In a huge six-player deadline deal, the Houston Astros traded right-handed starter Jarred Cosart, outfielder Austin Wates, and infielder Enrique Hernandez to the Miami Marlins. In exchange, the Astros receive outfielder Jake Marisnick, third baseman Colin Moran, pitcher Francis Martes, and a compensation choice in the 2015 MLB draft.
Cosart isn't a technical rookie but is just a sophomore, making this an unusual youth-for-youth, prospect-for-prospect deal. Let's take a look.
Jarred Cosart, RHP: Sophomore Cosart is 9-7, 4.41 with a 75/51 K/BB in 116 innings this year, 119 hits allowed, 4.02 FIP. You have to love his stuff but his sabermetric profile isn't strong in the strikeout and K/BB departments. If a time traveling scout told me that Cosart would flame out due to command problems or injury I'd believe them, but if they told me he developed into a 200-inning-per-year-for-a-decade workhorse I'd believe that too.
Enrique Hernandez, SS-OF: Hernandez was a sixth round pick in 2009 from high school in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Groomed as a utility player who can handle multiple positions, he did not show much with the bat until this year when he broke out with a .336/.379/.503 mark in 304 at-bats between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City. Promoted to the majors, he's hit .284/.348/.420 in 81 at-bats over 24 games. He's never hit anything close to this in past seasons, with a career-high OPS of .732 back in rookie ball.
Hernandez is 5-11, 170, a right-handed hitter born August 24, 1991. He did hit 13 homers in 2013 but his overall line was just .236/.297/.375 and I don't think anyone expected this kind of outburst. His best attribute pre-season was a good glove at second base, but the Astros have played him all over the field with competent results. Given the out-of-career-context nature of his performance this year, I'm frankly not sure what to make of him.
Austin Wates, OF: Wates was a third round pick by the Astros in 2010 from Virginia Tech. He has been a rock-steady .300 hitter the minor leagues, with a career line of .303/.381/.415, including .300/.389/.376 in 89 games of Triple-A, with 45 walks and 48 strikeouts in 330 at-bats. He's also stolen 34 bases in 39 Triple-A attempts, 98-for-121 in his entire career.
Wates is listed at 6-1, 180, a right-handed hitter born September 2nd, 1988. Despite his propensity for hitting .300, scouts aren't wild about his inside-out swing. He's not a walk machine but he doesn't strike out very much. His running speed is above-average and he's developed into an efficient stealer, but he's a tweener defensively, lacking the instincts for center and the power for a corner.
All that said, I've always liked him for some reason and it wouldn't surprise me if he kept hitting .300, though whether that's enough to start regularly for a good team given his other limitations remains to be seen. He could be a fine reserve outfielder.
Francis Martes, RHP: Martes was signed by the Marlins out of the Dominican Republic in 2012. Information about him is sparse, but he's posted a 5.18 ERA in 33 innings for the Gulf Coast League Marlins, with a 33/20 K/BB ratio. Listed at 6-0, 170, he was born November 24, 1995. He is a live-armed rookie baller who is trying to learn to pitch, like two hundred other guys. Obviously the Astros saw something they liked with him and as more details emerge we will pass them along.
Jake Marisnick, OF: Drafted by the Blue Jays in the third round from a California high school in 2009, Marisnick was traded to Miami in the huge Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes trade in November 2012. He received a major league trial last year but hit just .183/.231/.248 in 109 at-bats, and hit just .167/.216/.162 in another 48 at-bats this year. He's spent most of the season with Triple-A New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League, hitting .277/.326/.434 with 10 homers, 17 walks, 64 strikeouts, and 24 stolen bases in 343 at-bats.
Marisnick is a 6-4, 225 pound right-handed hitter and thrower born March 30, 1991. His bat is obviously an issue and he's been dogged by trouble with pitch recognition and swing mechanics. However, the Marlins did him no favors by jumping him from Double-A to the majors last summer with no intervening exposure against Triple-A breaking stuff; it is still possible he can improve. His outfield glove is considered outstanding in all respects, good enough for him to have a career as a defensive specialist even if the bat doesn't come around.
Colin Moran, 3B: Drafted in the first round, sixth overall, from the University of North Carolina in 2013, Moran was rated as the top pure hitter in the '13 college class by many scouts. He's lived up to that in the batting average department thus far with a .295 career mark at the A-ball level. However, scouts wondered how much home run power he would show in pro ball and indeed he has not been a slugger, knocking nine homers and 29 doubles for a .408 SLG in 515 at-bats.
Moran is a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, listed at 6-4, 215, born October 1st, 1992. Despite his size he doesn't produce huge power numbers due to a tailored line drive swing. That said, he's still been a reasonably productive hitter; if he can hit .300 with 30 doubles and 15 homers a year, his other skills will play. Although he lacks running speed and stolen base potential, this defense at third base has been much better than expected, with excellent reliability and surprising range. The glovework will buy the power development of his bat plenty of time.
ANALYSIS: This is a classic sell-high, buy-low maneuver for the Astros. Cosart is certainly talented, but the sabermetric red flags are there and it is plausible that his trade value will never be higher than it currently is. Hernandez has never hit this well before and they may be selling that lightning before it vanishes. Wates is fast and can hit for average, but Marisnick is younger, has more power potential and a much better glove. Marisnick's own value on the trade market is suppressed right now due to his problems in the majors, so they are buying low. Moran hasn't hit for home run power this year, also suppressing his public stock, but he was a first round pick only a year ago, hasn't been bad by any means, and has been very good defensively. Martes could be anything. Overall, the logic on Houston's part is clear. For the Marlins, this boils down to Cosart: can they mold that wonderful arm into a pitcher who can dominate consistently?