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Marlins Bullpen

Marlins Bullpen In Question as Opening Day Nears

The Miami Marlins posted a 6-4 record through their first 10 games of Grapefruit League play in 2022. The team’s focus on adding offense provided immediate dividends in Spring Training, evidenced by their plus-13 run differential. But as Opening Day approaches, questions linger regarding roster construction, specifically with the Marlins bullpen.

Miami’s Offseason Approach Focused on Lineup

Marlins majority owner Bruce Sherman announced prior to Spring Training: “We have money, and we will spend it.” That said, the Marlins still find themselves in the bottom-5 of the MLB in payroll for 2022.

But the fact is, Miami did spend this offseason. The current $67 million payroll is about $10 million more than 2021. The free-agent additions of Avisail Garcia and Jorge Soler cost $89 million. Extensions for Sandy Alcantara, Richard Bleier, and Miguel Rojas added another $72 million. Couple those moves with the $7.1 million assumed in the Jacob Stallings and Joey Wendle trades, and Miami’s on the hook for more than $168 million this offseason.

This much-improved lineup will no doubt help keep the Marlins competitive this season, but the lack of bullpen moves remains frustrating to fans.

Back in December, Marlins general manager Kim Ng admitted the bullpen was not the team’s primary focus and that the reliever market was typically slow to unfold.

But last Wednesday, Ng admitted “now we’re definitely focused on relievers” following the team’s signing of Soler. The remaining free-agent relievers, though, are underwhelming, and the team has yet to execute a trade to bolster the bullpen.

Last season, the Marlins bullpen sported a 3.81 ERA, seventh-lowest in MLB, and a 1.26 WHIP, eighth-lowest. And although Miami relief pitchers posted the sixth-fewest saves (33) in 2021, they registered the ninth-fewest blown saves (25). Many of those relievers have returned, but there’s not an established, high-leverage closer among them.

Miami is prepared to ride the early part of the season with what they have, opting for an offense-first approach (much like the Phillies).

Marlins Bullpen Remains in Question

Further complicating matters for the Fish, Dylan Floro, Miami’s closer last season, might not be ready for Opening Day after dealing with arm soreness.

An IL-stint to start the season may force the team’s hand in a trade, but it also likely signals Anthony Bender taking the closer role early on. Bender registered three saves last season, though he did blow two opportunities. The 27-year-old righty registered 12 holds and posted a 2.79 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP over 61.1 innings pitched.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s track record indicates he prefers players to have set roles, especially in the bullpen. But injuries and uncertainty may force his hand toward a closer-by-committee approach.

“I think we’re going to be more of a mix-and-match club,” Mattingly said recently when asked about save situations.

If that’s the case, Anthony Bass may get another turn as closer, too. Bass was brought in last season to anchor the backend of the bullpen but blew his first two save chances. Yimi Garcia took over, and Floro from there, once Garcia was traded to Houston. However, over Bass’ final 67 outings last season, he managed a 3.05 ERA, with 19 holds and only two blown saves.

Beyond those names, Bleier could get a turn if the opposing lineup is loaded with lefties. But he’s struggled this spring, giving up seven hits, including two homers, and six earned runs over 1.2 innings pitched. Other holdovers from last year’s Marlins bullpen include Steven Okert and Zach Pop.

Miami’s confident in its developmental system and is leaning toward internal options for their ‘pen. The team’s ability to groom Major League-caliber arms remains evident in its starting rotation, where four of the five projected starters all spent significant time in their system. But the Marlins bullpen is another matter.

The Other Names in Play

The Marlins added to their bullpen this offseason by trading for right-hander Louis Head from Tampa Bay. The 32-year-old reliever made his MLB debut in 2021, posting a 2.31 ERA over 35 innings out of Tampa’s ‘pen. Head has three appearances this spring, allowing one earned run over four innings.

Miami signed righty Jimmy Yacabonis to a minor league deal and there’s a chance he makes the club, too. Over 104 career MLB innings with the Orioles and Mariners, Yacabonis posted a 5.71 ERA. He’s made four appearances this spring, pitching to a 1.80 ERA over five innings.

Right-hander Huascar Brazoban also came on a minor league deal. The 32-year-old has yet to make his MLB debut, but he’s thrown four innings and allowed one run so far in Grapefruit League play.

Another minor league deal brought left-hander Grant Dayton. The 34-year-old has a 3.43 ERA over 102.1 MLB innings in his career. The Marlins drafted Dayton in the 11th round in 2010, and he spent five years in Miami’s system before being traded.

The Marlins like Shawn Armstrong, a non-roster invitee this spring who’s pitched 2.1 innings so far. He has no walks, two strikeouts, and is yet to give up a run over three appearances so far.

Miami claimed right-hander Tommy Nance from the Cubs this week, too. The 31-year-old made his MLB debut last season, posting a 7.22 ERA over 28.2 innings. Although he struggled for Chicago, Nance posted a 2.35 ERA over 15.1 innings, with a walk rate of just 5.3 percent at Triple-A.

25-year-old lefty Sean Guenther is also with the club this spring. He pitched with the Marlins late last season, posting a 9.30 ERA over 20.1 innings. Guenther’s made two appearances this spring, with no earned runs over two innings.

Filling Out the Marlins Bullpen

MLB and the players union agreed to a series of rule changes recently, including expanded rosters in April. Teams will have two extra spots following the abbreviated spring training. This should help the early-season workloads for pitchers. FanGraphs projects the Marlins to carry 15 pitchers coming out of spring.

With the extra roster spots, and considering the versatile utility players on their bench, the Marlins bullpen could get a couple more arms. Miami will more than likely need at least one long reliever in the mix, especially early on.

Paul Campbell, Daniel Castano, Braxton Garrett, and Cody Poteet all remain with the big club this spring, and all have MLB experience that could translate to the long reliever role. The Marlins optioned Nick Neidert to Triple-A Jacksonville recently, despite Neidert’s change to reliever.

Miami may opt to give one of those players the role, but if Edward Cabrera makes a bid for the starting rotation, the Marlins could move Elieser Hernandez to the bullpen.

The 23-year-old Cabrera threw three scoreless innings, with three strikeouts, in his Grapefruit League debut earlier this week. After being delayed to start the spring with a visa issue, Cabrera’s emerged as a darkhorse to open in the starting rotation.

Hernandez seems well-suited for long relief, considering the struggles he’s had the third time through an opponent’s order. Over his career, Hernandez sees his batting-average-against jump to .346, with an OPS of 1.185, when batters get a third plate appearance against him in the same game. Batters sport a .233 and .230 batting average in their first and second at-bats versus Hernandez.

Closing Thoughts

Floro struggled at times last season in high-leverage situations, as evidenced by his six blown saves. What’s more, he made 32 appearances last season in “save situations” and pitched to a 5.53 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP. In high-leverage situations, opposing batters hit .252 against him, with a .658 OPS. The Marlins are banking on his experience and overall effectiveness as a reliever (3.18 career ERA) to get them through.

Bender could be best suited for the closer role in the long run. Although it’s a small sample size, Bender pitched to a 1.10 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in save situations last season. His batting-average-against in that spot was .203.

Some scouts foresee 2020 first-round pick Max Meyer eventually becoming a reliever, maybe a closer, but the Marlins don’t see it that way. At least for now. Mattingly admitted Meyer could probably pitch out of the bullpen at this point, but the Marlins continue to groom him as a starter, a role he should thrive in for the Jumbo Shrimp with his solid three-pitch mix.

Adding an established closer (who performs well, obviously) puts this Marlins team in striking distance of the playoffs. Toss in an established centerfielder on top of that, and Miami’s a legitimate postseason contender.

Check Out Man On Second

Don’t miss Man On Second’s Early Spring Training Takeaways, including a discussion about the Marlins bullpen!

Marlins blockbuster trades

Marlins Blundering History with Blockbuster Trades

The Miami Marlins have long been negatively associated with the term ‘fire sale.’ Too often in the franchise’s history, ownership groups (yes, more than one) gutted a talented roster to save money. The team trafficked in hope with prospect packages, parting with players in their prime. The Marlins sabotaged local support by blundering these blockbuster trades throughout their history.

This week, the book closed on yet another blundered blockbuster. The Marlins designated Isan Diaz for assignment to open a roster spot for the newly signed slugger Jorge Soler. The Yelich deal stands among many failures for the Fish over the years.

There’s no singular reason behind Miami’s seeming inability to “win” these transactions, beyond bad luck and maybe misguided management. Some of the moves paid off in short bursts, but over time, most soured on them.

The Marlins find themselves on the cusp of contention once again and could be nearing another blockbuster trade. These days, Miami’s in a position to bring in the All-Star talent rather than part with it. But so far, the Marlins have balked at the cost of premium prospects demanded by other clubs. Given their blundering history with these deals, it’s easy to understand why.

Marlins First Foray into Blockbuster Trades

The first of (too) many blockbuster trades in Marlins history dates back to the club’s inaugural season. On June 24, 1993, the Marlins made their first in-season trade as a Major League franchise.

Florida acquired 24-year-old All-Star Gary Sheffield and left-handed pitcher Rich Rodriguez from the San Diego Padres. In exchange, Florida sent rookie reliever Trevor Hoffman, as well as minor league arms Andrés Berumen and José Martinez, to the Padres.

Marlins Return on the Trade

Sheffield’s impact with the Marlins was immediate. He became the early face of the franchise, thanks to his bat wag and long balls. He and closer Bryan Harvey were the team’s first-ever All-Stars.

Over parts of six seasons in Miami, Sheffield hit 122 home runs, with a .288 batting average and .970 OPS, and drove in 380 runs. He earned two All-Star berths and won a Silver Slugger. Most importantly, he helped the Marlins win the 1997 World Series.

