On Tuesday, the Marlins announced yet another move during their busy 2011-12 offseason. Miami traded back-up catcher John Baker to the San Diego Padres for left-handed starter Wade LeBlanc. Baker is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he had during the 2010 season. He appeared in just 16 games at the end of 2011 for Florida. With all-star John Buck as the starting catcher, and Brett Hayes as a proven number two, Miami did not hesitate in trading Baker.
The Marlins received Wade LeBlanc in return for Baker, who appeared in 14 games for San Diego last season. He has 17 career wins and has posted a 4.54 career ERA. LeBlanc will be contending for a position in the starting rotation come Spring Training. That makes the 2012 Marlins starting rotation appear as follows (only half-seriously): 1) uncertain, 2) uncertain, 3) uncertain, 4) uncertain, 5) uncertain.
The Fish have talked with starters Mark Beuhrle and plan to meet with C.J. Wilson. If either of these pitchers are signed, the rotation might look like (seriously this time):
1) Josh Johnson/Mark Beuhlre
2) CJ Wilson/Josh Johnson
3) Anibal Sanchez
4) Ricky Nolasco
Competing for that fifth position would be LeBlanc, Brad Hand, Alex Sanabia, Sean West, Chris Volstad, and whoever else emerges come spring time.
The Marlins are set on competing in the years to come, and in the NL East are the Phillies, Braves, and up-and-coming Nationals, all of whom have a solid five-man rotation. The Marlins are making the right move by shopping for starting pitchers, because a deep rotation is absolutely necessary in order to compete in their division.