The Marlins might have traded prospect Andrew Heaney Wednesday, but they're quickly filling any hole that might have opened. The Marlins have reportedly acquired Mat Latos from the Reds according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. While Latos isn't an ace, exactly, he doesn't have to be for a team that will have Jose Fernandez back from Tommy John surgery by mid-season.
Latos going to #Marlins for DeSclafani and Chad Wallach.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2014
Latos is certainly capable of faking ace-dom for a few months until Fernandez is ready to reclaim his rightful position. Over three seasons with the Reds, he produced a 117 ERA+, good for 21st in the majors over that stretch, minimum 500 innings. That's right behind Justin Verlander and Gio Gonzalez, and a few points better than Madison Bumgarner. It's not mind-blowing, of course, but it's obviously great.
He'll join a Marlins' rotation that already features Henderson Alvarez -- a 24-year-old sinkerballer who has blossomed for Miami -- and Jarred Cosart. While Cosart is no sure success story yet, like Alvarez, he seemed better able to harness his filthy sinking stuff once he got to Miami and their coaching staff. The mid-season rotation of Fernandez, Latos, Alvarez, Cosart, and Dan Haren -- who the Dodgers are paying to pitch in Miami -- has a lot of potential.
The Marlins need to hold on without Fernandez long enough for that to matter, of course, but if their youthful lineup continues to take steps forward, and Dee Gordon does his job plugging up the gaping hole at second, they have a chance in an NL East that has only gotten weaker this winter.
The Reds are clearly now in rebuilding mode, as they have dealt Latos to the Marlins as well as Alfredo Simon to the Tigers. There were reports the team was already way over budget for 2015, as well, and shedding Latos' last year of arbitration eligibility will help them with that issue. With Johnny Cueto, Latos, Simon, and Mike Leake all free agents in a year, and the offense lacking, it was time for the Reds to figure out a way to go for it, or to get a head start on a rebuild.