This information alone seemingly tilts this blockbuster trade in the Marlins’ favor—that is, until you factor in Hoffman’s place among the all-time greats. No one could have predicted Hoffman’s Hall-of-Fame future, something Sheffield’s still waiting on (though he shouldn’t be). It’s not a clear win for the Fish, nor an abject failure.

Unforeseen Cost for the Fish

Hoffman came to the Marlins in the 1992 expansion draft. With the eighth pick, Florida plucked the relief pitcher from the Cincinnati Reds organization. He made the Marlins’ inaugural roster as a set-up man for Harvey. But after just three months (and his first two career saves), Hoffman became the centerpiece in the return package for the Padres.

San Diego put on a fire sale of their own in 1993, trading away Tony Fernandez and Darrin Jackson before dealing Sheffield. The Padres later dealt Fred McGriff and failed to sign draftees Todd Helton and Troy Glaus. They let catcher Benito Santiago go in free agency. (The four-time All-Star signed in Florida and started the franchise’s first game.) San Diego stopped short of trading Tony Gwynn.

New Padres general manager Randy Smith wanted Hoffman as part of the trade for Sheffield. Smith had come to the Padres from the Colorado Rockies, where he’d helped prep for the ’92 expansion draft where Florida had found Hoffman (Berumen and Martinez, too).

Then-Marlins GM Dave Dombrowski offered Berumen, Matt Whisenant, and Darrell Whitmore, but Smith insisted on Hoffman. Florida acquiesced, surrendering a reliever who’d been projected as a catcher in the pros and played shortstop and third base before transitioning to the bullpen.

Hoffman overcame changing positions, injuries, and diminished fastball velocity to become MLB’s all-time saves leader in 2006. With his “Bugs Bunny” changeup as an out-pitch, Hoffman helped San Diego make five playoff appearances, including a trip to the 1998 World Series.

Hoffman finished his career with 601 saves and seven All-Star berths, twice finishing runner-up for the NL Cy Young award. Mariano Rivera broke the career saves record in 2011, but Hoffman’s still No. 2 all-time. The nearest active closer (Craig Kimbrel) remains more than 200 saves away.

The Curious Case of Catcher Mike Piazza

People forget Mike Piazza’s five-game stopover in Miami during the summer of 1998, but it happened. (There’s video proof.) Following the ‘97 World Series championship, the Marlins front office celebrated with the first fire sale in franchise history.

That winter, Florida traded away Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Jeff Conine, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, and Devon White in a series of deals. For the Marlins, those not-quite blockbuster trades netted just A.J. Burnett, Derrek Lee, and (the original) Jesús Sánchez.

Florida started 13-28, then opted to continue the payroll purge. On May 14, 1998, the oddest of these Marlins blockbuster trades went down. Florida shipped a disgruntled Sheffield, as well as Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Jim Eisenreich, and Manuel Barrios to the Dodgers for Piazza and third baseman Todd Zeile. LA absorbed $83 million in salaries with the deal.

Piazza played a grand total of five games with Florida. He registered five hits and five RBI over 19 plate appearances before getting flipped to the New York Mets. The Marlins sought to shed even more payroll, having no intention of signing Piazza to an extension.

These blockbuster trades were part of a larger scheme involving TV rights and the franchise’s sale. According to then-Dodgers GM Fred Claire, Fox executives negotiated the trade hoping to incentivize then-Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga to sell them his controlling stake in SportsChannel Florida (now Bally Sports Florida), which he did in November of 1999.

On May 22, 1998, Florida traded Piazza to the New York Mets for outfielder Preston Wilson, and pitchers Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall. Zeile played 66 games with the Marlins in 1998 prior to a trade that sent him to the Texas Rangers for two minor league pitchers who never made it above A-ball.

Marlins Seed Next World Series with these Blockbuster Trades

For the Marlins, the blockbuster trades in 1997 and 1998 provided the team with the ammunition to make another World Series run in 2003. Burnett and Lee came in those deals, and the Marlins used pieces from the Piazza trade to land a few more. A look at the MLB Trade Trees website shows this move even branches to the 2022 starting rotation, leading to the acquisition of Pablo Lopez.

Wilson headlined the return for the Marlins in the Piazza trade with New York. Wilson proved to be a serviceable player for the Marlins, finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year running in 1999. Playing parts of five seasons in Miami, Wilson hit 104 homers, drove in 329 runs, and stole 87 bases for Florida.

On November 16, 2002, the Marlins traded Wilson with Vic Darensbourg, Charles Johnson (again), and Pablo Ozuna to the Colorado Rockies for Mike Hampton and Juan Pierre. That trade morphed into something of a three-deal deal involving the Atlanta Braves, who got Hampton two days later. The Marlins took on $30 million of Hampton’s salary but offloaded more than $50 million sending out Wilson and Johnson. The Marlins got Tim Spooneybarger from Atlanta and cash from Colorado.

As for Yarnall, he never pitched for the Marlins, but headlined a trade package to the New York Yankees in 1999. That deal landed Florida third baseman Mike Lowell. Goetz, meanwhile, never made it to the Majors despite being the No. 6 overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft.

The Worst of the Marlins Blockbuster Trades

The worst of the Marlins blockbuster trades over the years is the Miguel Cabrera deal. On December 4, 2007, Florida shipped Cabrera and another franchise-favorite, Dontrelle Willis, to Detroit for a package of prospects

The return included a pair of Top-10 prospects in outfielder Cameron Maybin and left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller. In addition, the Marlins received catcher Mike Rabelo, and right-handed pitchers Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, and Frankie De La Cruz.

Cabrera provided a spark as a rookie for the Marlins’ World Series-winning club in 2003. He ascended quickly, becoming one of the best hitters in baseball. All told, Cabrera played parts of five seasons with the Marlins and finished with four All-Star berths, 138 home runs, and 523 RBI. He slashed .313/.388/.542 with the Fish.

But the penny-pinching of Jeffery Loria and David Samson ultimately outweighed Cabrera’s (and Willis’) production. Cabrera made $7.4 million in 2007 and stood to make $11.3 million in 2008. That figure proved to be untenable for Loria and Co., so they looked to flip Cabrera while the star still had a few seasons of team control.

The Marlins tinkered with their roster following the 2003 World Series. The team had a budding star in Hanley Ramirez, who they’d acquired in the Beckett/Lowell trade with Boston in 2005. This mistakenly led the Marlins to feel Cabrera was expendable. The same was true with Willis, since the team felt comfortable proceeding with young arms in Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez.

Disastrous Return for Florida

Once Cabrera became available, teams offered the Marlins prospect-laden packages common in blockbuster trades. Negotiations pitted the Los Angeles Angels, Dodgers, and Tigers in a bidding war. From the Dodgers, the Marlins sought pre-arbitration prospects like Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, and James Loney.

Florida reportedly had an agreement with the Angels for Howie Kendrick, Ervin Santana, and Jeff Mathis. The team then approached Detroit, whose owner coveted Cabrera. Tigers (and former Marlins) GM Dave Dombrowski hoped to keep Detroit’s top prospects out of the deal but eventually came to terms once the trade expanded to include Willis.

Then-Marlins president David Samson admitted years later Florida lied to the Dodgers at that point, hoping to land Billingsley and Kershaw. LA didn’t bite, and the Marlins dealt with Detroit.

Despite being highly-touted prospects, both Maybin and Miller flopped with the Fish. Maybin struggled in his first stint, hitting .257 with 151 Ks over 144 games. He’d become a serviceable fourth outfielder, but not in Miami. He won the 2017 World Series with Houston.

Miller posted a 5.89 ERA over 58 games with the Marlins. The team traded Miller to Boston in 2010 for Dustin Richardson, who never pitched in Miami. Miller went on to be a two-time All-Star and win the 2016 ALCS MVP as a reliever in Cleveland.

Badenhop proved to be the best Marlin from this disaster. In four seasons with Florida, he posted a 4.34 ERA. Rabelo played 34 games in Miami, hitting .202. De La Cruz pitched in just six games with an 18.00 ERA. Trahern never made it to the bigs.

Cabrera, meanwhile, enters his 20th MLB season on the cusp of 3,000 hits, having hit more than 500 home runs. He’s a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer.


Marlins Move Off Stanton’s Contract

Once they agreed to a “landmark” 13-year, $325 million contract, Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins seemed destined for divorce. The onerous deal hung like an albatross on the franchise. So, when Loria sold the team to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter’s ownership group, it was only a matter of time before the club embarked on its latest fire sale.

On December 11, 2017, the Marlins completed another of these blockbuster trades, sending Stanton and cash to the Yankees. In exchange, Miami received infielder Starlin Castro, pitcher Jorge Guzman, and shortstop Jose Devers.

The Marlins cited a lack of organizational depth when shipping off the most productive player in franchise history. Stanton left Miami the career leader in over 15 statistical categories, including home runs (267) and RBI (672). He’s the only player in Marlins history to win NL MVP, doing so in 2017 when he hit a club-record 59 homers.

The player-return for Stanton paled in comparison to his production. Castro, who many assumed would be flipped in another deal, played two productive seasons in Miami before leaving in free agency. Guzman, who once ranked as high as No. 6 in the Marlins system, struggled to make the transition to the Majors (27.00 ERA in 2.2 IP) and is now in the San Francisco Giants system.

Devers came in as the No. 13 prospect for Miami and made his MLB debut last season. The 22-year-old slashed .244/.304/.317 with five RBI and seven runs scored. A shoulder injury sidelined him in July and he’s likely bound for Triple-A in 2022.

