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This is the beginning of a post series to share views about the Marlins’ upcoming offseason. What went right, what needs to be improved, glaring needs, roster composition, free agent and trade targets, prospects and farm system, among others, will be discussed.
Since we are sitting on the side while the postseason develops, this post series will begin by ranking the priorities for the organization after the last game of the World Series. Here is a friendly reminder that this is the writer’s point of view, and the reader has all the right to think otherwise. Discussions are encouraged so please, state yours in the comments if needed.
Here is the ranking of priorities for this offseason:
1. Extend Kim Ng. Players are the most important part of the team. For the sake of the game, a team can go through a season without a GM. So why did Kim get the top priority? Well, ever since Derek Jeter left, fans could feel the change in their mindset. Every time she speaks to the media a fan can tell her professionalism, experience, structure, and most importantly, always speaks with caution.
Never heard of her saying “We are going to win it all,” but more, “We always look for better ways to make sustainable improvements, make this team better not just this year”. She knows the roster is still one or two years away from truly competing, maybe then she can go for it. Even though this was his contract year, she made moves to bring pieces for several years, e.g., Arráez, Burger, Scott, Weathers, etc. She is not perfect, especially when it comes to Free Agency (hello Cueto, Segura), but you can tell there is a project, and she is sticking to a plan.
The message to Mr. Sherman is to do whatever it takes to keep her around. It does not make any sense to let her walk away after the most successful season in 20 years and being closer to having a couple of winning seasons in a row, and why not, have another championship. Let Kim cook.
2. Catcher. When it comes to players, this brief analysis will be complemented with dedicated posts about every specific position. For now, let’s state the obvious: the catching position sucked offensively. It was so bad that even though both catchers did more or less well behind the plate, they were (barely) next-to-last in OPS, last in SLG, and there was not a single offensive stat they ranked above 25th place. It was just miserable, and something needs to happen this winter.
3. Shortstop. Joey Wendle got the Lion’s share and unfortunately, he had a terrible season. By the season’s end, the position was split between Berti and Hampson, and although they fared well, that did not prevent the Marlins from finishing last in OPS, SLG, and OBP. Catcher is more urgent only because there are some people who believe the Berti/Hampson tandem can manage a whole season (disagree with, but won’t completely hate). The bar is just too low right now.
4. Starter. After Sandy went to Tommy John surgery, the rotation suddenly looked like an area of improvement. Cueto’s option most definitely will not be exercised. But the reason this is not higher on the list is that, on paper, the team still has Luzardo, Garrett, Pérez, Cabrera, Rogers, Weathers, and even the likes of Max Meyer, George Soriano, and Bryan Hoeing. However, the former three are the only ones with guaranteed rotation spots entering Spring Training—everyone after them has a sort of concern, whether is consistency, health, or lack of experience. A Cueto-type free agent starter is required (just not Johnny himself).
5. Right-Handed Reliever. We all enjoyed the Nardi-Scott combo, as well as Puk’s great first half of the season. None of those relievers are RHs, so the reason for Kim to bring Robertson. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out even with his solid record before the trade. His performance in Miami will most probably avoid reunification, and the team will still need a right-hander. The team should look for a 97+ mph flamethrower, a Johan Duran-style kind of guy. The most reliable RH relievers on the roster were Chargois and Brazobán, but they don’t fill that profile.
6. Roster Depth. This is something to be discussed more appropriately after knowing the contract options from both Soler and Bell. In an ideal world, if they both stay then this team will be just fine after addressing the needs described above. But we all know Soler will opt out. There is a very good chance Bell will do the same, given the thin 1B FA market this offseason. As stated, it is a bit too early to discuss this, but an LH-bat, speedy, glove-first OF can also be very useful to this roster. Will Troy Johnston have a chance next year? If he can platoon a corner OF, play some 1B, and some other DH, he can be impactful next season.
7. Contract Extensions. The writer never sees this subject as extremely important and for sure most of you will disagree. But if the ownership stands by its word, this is a logical move. Two seasons ago, the FO was complaining about the broadcasting contract, stadium name rights, attendance, etc. There are no such revenue excuses anymore. Attendance improved and will keep improving if the team sends the right message to the fanbase. Arráez, Jazz, Luzardo, Eury…all extension candidates. At least 2 of them this offseason and 2 the next one, but it must be done.
8. Farm System. This is last on the list just because this takes more than one offseason, but the sooner they start, the better. A good thing Oz Ocampo joined the team, given his previous success in Houston. Can the Marlins somehow improve the scouting corps when it comes to position players? Time will tell.
That’s it! Comments are much appreciated.
Photo by Jesus Sanchez/Fish On First