The Miami Marlins were the worst team in the National League, and the second worst team in all of baseball in 2013 with a 62-100 record. But after making some surprising offseason moves that did not receive much notoriety, the Marlins seem primed for a legitimate run at the postseason in 2014.
Did The Fish Make the Best Offseason Moves in 2013?
This question can be argued, but no doubt the team that made the best moves and pick ups were the New York Yankees. But there is a legitimate argument that the Marlins made the second best moves during the winter. They could also have made the best moves while having the least amount of money. One thing that seems for sure though is that with these moves, Jeffery Loria is tired of being a perennial last place team and is willing to finally break the bank a bit.
This offseason may have been the best in Marlins history. Yes, that includes the 2011 offseason where the Marlins picked up Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. The reason being is that the Marlins went out and got pieces that they actually needed without having to break the bank while in 2011, they just went after the biggest names on the market. Honestly, none of the moves made in 2011 were necessary besides possibly Heath Bell, but he never panned out. There was no use with Mark Buehrle because the Marlins had already had quite a decent pitching rotation in Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, and then ace, Josh Johnson. The Jose Reyes move may have actually been worst of all, as the Marlins had already had an All Star caliber shortstop of their own in Hanley Ramirez. Thus to make room for Reyes, Ramirez was moved to 3rd, which he was discontent with all season. The Marlins may have been trying to pull and Alex Rodriguez-Derek Jeter tandem there, but it was obvious from the start that it was not going to work.
The Marlins went out and decided to switch things up at first base. Logan Morrison has been injury plagued throughout his career. And although he is a fan favorite and has tons of potential, the Marlins decided that they were going to trade him. As a replacement, the Fish brought in Garrett Jones to take over the position. The Marlins say that Jones has been more consistent throughout his career. While this is true, Morrison hasn’t been able to show what he is truly made of because he has not played a full season. He still has that if factor. Jones, on the other hand, has just shown that he is nothing more than a reliable player that won’t get numbers anything higher than slightly above average. Morrison still has the potential to be the next big star in the Majors, and he has shown flashes of that. While the Marlins admit their was much more risk than reward in trading LoMo away, but they feel very confident in signing Jones for two years. The short contract also allows for the Marlins to develop someone in the Minors in the meantime, or possibly even use this time to develop Giancarlo Stanton as a first baseman.
Without a doubt, the worst production on offense for the Marlins came from the catcher and third base positions. Rob Brantly was supposed to become a star this year and solidify his position as catcher of the future, but he proved otherwise. Jeff Mathis was clearly one of the best leaders on the Marlins this year, and was an amazing catcher defensively, but he could not match his defensive numbers on offense. That is why the Marlins went out and made a great move signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a 3 year, 21 million dollar contract. While he isn’t all there defensively, he has proven that he is a great offensive catcher with great power. Plus, this signing should fair well with the fans as Saltalamacchia is a native South Floridian being from West Palm Beach and going to Royal Palm High School. This signing also seems very reminiscent of the John Buck signing a few years back, but Saltalamacchia should fair much better than Buck did with the Marlins.
On the third base side, the Marlins made due with what they were able to get. They had interest in Juan Uribe but he was asking for too much money. They also considered trading for Mark Trumbo or Will Middlebrooks, but they would have to give up their coveted pitching prospects, including lefty Andrew Heaney, who may end up actually being, believe it or not, better than Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez. The thought of that is insanely scary, and it is beyond understandable why the Marlins would not want to give up such valuable prospects. So with a free agent pool lacking third baseman, the Marlins went out and got arguably the best one in the market in Casey McGehee. He left the United States for a year and went to play in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. He had a career year and was a main key in the Golden Eagles’ path a a championship. After such a great year, there was no doubt it was time for him to come home. McGehee and the Marlins had mutual interest as they were in dire need of a third baseman, and McGehee felt he would fit in perfect into the Marlins situation. The signing gives much needed power on the notorious “hot corner”, as the Marlins had the worst home run production in all of baseball last year with utility journeyman Ed Lucas and Placido Polanco switching off at the position. The signing of McGehee allows the Marlins to platoon him with Garrett Jones at first, as Jones is notable for struggling with left handed pitching. During situations as these, either Lucas or Donovan Solano can man third. The Marlins signed McGehee for only a year, so this gives the Marlins highly touted third baseman prospect Colin Moran time to progress through the Minor Leagues.
The final free agent signing the Marlins made was signing star player Rafael Furcal. There is high risk with this signing as Furcal is just coming off of Tommy John Surgery, but the reward outweighs the risk. Furcal has been a star player all of his career, and the fact that the Marlins were able to sign him for so cheap is quite a surprise. In order to ease his arm, and to allow Gold Glove candidate Adeiny Hechavarria to develop at shortstop, the Marlins are assigning Rafael Furcal to play at second base. The Fish signed Furcal for only a year, which gives future star Derek Dietrich more than enough time to develop in the Minors, as he is nearly in Major League form, showing so last year with a hot start in relief for Donovan Solano.
In the trade for Logan Morrison, the Marlins received hard throwing reliever Carter Capps from the Seattle Mariners. Capps gives the Marlins flexibility that is much needed in the late innings of games. He has a few control problems, but the Marlins feel that they can easily kink these problems out. If Capps turns out to be as great of a deal the Marlins think he can be, he can easily become a setup man in the 8th inning for closer Steve Cishek, or possibly, if the usually consistent Cishek starts having his own trouble, become an option as closer for the Miami Marlins. The three-headed horse in the late innings of Cishek, Capps, and A.J. Ramos can be a great threat not just now, but for the long haul as well as the three are 27, 23, and 27, respectively.
The final major move the Marlins made this offseason was trading away Justin Ruggiano to the Chicago Cubs for Brian Bogusevic. This trade is essentially trading away Ruggiano, and getting another Ruggiano back. They have very similar numbers and Bogusevic is going to be nothing more than a reserve outfielder since the outfield is already loaded with probable starters Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Giancarlo Stanton, along with Jake Marisnick, a prospect who is noted for his great defense, but had a hard time transitioning to the Majors last year.
What Do All of These Moves Mean?
These moves mean that although they signed numerous veteran players this year, the short lengths of these contracts means that they still have faith in their youth and just want them to develop more before they make the permanent move to the Big Leagues. The moves also mean that the Marlins are keeping their word of contending for a spot in the postseason this year, and it is a definite possibility. With these shifts in the roster, the Marlins will be a threat in the National League for a while, long past the contracts of these new signees, as the Marlins have insane depth in their farm system in nearly every position. Be on the look out for the Marlins to make a full turnaround this year, nearly like the Boston Red Sox did themselves this year.