The true “win” for the Marlins with this, the most unpopular of the blockbuster trades, was monetary. The move nearly cleared the books for the new owners, with New York assuming about $250 million of Stanton’s contract.

Yelich Trade Ended Completely One-Sided

The same offseason in which the Marlins dealt away Stanton, Miami also shipped off another young slugger, Christian Yelich. While the Marlins had the budding star on a team-friendly contract, Yelich wanted no part of the rebuild. Publicly, the Marlins claimed they wouldn’t consider moving Yelich, or their other controllable young talents in Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto, but we all know how that turned out.

On January 25, 2018, a month after the Stanton deal, and after fielding offers from several teams, the Marlins dealt Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for several prized prospects. The headliner in the return package for Miami was one of baseball’s top prospects at the time, outfielder Lewis Brinson. A local product, Brinson was a consensus top-20 prospect, considered to have both a high floor and a high ceiling given his tools.

The other prospects in the deal were Isan Diaz, Monte Harrison, and Jordan Yamamoto. At the time, Harrison ranked No. 49 overall with Baseball Prospectus and No. 75 with Baseball America. Diaz checked in at No. 85 on Baseball Prospectus’ list. Yamamoto projected as a backend starter in the bigs.

At least a dozen teams were in on Yelich. The Marlins wanted Ronald Acuña Jr. from Atlanta, but the Braves declined. The other team that reportedly got close to a deal with Miami was the Toronto Blue Jays. But Toronto refused to include Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the return package.

The Marlins found themselves in a difficult position with Yelich in 2018. Although he was locked into a team-friendly deal, the relationship between Miami and Yelich had “soured” and was “irretrievably broken” following the latest fire sale.

Prospects Flop in Another of Marlins’ Failed Blockbuster Trades

Milwaukee presented a prospect package intriguing enough to the Marlins, despite their initial desire to keep Yelich. Miami couldn’t pry away top prospects from other teams but felt Brinson neared that level. Unfortunately for the Fish, he didn’t.

Over four unremarkable seasons, Brinson managed just a .203 batting average with 296 strikeouts over 1,056 plate appearances. Miami finally designated Brinson for assignment on November 30, 2021. The 27-year-old later signed a minor league deal with the Houston Astros.

Harrison never found his footing with the Marlins, either. He appeared in 41 games for Miami, hitting just .175 with a staggering 47 percent strikeout rate. Miami designated Harrison for assignment earlier this month after claiming 29-year-old Yoan López, a right-handed reliever, from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Yamamoto impressed in his initial run with the Marlins, posting a 1.59 ERA through his first six starts. But he flamed out after that. Yamamoto sported a 6.65 ERA over his final nine starts in 2019, then an 18.26 ERA over four games in 2020. Miami eventually traded Yamamoto to the Mets in 2021 for minor league infielder Federico Polanco.

Diaz once looked to be the Marlins’ second baseman of the future, winning the team’s 2019 Minor League Player of the Year award. He hit nearly 100 homers during his time in the minors and raked at Triple-A for the Fish. But that success at the plate never translated to the bigs.

Over parts of three seasons, Diaz posted a .185 batting average, striking out 139 times over 501 plate appearances. Miami designated the 25-year-old for assignment this week. Diaz peaked during his MLB debut, homering off Mets’ ace Jacob deGrom while his father was being interviewed on the TV broadcast.

The Marlins Other Blockbuster Trades

Considering this Marlins franchise has undergone three fire sales (with three different ownership groups), there’s no shortage of blockbuster trades. Over the years, Miami’s traded away an All-Star team, including two players in the Hall of Fame with more headed that way. In those fire sales, the Marlins made moves sending away notable players with the returns being hit-or-miss over the years.

The Beckett Trade

Following their first fire sale in 1998, the Marlins drafted Josh Beckett with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1999 amateur draft. They signed him that September and nearly two years to the day later, Beckett made his MLB debut. Beckett eventually became the staff ace and earned the 2003 World Series MVP after dominating the Yankees on short rest to win that championship.

But two years later, wanting to shed payroll again, the Marlins found a trade partner willing to take on cash. On November 24, 2005, they traded Beckett, Lowell, and Guillermo Mota, to the Red Sox. Florida received highly-touted shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez, and pitching prospects Jesús Delgado, Harvey Garcia, and Anibal Sánchez.

The kicker was Boston’s willingness to take on the $18 million owed to Lowell. That kept Beckett from going to the Texas Rangers, who offered All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock, one of their two top pitching prospects, Thomas Diamond or John Danks, as well as shortstop prospect Joaquin Arias.

This trade goes down as a “win” for both clubs, considering the cash savings and production for the Marlins and the 2007 championship Beckett and Lowell brought Boston. Beckett would become a three-time All-Star with the Red Sox, finishing second in the ’07 AL Cy Young voting. Lowell earned an All-Star berth and World Series MVP in ’07.

Ramirez went on to win NL Rookie of the Year in 2006 and became the best shortstop in baseball for a short period of time soon thereafter. Delgado and Garcia did little of note with the Marlins, but Sanchez proved valuable. Over parts of seven seasons in Miami, Sanchez posted a 44-45 record with a 3.75 ERA. On September 6, 2006, Sanchez threw one of six no-hitters in Marlins history.

The (Other) Hanley Trade

In 2007, the Marlins built around their budding star, Hanley Ramirez, at the expense of Miguel Cabrera. Ramirez would earn three All-Star berths and finished runner-up for NL MVP in 2009 after leading the league in hitting that season.

But the drop-off from those heights was precipitous. Ownership went all-in on the team entering their new ballpark but quickly pulled the plug in 2012. Ramirez, whose effort (and production) waned, grew disgruntled with his move to third base. He pouted and eventually found himself (and the remaining $37 million on his contract) shipped to the Dodgers

The Marlins sold low on Ramirez but the club had had hopes on contenting just as Ramirez’s play dropped off. Sending nearly $40 million to LA prevented a meaningful prospect return for Ramirez. Miami received pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. Eovaldi would eventually become an All-Star pitcher, just not for the Marlins. McGough pitched in six games for Miami in 2015, posting a 9.45 ERA. The Marlins waived him prior to the 2016 season.

This trade came two days after Miami dealt Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers for Rob BrantlyBrian Flynn, and Jacob Turner. This mini fire sale preceded a full roster tear down that winter.

Marlins Win the Ozuna Trade

Wins for the Marlins in blockbuster trades are rare, but this was one. Miami flirted with trading Marcell Ozuna in both 2015 and 2016, with owner Jeffery Loria reportedly having bad blood with Ozuna and his agent, Scott Boras, stemming from Ozuna’s demotion to Triple-A. Boras claimed that was done to stall Ozuna’s service time. Ozuna stayed with the Marlins thanks to backing from (then) new manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Barry Bonds. (Yes, that Barry Bonds.)

At least 10 teams showed interest in Ozuna those winters, with the Marlins making offers to both the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds. In 2015, the Marlins neared a deal to send Ozuna to the Seattle Mariners. Miami coveted right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker and had an interest in left-handers James Paxton and Roenis Elias.

Ozuna stayed though, becoming an All-Star in 2016 and 2017, winning both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in ’17 after hitting 37 homers with 124 RBI. The Marlins parlayed that success into a franchise-changing prospect package from the St. Louis Cardinals.

Just three days after the Stanton trade in 2017, the Marlins sent Ozuna to St. Louis for pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Daniel Castano, Zac Gallen, and outfielder Magneuris Sierra. Factor in the fact that Miami later flipped Gallen to Arizona for shortstop Jazz Chisholm Jr., this stands as the most successful swap to date.

At the time, Sierra was the highest-ranked prospect in the deal (No. 6), followed by Alcantara (No. 9), and Gallen (No. 14). Sierra never developed beyond his blazing speed, but Alcantara’s become one of the best starting pitchers in the NL. Even Castano’s been a serviceable starter at times, and flipping Gallen for Chisholm means the Marlins finally have their second baseman of the future.

The Realmuto Trade

The last of these blockbuster trades for the Marlins is the J.T. Realmuto deal. The young catcher also wanted out of Miami amid the fire sale in 2017, but he didn’t get his wish until two offseasons later. Coming off his first All-Star appearance and a Silver Slugger award, and with (more importantly) a lucrative contract extension looming, Realmuto finally got his ticket out of Miami.

The Marlins reportedly sought at least one high-end prospect, as well as a catcher with MLB experience. There was no shortage of suitors for Realmuto. The reported asking price for LA started at Cody Bellinger, then lowered to a prospect package including Gavin Lux, Trevor May, and either Keibert Ruiz or Will Smith.

On February 7, 2019, Miami sent Realmuto to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sánchez and Will Stewart, and international bonus slot money.

Jury’s Still Out On Sánchez

As the No. 27 overall prospect at the time, Sánchez headlined the return. The oft-injured starter appeared at the 2019 Futures Game for Miami and made an impressive MLB debut in 2020. But a right shoulder injury kept him from pitching in 2021. He’s still rehabbing from surgery and likely will start in Triple-A.

Alfaro proved serviceable if frustrating over his three years in Miami. He hit .252 in his Marlins career but struck out 289 times in 253 games. Alfaro had his moments, but never found the necessary consistency at the plate. The team tried changing his position in an effort to get his bat going, but even those efforts fell short. The Marlins dealt Alfaro to the San Diego Padres in December.

Stewart has struggled as a left-handed starter in the minors. He’s currently with the Major League team in Spring Training, with mixed results so far.

Realmuto, meanwhile, remains one of the top catchers in baseball. With the Phillies, he’s earned two more All-Star berths, a Gold Glove, and a Silver Slugger. Had Miami also pried third baseman Alec Bohm from the Phillies (they asked for him), Marlins fans might feel better about this one. Right now, the fate of this trade rests squarely on Sixto Sánchez’s shoulders.

