Breaking: Marlins Win Trade, Pay Baseball Player, Pigs Fly

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with teammate Garrett Cooper #26 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 04: Miguel Rojas #19 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with teammate Garrett Cooper #26 after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 4, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Look only at bWAR, look only through a prism irrespective of contextual value, but look: the Miami Marlins may have won a trade once.

You could be forgiven for not knowing Miguel Rojas. He’s not the type of player that makes waves in this era, and he doesn’t play for a team that’s been worth watching for quite some time. But the Miami Marlins shortstop has quietly pieced together a skillset redolent of a productive professional baseball player.

I say professional because, unlike many players who come through Marlins Park, Rojas is being compensated for his trade. The Marlins rewarded his efforts on Wednesday.

Rojas and the Marlins signed a two-year contract extension that buys out his final season of arbitration and one free agent year, with the possibility of a third year.

More from Call to the Pen

Along with Martin Prado, Jose Urena, and Adam Conley, Rojas is among the quartet of longest-tenured Marlins, all of whom joined the team in 2015. Rojas made his way to the Marlins as part of a chunky trade in December of 2014. Unlike most of Miami’s notable trades of late, they might have actually won this one.

The Miami Marlins acquired Rojas along with Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and cash from the Dodgers for Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Enrique Hernandez, and Austin Barnes.

On the surface, it’s a coin flip: interesting because there are a lot of names, unique because everyone involved either already was or later became a notable major leaguer. This trade tree doesn’t branch as wildly as some, but branch it does.

The Dodgers sent Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, the only of the four not to don Dodger blue.

Hatcher went bust over parts of three seasons, earning -0.7 bWAR out of the bullpen. ERA paints his 2015 at least as a positive year, 3.69 ERA/3.39 FIP across 49 games, but the bottom fell out in 2016 and they sent him to Oakland midway through 2017 for cash.

Barnes has been a rare “playoff specialist” for the Dodgers the last few seasons, backing up Yasmani Grandal during the regular season but supplanting him to run the show for most of their back-to-back pennant runs. There’s extra value there, of course, but base-level, during parts of five regular seasons, Barnes accumulated 3.2 bWAR.

Kike Hernandez also proved himself valuable as a right-handed dirt dog who mostly lives the nomadic lifestyle shared by so many other bohemian LA boardwalkers. This season he’s been a more respectable citizen as a denizen of the keystone, starting 84 games with a .240/.309/.423 slash line. He may pay his taxes now at second, but he still travels for much of the year, spending time at every position save pitcher, catcher, and third base.

All in all, Hernandez has been the biggest contributor returned in this unwieldy winter meetings deal of 2014 with 7.6 bWAR. Kendrick put together 1.5 bWAR in his time after the trade, which we’ll add to the bucket for generosity’s sake, totally the Dodgers value return at 11.6 bWAR.

The Miami Marlins half of the deal has a little more Humpty Dumpty to it, as subsequent trades make the value return a little tougher to piece together. The simplest version can safely assign 1.9 bWAR to Haren for half a season of production and 9.3 bWAR to Gordon for his time in Miami, though both were stripped and traded for parts. That puts the Marlins return at 11.2 bWAR before factoring in Rojas’ contributions or those of the players returned for Gordon/Haren.

Rojas will easily tip the scales to count the 2014 swap as a rare Marlins trade win. He’s been worth 7.9 bWAR since being welcomed to Miami, with most of his production coming in the last three seasons.

2019 has easily been Rojas’ most complete year to date, and reports indicate he made a concerted effort to stay in Miami – and why not, there’s playing time for him, the fanbase knows his name, and, most of all, moving is a huge hassle.

For the Marlins, they’ll need someone to take the mantle of a veteran leader when Martin Prado eventually turns to dust and Miami’s shorefront breeze whisks his remains into baseball’s Valhalla. Once he’s gone, someone has to be there to tell the new kids where the good lunch spots are.

Rojas won’t embarrass them on the field either (as if that were possible). His bat may not seem like much, but if he continues to produce at his current level, he’s a viable starting shortstop. He carries a .285/.335/.383 line on the year, which more or less falls in line with his career norms, though his OBP craters every other season.

Still, he’s a supremely talented defensive infielder, and versatile to boot, should the Marlins at some point over the next two seasons want to promote their newest future ex-Marlin Jazz Chisholm.

Rojas puts the bat on the ball and, thrice in his career,  he’s registered double digits in Defensive Runs Saved at short. With a young squad that’s building around a solid core of starting pitchers, Rojas is the left tackle charged with protecting their valuable young arms. For that, he’s more than capable. Besides, for once, it’s nice to see a trade tree in Miami that actually produces fruit.

Next. Marlins sign Miguel Rojas to bridge contract. dark

(Of course, contextually, one might consider part-time contributors on a playoff team like the Dodgers as more valuable than, say, the 21 high-quality starts Haren gave a 91-loss Miami Marlins team in 2015. All things considered, on-field war values are close enough that this trade can probably be considered a wash, but for christ’s sake let’s let the Marlins have one.)