Offseason Outlook: Florida Marlins

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Marlins.  Their likely commitments for 2010:

C – John Baker – $400K
C – Ronny Paulino – $440K+
1B – Jorge Cantu – $3.5MM+
2B – Dan Uggla – $5.35MM+
SS – Hanley Ramirez – $7MM
3B – Emilio Bonifacio – $400K
IF/OF – Alfredo Amezaga – $1.3MM+
1B/3B – Wes Helms – $950K
LF – Chris Coghlan – $400K
CF – Cody Ross – $2.225MM+
RF – Brett Carroll – $400K
OF – Cameron Maybin – $400K
? –

SP – Ricky Nolasco – $2.4MM+
SP – Josh Johnson – $1.4MM+
SP – Chris Volstad – $400K
SP – Sean West – $400K
SP – Andrew Miller – $1.575MM

Other candidates: Rick VandenHurk – $400K

RP – Leo Nunez – $415K+
RP – Matt Lindstrom – $410K+
RP – Brian Sanches – $400K
RP – Renyel Pinto – $404K+
RP – Burke Badenhop – $400K
RP – Dan Meyer – $400K
RP – Carlos Martinez – $400K

Non-tender candidates: Jeremy Hermida, Renyel Pinto, Alfredo Amezaga

Assuming Hermida is non-tendered, the Marlins will have about $32MM committed before arbitration raises to Paulino, Cantu, Uggla, Amezaga, Ross, Nolasco, Johnson, Nunez, Lindstrom, and Pinto.  The huge arbitration group should put the Fish around $45MM, even if Pinto and Amezaga are also non-tendered.  According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Marlins entered 2009 with a $36.8MM payroll.

Presumably the non-tender candidates will be shopped, and it would not be surprising to see many of the other arb-eligible players available on the trade market.  Cantu and Uggla seem particularly likely to be traded, while the Marlins hope to sign Johnson to an extension.

In a recent mailbag for MLB.com, Joe Frisaro answered a question about a possible Uggla-Javier Vazquez swap.  Uggla fits the Braves' need for right-handed power, though the team's first base and left field vacancies don't match up.  Plus, the Braves and Marlins are in direct competition.  The Tigers, Twins, Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers might need help at second base, while Uggla could theoretically play third base for the Orioles, Twins, Angels, A's, Mariners, Astros, or Cardinals.  Of course, trading Uggla would leave the Marlins weak at second or third base themselves.

Cantu has much less trade value than Uggla.  Ross fits somewhere in-between, given the weak market for center fielders.  It'd make sense for the Marlins to seek young pitching in any deal, though I expect them to improve on this year's 4.57 rotation ERA regardless of any acquisitions.  Gaby Sanchez can step in at first base for Cantu after hitting .289/.374/.475 at Triple A.  Also, Logan Morrison logged a .411 OBP as a 21-year-old at Double A.

The Marlins deserve praise for last year's bullpen-building – Nunez was acquired for Mike Jacobs, while Kiko Calero, Brendan Donnelly, and Sanches were signed to minor league deals.  With Calero and Donnelly likely headed for greener pastures, Lindstrom a question mark, and Pinto getting pricey, look for the Marlins to repeat the process. 

Same old story for the Marlins for 2010 - they'll probably find a way to compete on a shoestring budget.  The light at the end of the tunnel: the new stadium opens in 2012.



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