Another Blockbuster on the Horizon?

The Marlins seem on the cusp of contention once again. Led by a strong starting staff, with exciting young offensive players in the mix, Miami could make a push for the postseason in 2022. But there are holes in this roster still, most notably, in center field and the bullpen.

Marlins general manager Kim Ng called acquiring “a center fielder who is an offensive threat” the team’s “primary objective.” After failing to re-sign Starling Marte this offseason, the Marlins pivoted to trade targets, including Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star center fielder Bryan Reynolds.

Talks reportedly stalled once the Pirates insisted upon Miami including both highly-touted prospects Max Meyer and Kahlil Watson in the deal.

The Marlins also had talks with the Oakland Athletics for outfielder Ramon Laureano, who still has 27 games remaining on his 80-game PED suspension from last season. The A’s reportedly had an interest in Marlins outfield prospect JJ Bleday and were willing to include relief help for Miami.

Trade discussions also took place between the Marlins and Toronto regarding their outfielder, Teoscar Hernández, but the Blue Jays made other moves instead.

It’s no surprise Miami would hesitate to trade away some of their more highly-rated prospects. For fans, considering the Marlins’ spotty history with these deals, there’s a level of PTSD. Sure, there’s a chance one of those prospects is eventually an All-Star, maybe even a Hall of Famer. But players like Reynolds are known commodities that can help this club win now and for the foreseeable future.

It’s time for the Marlins to try another one of these blockbuster trades.

Marlins Jorge Soler

Marlins Add Impact Bat with Jorge Soler

The Miami Marlins continued to add proven bats to their lineup for 2022. Over the weekend, the club came to an agreement with veteran slugger Jorge Soler on a three-year, $36 million deal. The eight-year, Cuban-born corner outfielder comes to Miami following his World Series MVP run with the Atlanta Braves.

The 2021 season found Miami mired near the bottom in most impact offensive categories. This offseason spending spree (by Marlins’ standards) goes a long way to addressing some of those failings. The addition of Soler, as well as those of Avisail Garcia, Jacob Stallings, and Joey Wendle, provides Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly options to consistently field a competent lineup.


Soler Provides Power to Marlins Lineup

Jorge Soler provides the punchless Marlins offense with some real power. The 30-year-old led the American League in home runs (48) in 2019 while playing with the Kansas City Royals. He helped propel the Braves to their World Series title last season, connecting on three blasts during the six-game series.

Soler struggled to start last season in Kansas City, but once he made it to the Braves, he broke out. With Atlanta, Soler slashed .269/.358/.524, with 14 homers and 33 RBI. In the World Series, he slashed .300/.391/.800 with those three homers. His performance earned him MVP, joining Marlins pitcher Livan Hernandez (1997) as the only Cuban-born winners of the honor.

His addition to the lineup can only improve last year’s results. Miami languished near the bottom in most offensive metrics. The Marlins ranked 29th in RBI (594), Runs (623), Slugging Percentage (.372), and OPS (.670). Miami finished 28th in Home Runs (158) and 27th in Doubles (226).

The Marlins signing of Jorge Soler continues an offseason push to add more pop at the plate. Prior to the lockout, Miami inked Garcia to a four-year, $53 million deal. Since the start of 2019, those two have combined to hit over 150 home runs.

Miami wasn’t the only team in on Soler, either. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand noted more than a half dozen teams showed interest, including the Braves, Padres, and Rockies. Soler becomes the 11th Cuban-born player in Marlins history and first outfielder. (10th, if don’t count RHP Yoan López who the team claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies last week.)

Marlins Might Not Be Done

Last Friday, Marlins general manager Kim Ng said the team still sought “a center fielder who is an offensive threat.” Ng called it the team’s “primary objective.” She noted they were ready to pivot toward “Plan B,” which apparently was the signing of Jorge Soler.

Jesus Sanchez now looks like the potential Opening Day centerfielder, flanked defensively by Soler in left and Garcia in right. That’s not to say the Marlins are done dealing, though.

Efforts to acquire Pirates centerfielder Bryan Reynolds seem to have stalled, with the Marlins balking at Pittsburgh’s asking price. According to Man On Second’s Joe Frisaro, the Marlins “weren’t planning on” trading either J.J. Bleday or Max Meyer in a package for Reynolds.

The teams could still circle around toward a deal, especially since Reynolds has reportedly turned down multiple extension offers from the Pirates. The Marlins have already made a trade with Pittsburgh this offseason, acquiring catcher Jacob Stallings in exchange for RHP Zach Thompson, and two of Miami’s Top-30 Prospects, RHP Kyle Nicolas (No. 16) and OF Connor Scott (No. 23).

With the lineup seemingly set, the Marlins should look to secure another high-leverage arm for the bullpen. At present, Dylan Floro and Anthony Bender stand as Miami’s primary options at closer.

Floro pitched well last season, posting a 2.81 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, with 15 saves (all coming after the July trade of Yimi Garcia). He did have six blown saves, though. Bender posted a 2.79 ERA and 1.06 WHIP, with three saves and two blown saves as a rookie.

Some interesting names remain among free-agent relievers, including several former Marlins. Miami could turn to the trade market here once again, maybe for someone like White Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel, who’s in a suddenly crowded bullpen in Chicago.

More on Marlins Signing of Jorge Soler

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Five Possibilities for Marlins spring training

The Marlins are one of the MLB’s most interesting franchises. Founded in 1993, they’re a young team. They’ve never won a division title and seen the league’s fewest playoff appearances with three total. Even so, they’ve got two World Series titles to their name, and one accounts for the MLB’s only championship-winning Wild Card berth.

Needless to say, it’s been an interesting run for baseball fans in Miami. In the past few years, the Marlins have sought to rebuild their roster from the ground up. Rather than sign on trusty senior players, Don Mattingly and franchise execs are looking to revitalize the squad with up-and-coming players. 

Though it’s been slow going, the team’s roster heading towards 2021’s Opening Day has depth, talent, and more than a few possible stars. As the Marlins cruise through Spring Training in Jupiter with the Cards, fans and pundits alike have their eyes on the Fish.

Each year, Spring Training gives fans the opportunity to size up their own team along with divisional competition. League experts who provide analysis on MLB betting odds rely on a team’s performance in Spring Training to gauge how rosters will be constructed heading into the regular season.

Meanwhile, on the diamond, rookies battle against each other to make it onto a team’s final 26-man roster. Though not official games, Spring Training can be some of the most high-pressure games for certain players looking to graduate from a team’s farming system, like the Marlins’ Sixto Sánchez and Trevor Rogers.


Elieser Hernandez pitching against the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 2021 Spring Training. Picture by Alejandro Villegas


Chisolm or Díaz Take Second

With solid moves in the off-season that have left the Marlins with a nearly-set roster, this year’s battle for second base is the franchise’s most hotly-contested position. Both prospects, Jazz Chisolm and Isan Díaz, the latter of which is coming off a groin injury from 2020. 

With both players plenty comfortable in the field, it’s their batting records that will likely decide who ends up on second. Though there’s also been some movement from Jon Berti, pundits and fans seem to lean on Díaz as a final candidate on the roster. 

Though only 24, Díaz has more experience than Chisolm has a (slightly) better record at-bat, and is a strong, reliable player. Given the Marlins’ need for a stronger offense, the verdict is likely to land with Díaz on second, Chisolm back in Triple-A for another season, and Berti floating around as a utility player. 


Isan Diaz at Clover Park in the 2021 Spring Training. Picture by Alejandro Villegas



Rogers or Neidert Take the Mound

With 39 pitchers on their list, the Marlins don’t have an empty mound by any stretch of the imagination. But with senior talent José Ureña gone, Sandy Alcantara will be the starting pitcher, with relievers Pablo López, Sixto Sánchez, and Eleiser Hernandez jockeying behind him.

That leaves a fifth position open for a newcomer.

At the moment, pundits have their eye on Trevor Rogers and Nick Neidert to inch into the starting rotation. Though Rogers’ ERA isn’t anything to write home about at 6.11, his strikeout stats show a promising future on the mound.

However, Neidert has experience on the mound after a few appearances in 2020. Given he was already in a bullpen role last season, Neidert is the stronger candidate—though Rogers is likely to graduate from Triple-A soon.


Aguilar Takes First Base

Between Jesús Aguilar and Garrett Cooper, the obvious candidate for the first base starter is Aguilar. He’s consistent and hasn’t struggled with injuries since entering the major leagues like Cooper.

With Adam Duvall, recently signed to the Marlins, heading for the outfield, it’s likely Cooper will serve as Aguilar’s backup—though some would prefer to see him as an all-around utility player and boost at the plate. The only issue is Cooper’s ongoing health concerns. 

Should he manage to go through the 2021 season without any barring injuries, he could find a more permanent place with the Marlins. However, at age 30, Cooper is running out of time to find his rhythm—especially as the Marlins look to revitalize their roster for a long-haul run in the east division.



Marlins Rule 5

Marlins Active During Rule 5 Draft

The Miami Marlins front office has remained largely quiet so far this offseason, but that changed during Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. The Marlins added five players to the organization but also saw a player plucked from their minor league system.

Miami has a long history of activity in the Rule 5 Draft, with some significant successes. Many of the players who’ve been drafted in this setup don’t make much of a difference. However, 33 All-Stars have been selected during this process over the years, as well as one Hall of Famer (Roberto Clemente).

