasting rights, the loss of Fernandez and his star power could potentially cost them big. Indeed Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal states the Marlins would have to be suicidal to trade Fernandez.

With a short window of opportunity available in the prime of super-slugger Giancarlo Stanton, Miami needs all the show ready talent it can to get success now. A trade of Fernandez would signal the franchise is entering a period of rebuilding from which they may not recover in time.

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So there you go, to quote Samson again, it is unlikely. Unlikely the Marlins will trade Fernandez. Unlikely the Red Sox will open up the vault for him. Unlikely we’ll have this discussion again next offseason. But you know what? Sometimes you need to aim for the ridiculous heights to obtain the realistic norms, and hey, it’s fun to dream big. Now, how about Fernandez and David Price?