Fans of all thirty teams want Jose Fernandez. But fans of the team who actually does have him are probably pretty upset upon seeing the trade rumor vultures circling their ace. He won Rookie of the Year in 2013 and he's the best pitcher the franchise has seen in years, maybe ever.
But despite the seemingly perfect fit -- a Cuban superstar in Miami -- things aren't working out well between Fernandez and the Marlins' front office. According to Andy Slater, the team and its players are often at odds. For example, former Marlin Jeff Baker was released from the team after passing out "50 red clown noses" to go with the circus music the players regularly blared in the clubhouse after a win. Furthermore, a player source told Slater that Fernandez "treats the front office like children" -- which is awesome, because that appears to be exactly what they are based on the way Jeffrey Loria has run the team. Fernandez has supposedly asked to be traded right to front office members faces, asking, "When are you going to trade me?"
Maybe he has an attitude problem, but can you really blame him for not wanting to play for Jeff Loria? Apparently, other players felt like the team was a mess as well, so maybe Fernandez just doesn't mince words. We don't really know enough to be sure, but we do know he's a spectacular pitcher.
Cited in the ESPN article, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says "people in the know" don't think Fernandez will be traded, but people are talking about it, so let's check it out.
David Schoenfield lists Raul A. Mondesi, Kyle Zimmer, Jorge Bonifacio, and Bubba Starling in the article, but he doesn't put together an actual package. So, here goes:
Mondesi, Zimmer, Miguel Almonte, Bonifacio, Scott Blewett, & Eric Skoglund to Miami for Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, and Martin Prado.
In this scenario, the Royals could come in under budget (somewhere around $108M), assuming they only make minor signings. Obviously, the lineup wouldn't be quite as good as it would be if they signed Zobrist and/or Gordon and left Infante on the bench. But then again, Prado would be off the books after one year, and several of the team's core guys are going to start getting expensive.
Prado is due $11 million in 2016, so potentially adding him to the deal would probably have Loria covering himself in weird oils and lighting aphrodisiacal candles all over the place. He could be useful as a sort of poor man's Ben Zobrist, moving from the outfield to second or third as needed.
Ozuna is supposedly available as well. I might be getting greedy in this hypothetical scenario, but if the Royals offered to take on Prado -- who will be the highest paid Marlin in 2016 barring trade, and yes that includes Giancarlo Stanton -- they might be able to relieve the Marlins of yet another player they apparently can't handle properly. Ozuna's agent, Scott Boras, will likely lobby for an Ozuna trade this winter since his client was sent to the minors last season for potentially dubious reasons.
It may be much more practical and realistic to envision only prospects heading out and only Fernandez coming back, but however you'd like to frame it, it seems as though the Royals have enough to get a deal for Fernandez done -- even if it looks like it would strip the farm system bare.
Giving up all that minor league talent would suck, but Fernandez very well might end up being the best pitcher in baseball over the next three years, so it might not hurt as much as you think — especially considering the questions surrounding Zimmer's health, Mondesi's bat, and the high overall failure rate of prospects.
There's no indication that this package would be enough to land Fernandez, Ozuna, and the salary dump Prado would represent (he's better than a salary dump, but we're talking about the Marlins here), but it seems like it would be competitive with the other offers posed by ESPN.
Who knows? Maybe the Royals would be much better off not making this deal even if the got the chance, but those minor leaguers would have to put together about 20 MLB wins over the next three years to equal what Fernandez, Ozuna, and a year of Prado would probably earn the team — and that's a conservative guess. Fernandez might be worth 20 wins by himself.
Several bad things could happen. Mondesi might end up being the player Francisco Lindor appeared to be in 2015. Zimmer's health concerns could take a turn for the better. Fernandez's could take a turn for the worse.
But clearly, the worst case scenario for this deal would be if the Marlins turned it down.