Marlins Land Two Pitchers in Rule 5 Draft

The Marlins held the No. 13 overall selection in this year’s Rule 5 draft and chose right-handed pitcher Paul Campbell from the Tampa Bay Rays. Miami also added reliever Zach Pop in a draft-day trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Campbell comes to Miami with the potential to make an immediate impact as a long reliever and spot starter. Rated the Rays’ No. 24 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Campbell sports high spin rates on his fastball, curveball and slider. His fastball sits at 92-95 mph with cut action and he has good command.

For his career, Campbell registers a 3.12 ERA with 188 strikeouts, allowing opponents to hit just .231 against him.

The Marlins picked up Pop from Arizona in exchange for the infamous player-to-be-named-later. Pop actually comes from the Baltimore Orioles’ system, as the Diamondbacks selected him with the No. 6 pick in Thursday’s draft. Pop made his way to Baltimore as part of the Manny Machado trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years ago.

Pop underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 but profiles as a potential closer. When healthy, his arsenal includes an upper-90s sinker and a plus slider. His fastball clocked at mid-to-upper 90s prior to his surgery.

In limited opportunities due to injury, Pop piled up 80 strikeouts over 80.1 IP. He’s registered eight saves in 11 opportunities and sports a 1.34 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP.

There’s high upside for both of these pitchers. If they can reach their potential, both will be significant upgrades for the Marlins bullpen. These additions complete Miami’s 40-man roster, but that will not prevent the team from being engaged in both the free agent and trade markets.

Minor League Additions (and Subtraction)

The Marlins remained active during the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft as well, which is set up in a similar way to the MLB phase. If a player is picked from Double-A, they move to Triple-A. Single-A players move to Double-A with their new club.

Miami selected three players during this phase. They nabbed LHP Jake Fishman from the Blue Jays, RHP Dylan Bice from the Rangers and INF Marcus Chiu from the Dodgers.

Fishman might be the best of the three picks. He’s a low-slot lefty reliever with some starting experience. At 6-foot-3, the 25-year-old’s awkward angle and horizontal movement of his fastball make him an interesting prospect. He figures to be a Triple-A reliever in 2021, but could see a promotion during the season.

Bice is a 23-year-old hard-throwing reliever who hasn’t pitched above Single-A. Chiu is a 23-year-old utility infielder with some power but who hit just .215 at High-A in 2019.

The Marlins lost right-handed reliever Brett Graves during the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. Interestingly, Oakland picked Graves from the Marlins three years after Miami took him from the A’s in the 2017 Rule 5 draft.

Injury issues stalled Graves’ development with the Fish. He made 21 appearances for the Marlins in 2018. He registered 21 strikeouts over 33.1 innings pitched and notched one win, one loss and one save along the way. Graves spent 2019 between Double-A and Triple-A, and wasn’t part of Miami’s 60-man player pool in 2020.

Marlins Rule 5 History

The Marlins have had some success in the past during the Rule 5 draft. The team nabbed Dan Uggla from Arizona in 2005. Uggla put up some gaudy numbers for the Marlins over his five-year run with the Fish and remains Top-10 in 30 offensive statistical categories for the franchise. He’s No. 2 all-time in home runs (154) and strikeouts (760), and No. 6 in RBI (465).

In 2013, the Marlins selected Justin Bour from the Chicago Cubs during the minor league phase of the draft. Bour went on to parts of play five seasons with the Fish, hitting 83 homers, 63 doubles and driving in 272 runs. In 2017, the Marlins added Elieser Hernandez from the Astros and he pitched very well for the Fish in 2020.

Last year, the Marlins selected RHP Sterling Sharp from the Nationals, but ultimately returned the reliever to Washington after an unsuccessful stint.

Interestingly, the Marlins were also involved in the Rule 5 selection of two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. In 2000, the Astros left Santana off of their 40-man roster and the Marlins, who held the No. 2 pick that year, selected the future star.

The Marlins then flipped Santana to the Minnesota Twins in what was later deemed a prearranged draft-day deal. The Marlins received minor leaguer in Jared Camp, who the Twins had taken with the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 draft that year, and $50,000. Camp didn’t make the Marlins Opening Day roster that year and was ultimately returned to the Cleveland Indians. Santana, meanwhile, went one to be a four-time All-Star and won the AL Cy Young in 2004 and 2006.

Marlins offseason

Marlins Moves This Offseason

MLB’s offseason begins far quieter than that of the NBA. While basketball fans see a flurry of moves come the moment free agents can agree with new teams, baseball moves at a much slower pace. Although teams have been able to sign free agents for weeks, only a handful have done so. The Marlins started this offseason by bringing in a new GM, and this week, Kim Ng finally started making moves.

Marlins Offseason Starts with a Trade

On Monday, the Marlins acquired right-hander Adam Cimber from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. In 152 career MLB appearances, Cimber posts a 3.89 ERA with 104 strikeouts and 38 walks over 136.1 innings pitched.

Cimber, 30, works as a sidearm hurler and provides Miami with a unique look out of the bullpen. Although his fastball only averages around 86 mph, he’s generated good results as an MLB reliever, including posting a 3.97 ERA and 3.99 FIP with a 52.4 percent groundball rate and a 1.59 BB/9 in 2020.

New Marlins GM Kim Ng noted Cimber’s “very unorthodox delivery” during her media availability on Thursday morning. She also said: “He’s just a really difficult guy to prepare for as a hitter. That was one of the very attractive things that we found out about him.”

The Indians will receive $100K, according to the Associated Press. That figure matches what a team would fork over when making a Rule 5 selection. This implies the Marlins are looking to build out the bullpen with veteran MLB arms instead of looking for a diamond in the rough.

“We need some help back there,” Ng said of the bullpen.

Last season, Miami made right-handed reliever Sterling Sharp a Rule 5 pick to little avail. Sharp pitched in four games for the Fish, going 0-0 with a 10.13 ERA over 5.1 innings with three strikeouts. He was returned to the Nationals and ultimately assigned to their Triple-A affiliate.

Marlins DFA Jose Urena

To make room for Cimber, the Marlins designated right-hander Jose Urena for assignment. The longest tenured Marlin on the roster, Urena’s time with the Fish comes to an end with mixed results. The Opening Day starter in both 2018 and 2019, Urena never found the consistency needed to perform at the highest levels. He was certainly miscast as an Ace.

In 2020, Urena, 29, resumed his role as a starter after an ill-fated run as a reliever in 2019. He posted a 5.40 ERA and 6.06 FIP with 5.79 K/9 and 5.01 BB/9 rates over 23.1 innings. His season ended painfully when he suffered a fractured right forearm at the end of September.

Urena proved to be an innings-eater from 2017 through 2018, but never developed beyond that. He’ll be most remembered for his clashes with Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. The Marlins elected to cut ties with Urena rather than pay the expected $4 million price tag for him.

Marlins Offseason: Non-Tender Deadline Signings

The Marlins made additional moves on Wednesday at MLB’s non-tender deadline. The team surprised some by inking both first basemen, Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper, to new contracts. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Universal DH for 2021, the Marlins elected to bring back a player in Aguilar deemed be a leader on last year’s club.

Aguilar hit .277 in 2020, with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 34 RBI over 188 at-bats. His infectious attitude and joy seemed to help spark the young group last season. It was a solid bounce-back for Aguilar after a subpar 2019 landed him on the waiver wire in Tampa Bay. Aguilar’s $4.35 million one-year deal includes a $150K bonus for plate appearances.

Cooper, meanwhile, took over as the team’s main first basemen through the playoffs. After his stint on the injured list while dealing with COVID, Cooper returned to hit .283 with eight doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI over 120 at-bats. His clutch home run in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Chicago Cubs helped propel the Marlins into the NLDS.

Cooper’s injury history earned him some doubters along the way, including Marlins manager Don Mattingly, but he seemed to overcome those this season. That said, his $1.8 million one-year deal includes plate-appearance bonuses that could push his earnings to over $2 million.

No Real Non-Tender Surprises

The Marlins agreed to tender contracts to most of the eligible players on their list. Among them: third baseman Brian Anderson, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and relievers Cimber, Richard Bleier and Yimi Garcia.

The only player to be non-tendered by the team was reliever Ryne Stanek. The Marlins acquired Stanek in a 2019 trade deadline deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. Miami shipped reliever Nick Anderson and right-hander Trevor Richards to the Rays for Stanek and outfield prospect Jesús Sanchez. Unfortunately for the Fish, if Sanchez doesn’t become a frontline player, that seems like a lost deal.

Stanek came to the Marlins as a potential closer, but he never seemed to overcome injury issues. In 31 appearances for Miami, he posted a 6.03 ERA, allowing 21 earned runs over 31.1 innings. He registered 39 strikeouts and 27 walks, a 1.76 WHIP.

No Extension for Andy

The Marlins tendered a contract to Anderson Wednesday but not a long-term deal. MLB Trade Rumors projects Miami’s 27-year-old third baseman to earn somewhere between $2.2 and $4.2 million.

Anderson anchored Miami’s lineup for much of 2020. He played 59 of the 60 games and put up a .255 batting average with seven doubles, 11 home runs and 38 RBI in 200 at-bats. His sterling defense at the hot corner saw him earn a spot as a finalist for the Gold Glove at third. For his career, Anderson sports a .266 batting average with 42 home runs and 177 RBI.

“I personally would like to see how this year goes before we venture down that road, so I have a better understanding of who he is as a player and get a better sense of the situation,” Marlins GM Kim Ng said Thursday.

Other Marlins Offseason Tidbits from Ng

  • Ng noted the Marlins top offseason priority will be the bullpen. Miami’s added Cimber, but lost Stanek, as well as former closer Brandon Kintzler and late-inning reliever Brad Boxberger.
  • Ng said the Marlins will have an open competition at second base, pitting Isan Diaz and Jazz Chisholm against one another. The team isn’t beyond adding another player to this competition for the spring.
  • Ng also mentioned the team will look to add another bat to the lineup.

