Juan Soto gives Miami Marlins chance to change 15-year story

MIAMI - JUNE 24: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Florida Marlins smiles during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida on June 24, 2007. The Twins defeated the Marlins 7-4. (Photo by Victor Baldizon) MLB Photos via Getty Images)
MIAMI - JUNE 24: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Florida Marlins smiles during the game against the Minnesota Twins at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida on June 24, 2007. The Twins defeated the Marlins 7-4. (Photo by Victor Baldizon) MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Fifteen years later, the Miami Marlins can finally turn the page on Miguel Cabrera with a bold move for Juan Soto.

Fifteen years ago, the Miami Marlins made major headlines when they traded away one of the best players in MLB in Miguel Cabrera.

He was an ascendant talent, not even in his prime. All he would do afterwards is go on to prove every positive evaluation right and then some as he made a good case for being regarded as the best hitter of his generation. A treasure trove of rookies came in return, including two consensus Top 10 prospects. Needless to say, the move was unpopular. And, particularly if you happen to be a Miami Marlins fan, it should also be needless to say that the return wasn’t remotely close to the value of the star they shipped out the door.

Fifteen years later, the Marlins have the chance to make headlines again, this time by bringing the generational talent to South Florida. This time, the club can be the fun and entertaining aggressor, offering fans dramatic headlines about winning now, and not just way down the road. Just how can Miami bring such a thing about?

Simple. Bring Juan Soto to the Miami Marlins.

The bidding will be intense, no doubt. Yet the Marlins still boast arguably the best pitching depth in baseball. They also have a more highly regarded farm system than many of the more likely contenders. They can also offer both MLB ready young talent, and highly regarded low level prospects- a mix the Nationals are rumored to be looking for in such a deal. In short, there should be zero question about Miami being able to put together an attractive enough package to get this deal done. A recent Fish Stripes article offered one hypothetical permutation, and even ESPN saw some wisdom in Miami throwing their hat into the ring.

The only thing that should be questioned is whether Miami’s front office has the audacity to make this kind of franchise shaking move.

Two quick disclaimers at this point. Firstly, this is scarcely about making a run in the 2022 season. Secondly, and perhaps more surprisingly, this is a deal that should be explored even if the Marlins have no intention of trying to sign him to a long-term deal.

As for competing in 2022? That ship has unfortunately sailed, even with an expanded playoff field. The past week brought the news that the Marlins will be making their last stand without arguably four of their top five hitters. Plus, even when healthy, this is a lineup where every offensive offseason acquisition has failed save Joey Wendle (who’s hardly been a picture of health himself). If it wasn’t for bad luck, the 2022 Miami Marlins would have none at all…which has somewhat masked what was frankly just poor roster construction.

Which brings us to that second disclaimer, the fact that the Miami Marlins will never be signing Soto to some ridiculous record setting contract extension. This a two year and two month deal at most for Miami, pure and simple. No more, no less.

The 2022 season has proven that the Marlins need another big time bat. Jazz Chisholm has proven himself an All-Star, but he hasn’t proven he can carry a team to October all by himself. Even if he were to suit up for 162 games next season, he’s not enough. The starting pitching, though? That’s enough right now, and will be for the foreseeable future. The Marlins have to get aggressive, have to push in the chips.

Undeniably, Soto’s arbitration raises these next two years will be steep. He’d be the team’s highest paid player by a wide margin. No small thing for a small payroll club. However, not all dollars in sports are equal. The $20 million or so that Soto will garner next season is scarily close to Avisail Garcia money. Whereas the big free agents of 2023, Aaron Judge and Trea Turner, will likely be pulling down at least $30 million per year…and doing so for at least a decade. Soto is a better player than both of them, and requires a fraction of the financial commitment.

So why not spend two years pairing him with a cheap Chisholm and elite pitching, and chase a title. If this works, let him walk after 2024, and just extend Jazz. If it doesn’t work and catastrophe strikes, you can always flip him two trade deadlines from now.

Obviously, it’s not only about the money. Conservatively, four top prospects and two decent to good MLB players go back to a division rival in this trade. That’s an awful tough pill to swallow. Especially for just two years of control. On paper alone, it’s not just tough to swallow. It’s a dealbreaker.

Except, the Marlins situation can’t just be looked at on paper, can it? Every year, this franchise is judged through the prism of the firesales and broken promises that have come before. Held up against a Miami Dolphins team that spends truckloads of cash in an attempt to win. Even more annoyingly, measured against a Miami Heat team that not only spends, but also hardly ever makes a mistake and does win. And it’s not even the fact the South Florida market dismisses them as cheap and/or inept that’s the worst of it.

No, the worst of it is that the Miami Marlins are generally dismissed as irrelevant. As boring.

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Trading for the best player in the sport in his prime though? That’s not boring- that’s the kind of thunderbolt the Miami Marlins have been looking for, and the strongest sign of trying to win fans would have seen from the team since…well, since Miguel Cabrera was a Marlin.