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The MLB trade deadline has passed, and the Miami Marlins held on to ace pitcher Josh Johnson, instead electing to trade relief pitcher Edward Mujica to the St. Louis Cardinals and first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After a surprising move to trade Hanley Ramirez for almost nothing in return last week, the so-called fire sale turned into more of a rummage sale, as the team held on to high-priced players Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Jose Reyes. "I'm happy I'm still here," Johnson told the Miami Herald Tuesday.
Mujica, who was due salary arbitration after this season and would become a free agent after 2013, was sent to St. Louis for minor league third baseman Zack Cox, the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 2010 (25th overall). Baseball America ranked him the 88th best prospect in baseball ahead of this season. He has hit .289 in his minor league career with some power (9 home runs this season at Triple-A Memphis).
The Marlins assigned Cox to Double-A Jacksonville, but he could become Hanley Ramirez' permanent replacement at third base as early as next season. Mujica has a 4.38 ERA this season in 41 appearances.
Former UM standout Gaby Sanchez was the Marlins' Opening Day first-baseman for the past three seasons, but he played himself out of the lineup in 2012, hitting a paltry .202 and earning two separate trips to the minor leagues. The Marlins acquired Carlos Lee from the Houston Astros earlier in July to take his spot on the roster.
The Marlins decided to try to get something for Sanchez now rather than releasing him after the season (when he becomes eligible for salary arbitration and a raise). They got outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive balance draft pick that will likely end up being 35th to 40th overall next year. The Marlins also sent minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska to Pittsburgh in the deal.
Hernandez, a rookie, will join the Marlins in Atlanta, taking Mujica's spot on the 25-man roster. He projects to be a backup outfielder at best, though he has hit .274 over the past two seasons in Triple-A action.
Additionally, the Marlins told the Miami Herald today that trading Sanchez likely means outfielder Logan Morrison will be moved to first base. He has played his entire Major League career in the outfield, but first base is his natural position.
The Marlins might not be done dealing. Under MLB rules, teams can still trade players in August if they clear waivers. Lee is expected to be placed on waivers, at which point another team can claim him if they want to pay the remaining portion of his $18.5 million salary.
If no team claims him (and no one is expected to do that), then the Marlins can try to trade him. The team is also expected to try and find a taker for reliever (and former closer) Heath Bell.