Don’t miss the latest Marlins Report episode on the Five Reasons Sports YouTube Channel! Check it out below!

Marlins offseason

Marlins Offseason Primer

Miami made history last week with the hiring of Kim Ng to fill their open general manager position. Ng arrives with an extensive and impressive resume. She’s earned her spot atop a front office with 30 years of experience. Now, she helms the Marlins as they move into a pivotal offseason.

The Marlins fast-forwarded the timeline of their rebuild last season by crashing MLB’s postseason. After finishing 31-29, Miami swept the Cubs in the Wild Card Round to advance to the NLDS. But a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Braves laid bare clear deficiencies on their roster.

Here’s a look at what Ng, Derek Jeter and the Marlins need to consider this offseason to build on last season’s successes.

Marlins Offseason: Sort out the 40-man Roster

Step one for Ng and Co may very well be sorting out the 40-man roster. As it stands this week, Miami’s 40-man remains loaded with pitchers (21). 17 position players fill out the remainder of the list. None of those players are expected to be removed from the 40-man roster, which has two open slots.

Why does this matter? The Rule-5 Draft. Minor leaguers who have exceeded a threshold of service time within an organization must be added to their team’s 40-man roster by November 20th or else teams risk them being poached by other clubs in the Rule 5 Draft.

SS José Devers, OF Jerar Encarnación and LHP Will Stewart stand among the prospects that need to be added to the 40-man or risk being lost in the draft. That’s at least three players for just two available spots at present. Something’s gotta give.

Miami has had success with Rule 5 in the past, like poaching Elieser Hernandez from the Astros in 2017. In 2013, the Marlins landed Justin Bour from the Cubs in the minor league phase of the draft. The club’s biggest success in the Rule 5 draft remains picking Dan Uggla from the Diamondbacks in 2005.

In 2019, the Marlins selected Sterling Sharp from Washington, but eventually returned the reliever to the Nationals after an unsuccessful stint with the club.

Offensive Needs

The Marlins surprised many with their resilient play and postseason push in 2020. Many of the talented young prospects got their first taste of MLB competition. Miami saw 18 players make their MLB debuts in 2020. While much of that came out of necessity after the COVID-19 outbreak, some of those players proved ready to contribute at baseball’s highest level.

That said, there remain clear deficiencies on this roster. Ng could turn to the trade market to address some of these issues, but others can be solved by signing free agents.

The Marlins offense sputtered at times last season. The finished 2020 23rd in runs-per-game, averaging 4.23 per contest. While a marked improvement on their 2019 figure (3.80), runs-per-game still needs to be closer to 5.0 to be considered a high-octane offense.

It wasn’t just run scoring where Miami lagged. The team managed a middle-of-the-pack batting average (.244) and on-base percentage (.319), ranked 17th for both. They struggled with slugging percentage (.384), coming in at 25th in MLB.

Home runs were also difficult to come by. Miami’s 60 homers in 2020 were also just 25th in baseball. The connected on 0.98 homers-per-game (26th), a number that slightly improved upon 2019’s 0.90 rate (30th).

What this means is, Ng and the Marlins front office need to consider adding a bat or two this offseason.

Marlins Players with Much to Prove

The lack of faith in Jorge Alfaro during the postseason indicated that catcher could be an offseason focus. Chad Wallach can’t be the everyday catcher for a playoff contender.

Another position of need could be second base. The Marlins hoped Isan Diaz would be the answer there, but the young slugger struggled to find consistency. Diaz underwhelmed in 2019, then lost much of 2020 to a brief opt out and eventual injury.

Jazz Chisholm performed well in moments during 2020 and remained the most productive of the positional prospects that got run last season. Although acquired as a shortstop, Chisholm could take second base.

The Marlins would do well though to add another middle infielder to the mix. They don’t have to focus on a single position, considering Miguel Rojas’s versatility.

The other position that could use an upgrade is corner outfield. Corey Dickerson underwhelmed in his first season with the Fish and right field was a turnstile throughout the season. Although the team expects Harold Ramirez to return from his leg injury, there’s still a clear need for a power bat in the middle of this lineup.

Pitching Needs

The strength of Miami’s team last season came from the pitching staff. The starting rotation, once fully healthy after the COVID outbreak, stood as a potentially elite grouping. Heading into 2020, the Marlins top arms include Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez and Sixto Sanchez.

In 2020, the Marlins came in 21st with a team ERA of 4.86. Roster turnover warped that figure though, as Miami pressed a number of young arms into service before they were ready for MLB hitting. The starters fared better, with a 4.31 ERA (14th), but even that number is skewed.

Combining Alcantara, Lopez, Hernandez and Sanchez’s numbers in 2020 would yield a 3.34 ERA. That would’ve been the third-lowest starter ERA in MLB last season.

But Miami can’t throw just four arms in a season, so they’ll need some help in the rotation. José Ureña is the club’s longest tenured player, but he could be released. Daniel Castano pitched admirably at times, but he could use more seasoning at the Triple-A level.

This means the Marlins could use at least one veteran starter this offseason. Someone who can eat innings and bridge the gap to the frontend of the rotation.

The Marlins also need help in the backend of the bullpen. The Marlins declined closer Brandon Kintzler’s $4 million option and saw Brad Boxberger hit free agency. Yimi Garcia returns for 2020, but Miami definitely needs to add at least one more high-leverage arm to a bullpen that posted a collective 5.50 ERA in 2020 (26th).

Marlins Offseason Options

The Marlins’ new GM has her work cut out for her in free agency. While there’s the possibility of adding someone like Francisco Lindor via trade, the club will more likely look to add a few pieces to reasonable deals.

Former Marlin J.T. Realmuto tops the free agent list this season, but he might be looking for more money than Miami is willing to offer. Former White Sox catcher James McCann may be a more realistic target for the Fish, but even he could be expensive. McCann has hit .276 with 25 home runs and 75 RBI in 149 games over the last two seasons. He’s considered one of the best pitch framers in the business.

Another catching option could be Tampa Bay Ray’s Mike Zunino.

For the middle infield, Miami’s options expand somewhat. At second base, DJ LeMahieu may be too pricey, but former Athletic Tommy La Stella or former Cardinal Kolten Wong could be signed. Former Dodger (and Marlin) Enrique ‘Kike’ Hernandez would provide a versatile utility veteran, as well.

If they’re in the market for a shortstop, Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien head that list. Andrelton Simmons and Freddy Galvis could be options as well.

As far as a power bat for either the corner outfield or designated hitter slot, Miami may seek a reunion with Marcell Ozuna. If he proves to be too expensive, perhaps Michael Brantley or Nelson Cruz could be inked. Other names here include Jay Bruce, Brett Gardner and Joc Pederson.

Pitching Options

For the starting staff, Miami may turn to a World Series veteran like Charlie Morton. It’s unlikely they’ll be in the running for someone like Trevor Bauer, but taking a flyer on left-hander James Paxton could be interesting. Mike Minor and Jake Odorizzi are also talented, playoff-experienced options.

The bullpen market remains robust, so the Marlins have plenty of options there. Liam Hendricks may prove to be too pricey for the Fish, but maybe someone like Trevor May or Trevor Rosenthal could be added. Former Marlin Brad Hand is coming off a great season with the Indians. Former Padres closer Kirby Yates could be an interesting addition as well.

A best-case scenario could see the Marlins add a catcher (Realmuto or McCann) and difference-making bat to the middle of the order (Ozuna or Lindor), as well as a middle infielder (Semein or Hernandez). They’d also land high-leverage relievers (Rosenthal and Yates) and at least one starter (Odorizzi or Paxton).

Marlins Payroll & Arbitration

It will be interesting to see if this augmented front office elects to increase the team’s payroll. Miami may have a new TV deal in the works, and could use the naming rights to Marlins Park for another revenue stream. In 2020, the Marlins sported the third-lowest pro-rated payroll in MLB at $28.5 million. That was in line with their 2019 approach, which saw the Marlins payroll come in at $71.2 million, the second-lowest in baseball.

It remains to be seen what Ng and the Marlins will do from a payroll stand point. At present, Starling Marte leads the club with a $12.5 million salary. Dickerson is on the books for $9.5 million. Rojas comes in at $5 million.

From there, the Marlins  have eight players who are arbitration eligible: Jesus Aguilar, Alfaro, Brian Anderson, Richard Bleier, Garrett Cooper, Garcia, Ryne Stanek and Urena. Most of these players would be in line for a raise from their 2020 salaries.

The Marlins have until December 2 to decide whether or not to tender them contracts. The team could (and probably should) consider extensions for players like Anderson and Cooper, at the very least. Aguilar, meanwhile, may have to wait to see if the National League gets to use the Designated Hitter moving forward. If so, he’s likely to have a role. If not, given Cooper’s play and Lewin Diaz being on the cusp, Aguilar may be jettisoned.

Miami’s payroll should be north of $62 million for 2021. And if the team gets new TV deal and sells the naming rights to Marlins Park, it could be much higher than that.

Marlins free agent

Top 5 Free Agent Targets For Miami Marlins

It’s no surprise coming off an incredible 60-game season which saw the Marlins make their first postseason appearance in 17 years (and win a playoff series at that) amid a COVID-19 outbreak which ravaged the roster three games into the season that Jeter and Co. are looking to build upon their 2020 success. This starts when the Marlins turn to the free agent market.

