Marlins make decision to part with prospects to get Cosart, Hernandez

Jarred Cosart had a 4.41 ERA in 116 1/3 innings this season for the Astros.

Troy Taormina/Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI — The Miami Marlins wanted a controllable pitcher and got one in Houston Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.

In what president of baseball operations Michael Hill called the closest deal the organization has cut — with less than 45 seconds to spare — the Marlins acquired Cosart, utility player Kike Hernandez and Triple-A outfielder Austin Wates.

It cost Miami two of its top prospects — outfielder Jake Marisnick and third baseman Colin Moran — as well as minor-league righty Francis Martes and the 2015 competitive balance pick.

"As we approached the deadline our goal was always to add a starting pitcher — at least one starting pitcher — to the mix to help this ballclub, and we were fortunate to acquire Jarred Cosart," Hill said. "There were a number of deals we were working on today. Some of them had legs. This was the only one that got legs. Some others came up a little short on, but in the end we were happy to add a starting pitcher to the fold."

Cosart was 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 116 1/3 innings over 20 starts for the Astros this season. He made his major-league debut last July, posting a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts. Last Saturday, he allowed five runs over 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Marlins. He has a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a power slider.

Most importantly: Cosart will not be arbitration-eligible until 2017. Miami preferred a controllable pitcher rather than a rental. Cosart was on the laundry list Miami came up.

"I’m really excited about joining the Marlins," Cosart said. "They have an exciting young group of talent and it would be great to make a run down the stretch. Having just faced them last week, I know their lineup is real tough. I’m looking forward to getting there and getting started with them."

The 24-year-old joins a young rotation of right-handers Nathan Eovaldi (24), Henderson Alvarez (24), Jacob Turner (23), Tom Koehler (28) and lefty Brad Hand (24).

Scheduled to start for Houston on Thursday, Cosart will instead fly to Miami with Hernandez and join the club Friday. It is uncertain where he will fit in the rotation.

"Just the ceiling and the power to the stuff fits with who we are," Hill said. "He’s a 1 plus, young starting pitcher, 24 years old, three plus pitches and we think he’ll fit nicely with our existing inventory and someone we can grow with."

The organization had made it clear it wasn’t looking at trades that included key guys on the 25-man roster. Boston reportedly asked for Christian Yelich, who doesn’t become arbitration-eligible until 2017 and is an essential part of the club.

Earlier in the day, blockbuster deals between the Oakland Athletics and Boston Red Sox, as well as the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, headed in the opposite direction by dealing major-league talent. Lefty Tommy Milone went to the Minnesota Twins for utility player Sam Fuld, and righty John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hill admitted Miami was in on key targets like lefty Jon Lester, Lackey and even left-hander David Price — but not Chicago White Sox veteran John Danks.

"Read the rumors and been on a lot of those discussions but ultimately when you’re talking of the cost to acquire those types of players we wanted something we could hold onto something for us, our situation, our market," Hill said. "We wanted a piece we could move forward with and help us in the near term and long term.

"We’ve spoke as we go through this process it’s a tough market to shop in and you knew going into the starting pitcher market it was going to be costly and expensive and we definitely paid a lot to get these players, but we spoke to all of our people — (vice president of scouting) Stan Meek, (director of international operations) Albert Gonzalez — it’s their jobs to give us the ammunition to help this major-league club and organization, and that’s what we were able to do."

Hernandez, 22, can play second base, shortstop and outfield. He made his big-league debut July 1. In 24 games, he hit .284 with four doubles, two triples, a homer and eight RBI. Against the Marlins this past weekend, he went 1 for 10.

As talks developed with the Astros, Hernandez’s name came up. In Triple-A Oklahoma City, he hit .337 with 17 doubles, two triples, eight homers and 31 RBI. Hernandez could become the club’s second baseman or move around the lineup.

"Versatile piece, and I think that’s something for (manager Mike Redmond) and his staff that’s very valuable to have a versatile piece," Hill said. "As we got into this knowing we gave up a lot in this deal we wanted to try and get something valuable to us in return.

"We love the bat. He’s an offensive player. He was leading the (Pacific Coast League) in hitting before he got called up by Houston. We’ve seen a lot of him through Puerto Rican Winter League, Double-A, big leagues, It’s a very good bat. What you’re seeing offensively is not surprising."

Wates appeared in 74 Triple-A games this season, posting a .299 clip with 11 doubles, three triples, two home runs, 30 RBI and 31 stolen bases in 35 attempts. The 25-year-old, who attended Virginia Tech, will replace Marisnick as the outfield call-up.

Though it was tough to part with Marisnick, he has been blocked by Marcell Ozuna in center field. Miami is also set in the corner outfield spots with Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton. In 54 big-league games since his call-up last July, Marisnick hit just .178 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and five RBI.

Marisnick was part of the 2012 blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"Still the same feeling, a little bit of surprise," Marisnisck said in teleconference. "You gotta kind of get a grasp of it, take in everything that’s happening. But yeah definitely being through it the first time was just kind of a whirlwind. I didn’t know how to take it. Just knowing that I’m gonna get an opportunity, it’s exciting."

Moran, once considered the third baseman of the future and last year’s sixth overall selection, was in Single-A Jupiter. Since leaving the University of North Carolina, the 21-year-old has hit .295 with 29 doubles, a triple, nine homers and 56 RBI in 131 games.

Martes was 2-1 with a 4.97 ERA with the Gulf Coast Marlins. The 18-year-old was signed last year out of the Dominican Republic. The Marlins also relinquished the competitive balance pick. Two months ago, it traded this year’s for right-handed reliever Bryan Morris.

"They’re all difficult and this one was definitely difficult because we gave up three pieces that we really like," Hill said of the trade.

But Miami entered Thursday 4 1/2 games back in the NL Wild Card race and six in the NL East having won nine of 11. For the first time in five years, the club was a buyer at the deadline.

Did the organization need to make a move to show fans, the community and even the players it had faith in what has been built?

"We’ve always said we’re just trying to get better," Hill said. "We know we believe in this club and clubhouse and we believe what they’re capable of doing. Jarred Cosart will help us win more games and to be a better ballclub and hopefully that winds up with a playoff spot.

"I think we were just trying to make the best deal for us and we were able to make a deal, but I don’t think as I told you yesterday — had we not made a deal I don’t think we would have thought any less of the ballclub and our belief in this club. Just meant that it didn’t work out. But we were very fortunate and happy with the pieces we were able to add."

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.