Marlins Trade Olsen, Willingham to Nats

According to several reports, the Florida Marlins have traded righthander Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham to the Washington Nationals in exchange for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and A-ballers P.J. Dean and Jake Smolinksi.

Strange deal, as you would think the Marlins would get more in return for the 24-year-old Olsen, and how exactly do the Nationals expect to benefit?

The Marlins’ acquisition of Bonifacio means that incumbent iron-handed second baseman Dan Uggla will either be dealt or moved to the outfield. For those who don’t know Bonifacio from a hole in the wall, he projects to be Eric Young with a better glove.

Smolinksi and Dean are both 19-year-olds with some upside but at least 2-3 years away from MLB. Neither is a “sure fire” prospect, with Dean probably slightly ahead after a strong season in the NY-Penn League. Smolinksi is a young version of Daniel Murphy — a kid who can hit for average, showing good patience at the plate and solid strike zone judgment, with questionable power potential, and without a position — playing both the outfield and 2B. A lot of projection here.

Since they’ve already made one deal with an NL East rival, perhaps the Marlins would be open to another one — moving Uggla to the Mets. I’d take his horrendous defense and .514 slugging percentage in a heartbeat.

As for the Nats, they get a sorely needed starting pitcher who can step in and anchor the front end of the rotation for the next five years. Personally I can’t stand Olsen but there aren’t many 24-year-olds with his experience and skillset. He fits right into that “bad boy” (read: spoiled rotten brats) collective under Manny Acta. I’m predicting a fistfight between Olsen and Elijah Dukes during spring training, with Lastings Milledge kicking Olsen in the ribs once Dukes wrestles him down.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude November 11, 2008 at 7:12 am
    Don’t agree on taking Uggla. Yeah, he hits home runs, but that’s about it. He can’t field, he can’t run, he strikes out a TON, and to me he’s just not a player on a winning ballclub. He’s the type of guy who would come up in the ninth with his team down by two and nobody on base and be swinging at a 3-0 pitch trying to park it. I can’t understand the Nats, either. Kearns, Milledge, and Dukes already comprise their OF, and now they acquire Willingham? Are they going to convert him back to a catcher? Or stick him at 1B? And I guess having one soft-tossing left in John Lannan wasn’t enough for Washington, so now they have Olsen. I’d be willing to bet that Olsen never finishes a season with the Nats with more wins than losses. In fact, mark me down for 8-16 in 2009.
  2. joe November 11, 2008 at 10:45 am
    I like Uggla for his bat, obviously, but also for his effort. He may stink in the field but he gets dirty, and hangs in on the DP turns. And though he does do a lot of swinging and missing, he also has increased his walks each year and mashes a ton of extra base hits. To me he’s Mark Bellhorn on steroids. Oops … not saying Bellhorn was ever on steroids, nor that Uggla is ….

    Uggla is far from perfect, but who is? I’m not saying trade away Jon Niese for him … but how about a suspect like Caleb Stewart?

    I would guess the Willingham acquisition means the Nats will trade the oft-injured Kearns, who is similar to Uggla offensively. His stock has plummeted significantly, and might be worth going after as a fourth outfielder / platoon guy with Murphy or Church. Again, not for a top prospect.

    I’m with you on Olsen, and hope he goes more like 2-22. Or 0-24. I don’t know about soft-tosser, though …. he gets it up there near 94-95 and has a nasty slider. In fact, to me he compares to Oliver Perez.

  3. isuzudude November 11, 2008 at 11:33 am
    If it’s for a Caleb Stewart or an Ambiorix Concepcion, I would probably be willing to take a flyer on Kearns, although I don’t doubt Tatis could put up similar numbers if given an equal amount of ABs. His $8-mil pricetag for 2009 isn’t all that attractive, but he can be a free agent after next season and could be the stopgap the Mets are looking for until FMart is ready.

    I’m still not biting on Uggla, though. You see a down-and-dirty, power hitting 2B – I see a reincarnate of Jermoy Burnitz, only from the right side of the plate and a much worse fielder. I just don’t see him as an “Omar” type of guy. I pretty much think if Castillo ain’t playing second to open the year, it’s going to be O-Dog. Just my gut feeling.

  4. joe November 11, 2008 at 11:45 am
    Well, we’ll have to disagree on Uggla, and I’m not high enough on him to argue with you any further. The fact that I LOVED Jeromy Burnitz (from beginning to end of career) is a sure sign we’ll never agree on this one!

    If the Mets can move Castillo first, I agree on Hudson coming to, er, the Hudson. And I’m thinking that Omar may find a taker in LA or Chicago.

  5. Micalpalyn November 11, 2008 at 12:28 pm
    Personally i like Olsen. As a young lefty drafted four spots ahead of Maine. I like the Ollie comparisons too. Willingham=Kearns. Frankly I’d add both to my potential non-tenders list.
  6. joe November 11, 2008 at 12:45 pm
    Mic, good point on the non-tenders. Are both Willingham and Kearns possible non-tenders?