This process really began with the monumental hiring of Kim Ng as the team’s next general manager, marking the first time that a woman had been named GM of any North American professional sports team. Further, it is the first time that a Asian-American has held the role, breaking a barrier that had stunted the success of women and minorities in sports while giving new hope and inspiration to girls from all different ethnicities and walks of life interested in a high-level career in sports.

This, however, does not mark the end of the offseason for the Fish. It’s only the beginning. With a seemingly minuscule payroll relative to the rest of the league at $46 million and an ownership group which has made it clear that they’re willing to spend appropriately, there are several aspects of the Major League roster that could be improved upon via free agent additions to make the club even better heading into the 2021 season. 

Today, we’ll take a look at the top five free agent targets for the Marlins this offseason.

Marlins Free Agent Target No. 5: Michael Brantley, OF/DH

The Fish’s depth chart in the outfield is, crowded, to say the least. Despite this, the team had a combined bWAR of 0.4 in the outfield in 2020, due to struggles from rookie Monte Harrison and a lack of production from veteran left fielder Corey Dickerson. Though the Marlins have many prospects on the horizon awaiting their ability to contribute at the highest level and impact player Starling Marte manning center, the Fish still lack a consistent, everyday hitter. Enter: Michael Brantley.

Brantley has swung the bat well everywhere he’s been. He posts a career 116 OPS-plus while bringing solid power numbers and a high average to the table. Unlike Dickerson, Brantley is an above-average left fielder. He had one of the highest DRS (defensive-runs-saved) totals of any left-fielder in the truncated 2020 season with five. Adding a professional bat into the lineup who wouldn’t be a liability in the outfield while providing DH flexibility (assuming the DH stays in the National League in 2021) could provide the Marlins a substantially better offense.

Drawbacks to Adding Brantley

However, there are several downsides to this signing. As stated, the Marlins have MANY outfield options. Dickerson, Lewis Brinson, Harrison, Jesus Sanchez, Magneuris Sierra, and JJ Bleday are all assured or competing for a spot. If Brantley is signed with the intentions of him DH’ing, what does that mean for Garrett Cooper or Jesus Aguilar?

With Aguilar coming off a resurgent year and Cooper cementing himself as a legitimate threat in the lineup, only one of the two can play first base at a time. That leaves the other on the bench if Brantley is the DH. This wouldn’t bode well for the Marlins, as they could see a drop off in production in the two if they were not playing every day, which they should be. The two combined were 25 percent better than the average major league hitter (a .125 OPS-plus).

My conclusion is this. With the logjam of outfielders and lack of a spot for him, the Fish shouldn’t consider talks with Brantley. That is, unless one or multiple pieces at either first base or outfield are moved to make room for him. If this occurs, then the enticing upside of the left-fielder may reel Ng and Jeter into pushing for a deal.

Free Agent Target No. 4 Tommy La Stella, 2B

After the departure of Starlin Castro via free agency in the 2019 offseason, it was all but given that former top prospect Isan Diaz would run away with the starting second base role. However, a pandemic halted any of these talks. Diaz, who had presumably won the role during the summer camp ramp-up before the season, made the tough decision to opt-out of 2020 play. He cited concern over the virus for his and his family’s sake.

This led Jonathan Villar (among many others) to play the position when play resumed. Villar was traded to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline, leading to speculation as to who would man the spot. Soon thereafter, Isan opted back into the season to play the remainder of the year with the Fish. As exciting as this was, it did not provide many results. He slashed .182/.182/.182 in seven games before going out with a groin injury, ending his season.

Top prospect Jazz Chisholm split time with utility man Jon Berti after this, though it’s possible Jazz was rushed to the bigs, as he posted a .161/.242/.321 slash line in his cup of coffee. 

Adding La Stella

This lack of production, aside from Berti, who has provided consistent offense, speed, and defense during his tenure, though does not fit into the Marlins’ future plans at age 30, leads to questions about Diaz and Chisholm’s actual readiness for the big leagues, and raises questions as to whether or not the duo should start 2021 with the team’s Triple-A affiliate. If this is in Ng’s plans, she may seek a stopgap at the position, whether to split time with Berti or to play there every day. This stopgap could be Tommy La Stella.

La Stella would be a nice fit in Miami as a left-handed infielder with positional flexibility and consistent contact. (27 walks to only 12 strikeouts in 2020.) He improved his power numbers (slugging percentage of .486 and .449 in 2019 and 2020 compared to .331 in 2018). La Stella could either split time with Berti (La Stella is a .303 hitter vs righties compared to a  .216 one vs lefties). Or play there every day until Isan or Jazz proves they’re ready for the highest level. At that point, La Stella could be flipped for more prospect depth at the deadline.

Potential Negatives to La Stella

A negative facet to this signing is similar to that of the proposed Brantley one, heavy depth at the position. With unofficial captain Miguel Rojas holding down the fort at shortstop in 2021, Chisholm and Diaz are both competing for the job at second. This leads to a possibility that one or the other show they are ultimately ready for the position during spring training. Even 21-year-old Jose Devers could be in the mix. He was added to the team’s taxi squad during their postseason run despite never playing above class A-advanced in the minors.

This leaves La Stella in a tough spot if he is signed. He can’t play third because of Brian Anderson. First base remains loaded with major league depth, and second may not garner much playing time either. Not even a DH role would be guaranteed. Inking La Stella to a deal is useless if he doesn’t play every day.

With a contract I expect will demand upwards of $7-million, signing La Stella to a one-year deal would speak lengths as to where the organization feels Isan and Jazz are. He would most likely be their placeholder until one is ready. Otherwise, a diminished role is a moot utilization of the 31-year-old veteran.

Marlins Free Agent Taget No. 3: James McCann, C

Perhaps the most important position to address, the Marlins did not see much production at all from two of their top three catchers in 2020. Aside from Francisco Cervelli (who has retired), the Marlins’ two other catchers on the roster from Opening Day on were not very valuable behind the dish.

Jorge Alfaro, the team’s immediate catcher of the future after trading J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies in 2019, has seemed to regress from his time with his old team. A gaudy K rate of 33.1 percent in 2019 was somehow topped this year in 2020, as Jorge K’d 36 percent of the time this past season (36 strikeouts in 100 at-bats). He provided a negative dWAR all the while. His struggles on both sides of the ball warranted his benching during the postseason. Backup catcher Chad Wallach, who slashed .227/.277/.364 in the regular season, started over him. Manager Don Mattingly cited defense as the reason. 

This tandem posted a combined -0.4 WAR in 2020. And though Alfaro was infected by COVID-19 and never got into a groove, this lack of impact behind the plate cannot be perpetuated if the Marlins want to contend in 2021. Especially with little catching depth at the minor league level.

Upgrading at Catcher a Must

This leads to the possibility of the Fish signing former Tiger and White Sox catcher James McCann. It would be a GREAT signing at that. The 30-year-old has been one of the most consistent backstops over the last two seasons, posting a solid 4.0 oWAR and 126 OPS-plus in that time frame. And that isn’t all.

He has been VERY valuable behind the plate. He registered a nine DRS and a 32 percent caught-stealing-rate since 2019, whilst ranking in the top 11 percent in framing in 2020 (per Baseball Savant). Alfaro ranked in the 34th percentile in said metric in 2019 (not enough data to track this season). Meaning, McCann was able to steal strikes for his pitchers a lot more effectively than Alfaro.

Signing McCann would allow for Miami’s young starting pitching core to build a better rapport and trust with him. And they would in turn be more successful due to the intangibles and experience McCann has that Alfaro unfortunately lacks.

Final Thoughts on McCann

McCann’s dWAR the past two seasons alone (1.7) is more than Alfaro and Wallach’s total WAR combined in that time (1.1). 

The only qualm with signing him is the money he may command. The highest AAV on the books belongs to Starling Marte at $12.4 million over one-year. Though ownership cited a willingness to spend, it’s possible McCann could seek an AAV upwards of $15 million over several years, a financial commitment I’m not sure the Fish are willing to make.

Furthermore, if McCann is signed and deemed the catcher for the foreseeable future, where does that leave Alfaro? Undoubtedly talented with a rare combination of power and speed for a catcher, his role as a backup at age 27 could stunt any further player growth and even diminish his confidence. This could lead to the possibility that he’d be traded if McCann were inked to a deal in Miami.

Closing thoughts? McCann in caliente red makes all the sense as the position lacks production offensively and defensively with the current options. But the looming inevitability of a big payday and the inquiries surrounding current starter Jorge Alfaro’s role lead to many questions as to the legitimacy of a deal materializing

Free Agent Target No. 2: Alex Colome, RHP

The most obvious allocation of 2021 free agent money should be towards the Marlins’ bullpen. With some of their biggest 2020 contributors in Brad Boxberger and Brandon Kintzler becoming free agents, the Fish should aim to resign those two. Yimi Garcia, signed in the 2019 offseason, dazzled in 2020. And he looks to be a key setup man moving forward. However, there isn’t much certainty after that.

Right-hander Jamey Hoyt was effective with a 1.23 ERA this past season. But the 34-year-old was in the bottom eight percent in exit velocity per Baseball Savant. He threw his slider 67 percent of the time, leading to regression and predictability concerns.

Jose Urena, the longest-tenured member of the organization currently, had a rough 2020 amid a bout with COVID and a season-ending forearm fracture. He finished with a 5.40 ERA and 6.06 FIP. Other bullpen arms weren’t too reliable, either. This includes Ryne Stanek (diminished velocity and pitch effectiveness), Stephen Tarpley (BB/9 of 6 with average stuff), Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert (unproven rookies who struggled with COVID), and Jordan Yamamoto (let’s not talk about it).

Signing Colome Helps the Bullpen

If nothing else, signing Alex Colome would make that heads or tails bullpen a bit less worrisome. The Dominican right-hander logged 22 and a third sparkling innings for the White Sox in 2020. He pitched to a 0.81 ERA combined with a 2.97 FIP, ensuring that his success wasn’t influenced by good luck. The numbers back this up. He was above average in exit velocity, xSLG (expected slugging percentage against), and barrel percent (how frequent opposing batters barreled him) percentiles. This means he induced soft contact the entire year and was rarely hit hard.

This bodes well for a Marlins ‘pen that has had many volatile relievers who have had elite stuff but weren’t been able to limit hard contact, and he’d immediately fit into a setup or even closer’s role.

There aren’t many downsides to a signing like this, except for fear of regression due to the fickle nature of relievers in general. It may be noted though that Colome only relies on two pitches: a high-80s cutter and a mid-90s fastball. As long as Colome does not lose velocity on his four-seam fastball, as Kenley Jansen did, all indications point to continued effectiveness from him.

This would be a slam-dunk signing by the Fish. A one-year deal for $12-ish million would fortify a bullpen with high upside but many inconsistent performers. Colome’s track record, veteran experience, and overall ability would make the Marlins even better in 2021.

Marlins Free Agent Target No. 1: Brad Hand, LHP

Nothing more necessarily needs to be said about the Marlins’ bullpen. But for what it’s worth, lefty Richard Bleier cannot be the only southpaw to hold the fort down. Tarpley’s future fit with the team is questionable even right now. Hmmm…if only there were a former Marlin on the free-agent market who became one of the most effective left-handed relievers in the game after departing from the team. Oh wait, there is…BRAD HAND!

Hand has been nothing but rock solid since being DFA’d by the Fish back in 2015. He’s posted a 2.70 ERA and 157 ERA-plus (meaning he has been 57 percent better than the average MLB pitcher) between 2016 and 2020. And racked in an amazing 1.37 FIP in the truncated 2020 season for the Indians.

Hand still has an elite slider, one that moves 7.2 inches more than the average slider. Though he may not have a 95-mph fastball anymore, his low-90s heater plays up due to high spin rates (top 14 percent in fastball spin). He still performs extremely well in expected stats such as xERA (expected ERA), xSLG, and xBA (expected opponent batting average), leading to the low FIP.

Will Hand Accept a Pay Cut?

Barring an unwillingness to pay Hand a probable salary of $10-$14 million, he should fit in amazingly with Bleier. The two could form one of the best southpaw duos in the sport. One would contributed as a late relief option and the other projecting as the dominant closer they’ve vied for for ages.

Whether the Fish sign one, two, multiple, all, or none of these guys, the 2021 Miami Marlins offseason is set to be filled with tons of hype and excitement for hopefully a much better 162-game product than we’ve seen in a long time.

Marlins Ng

Marlins Make History with Hiring of Kim Ng to GM Position

Fresh off a season where they ended a 17-year playoff drought, the Miami Marlins continued to make history by hiring Kim Ng as the organization’s general manager. Ng becomes the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations among the 30 MLB teams and is believed to be the first woman hired to the General Manager position by any of the professional men’s sports teams in the North American Major Leagues.

Ng sports an extensive and impressive resume. For the last nine years, she’s served as MLB’s vice president of baseball operations. Prior to that, she piled up 21 years of experience in the front offices of the Chicago White Sox (1990–96), the New York Yankees (1998–2001) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002–11). Ng played an integral roll in assembling rosters that made eight postseason appearances, including six League Championship Series, and won three World Championships.

A statement from Marlins CEO Derek Jeter on Ng:

“On behalf of Principal Owner Bruce Sherman and our entire ownership group, we look forward to Kim bringing a wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience to the Miami Marlins. Her leadership of our baseball operations team will play a major role on our path toward sustained success. Additionally, her extensive work in expanding youth baseball and softball initiatives will enhance our efforts to grow the game among our local youth as we continue to make a positive impact on the South Florida community.”

While working with MLB, Ng directed international baseball operations. She worked closely with the front offices of all 30 MLB clubs and other leagues around the world. Ng led a group that set policy for and enforced international signing rules, established MLB’s first system for registering international players for signing and managed protocols for signing said talents. She raised the standards for international academies and negotiated agreements with various international winter leagues.

Ng’s Statement

“I entered Major League Baseball as an intern and, after decades of determination, it is the honor of my career to lead the Miami Marlins as their next General Manager,” Ng said in a statement from the club.

“We are building for the long term in South Florida, developing a forward-thinking, collaborative, creative baseball operation made up of incredibly talented and dedicated staff who have, over the last few years, laid a great foundation for success.

“This challenge is one I don’t take lightly,” she continued. “When I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a Major League team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals. My goal is now to bring Championship baseball to Miami. I am both humbled and eager to continue building the winning culture our fans expect and deserve.”

Ng’s Path to Becoming Marlins GM

Ng started her career as an intern with the White Sox in 1990. Eventually, she made her way up the ladder to Assistant Director of Baseball Operations.

In 1998, Ng landed a role as Assistant General Manager of the New York Yankees. She held that position from 1998 until 2001, a time when current Marlins CEO, Derek Jeter, was an integral part of that club. At the time she was hired, she was the youngest assistant GM in MLB and only the second woman to attain that position with an MLB club.

Ng went from New York to Los Angeles in 2002. There, she assumed the role of Vice President and Assistant General Manager. While there, she assisted in all player transactions, including trades and free agent signings. She also oversaw LA’s arbitration efforts, as well as the scouting, medical and video departments. Her time with the Dodgers overlapped with Marlins manager Don Mattingly’s tenure there by one year.

Ng’s hiring continues a trend with the Miami Marlins. Jeter became MLB’s first Black CEO after his group, led by Bruce Sherman, bought the club in 2017. Jeter hired Caroline O’Connor to be senior vice president, making her one of the highest-ranking women in pro sports.

Ng becomes the fifth person in club history to hold the top position in baseball operations.

Dave Dombrowski filled the role from the franchise’s expansion season in 1993 until 2001. Larry Beinfest manned the GM position from 2002 to 2007, helped the club claim its first World Series title. Michael Hill and Dan Jennings followed Beinfest. Hill operated as GM from 2008 to 2013, then earned a promotion. Jennings was GM for two years, 2013-2015. Hill resumed GM duties in 2016 until the end of this past season.

Check out our discussion of Ng’s hiring & free agent possibilities on the Five Reasons Sports Network’s YouTube channel:

Reaction to Ng’s Hiring


Mattingly manager of the year

Marlins’ Mattingly Named NL Manager of the Year

Yesterday, Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) named Don Mattingly National League Manager of the Year. He joins Jack McKeon (2003) and Joe Girardi (2006), becoming the third Marlins manager to win the award.

Mattingly manned the helm for the Marlins during a turbulent season that eventually ended in the NLDS. The Marlins sailed over preseason predictions and vaulted into the NL playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons. Most baseball pundits pegged Miami for no more than 25 wins, but Mattingly helped lead the club to 31 wins and a playoff berth.

This isn’t the first award Mattingly has won this year. Earlier this offseason, Sporting News named Mattingly NL Manager of the Year. He became the third Marlins manager to win that award, joining Fredi Gonzalez (2008) and Girardi (2006).

Mattingly earned 20 first place votes from the BBWAA and finished with 124 points total. Second place went to Padres’ manager Jayce Tingler. David Ross, the Cubs’ skipper, came in third.

Mattingly Earned His Manager of the Year Award

Mattingly navigated an unprecedented start to the 2020 season. The Marlins were struck with a COVID-19 outbreak that saw 18 players and two coaches sidelined. Miami’s front office reshaped the roster on the fly while Mattingly was literally meeting players for the time on the pitching mound.

Even in a truncated 60-game schedule, Miami made 174 roster moves. The team used 61 different players over the 60 games. Miami’s nine different starting pitchers in their first nine games of the season set a new MLB record. Of the 61 players who appeared for the Fish this season, 21 were rookies. 18 of those made their MLB debut.

This unlikely group crashed the NL postseason and swept the Chicago Cubs in the process.

“That’s a step froward for us,” Mattingly said. “We’ve gotten a lot of young guys experience this year. We’ll have a tremendous amount of competition within our camp next year for jobs and who’s going to be where. This is just the start of it. One of our slogans a couple of years ago was ‘Just getting started’ and that’s what I feel like now.”

Rojas, Jeter on Mattingly

The fact that Mattingly navigated the team through that uncertainty and kept them competitive was not lost on most.

“He’s a great person,” said Marlins shortstop and de facto captain Miguel Rojas. “He’s a great human being before being a baseball player or manager. The communication he has with the players, the confidence he gave the players is unbelievable.”

Rojas and Mattingly both inked extensions with Miami in 2019 and they’ve come together to help lead this young club forward. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has long called Mattingly a calming influence on this young group of players.

“Donnie believes in our vision,” Jeter said after extending Mattingly’s contract. “He believes in our direction, and he’s all in. He has shown a lot of patience with our young, developing team.”

Here’s the statement from Jeter following Mattingly being named NL Manager of the Year:

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award in 2020 than Donnie. His leadership and teamwork with staff and players were on display day in and day out in one of the most challenging seasons this sport has seen, as he guided the team to the organization’s first postseason appearance in 17 years. He continues to believe in our vision and invests in our young, talented players to help us work toward our goal of sustained success. This is another great honor in his storied baseball career.”

Mattingly, who was the American League MVP in 1985, becomes the fifth individual in Major League Baseball history to win both MVP and Manager of the Year honors. He joins Don Baylor, Kirk Gibson, Frank Robinson and Joe Torre.

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