Offseason In Review: Florida Marlins

The Offseason In Review series continues with the Marlins.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Extensions

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Summary

The Marlins had barely made a ripple in the free agent waters since the 2004-05 offseason, but this winter president Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill broke out the checkbook.  They made early November strikes for Buck and Vazquez, and also dealt away Uggla, Maybin, and Miller in a four-day span that same month.  The Fish are pushing payroll over $50MM for the first time since '05, but did they spend the extra money wisely?

Buck What was more surprising – that Buck scored an $18MM deal, or that it was with the Marlins?  Buck is a useful catcher, though a .247/.299/.484 line got him non-tendered by the Royals after '09.  In 2010 with Toronto, Buck reached a career high in playing time and hit for average for the first time in his career, but didn't seem to become a drastically different player than the one Kansas City cut loose.  Clearly the Marlins viewed Buck as a notch above the available catchers, with Victor Martinez out of their price range.  I imagine they assigned a premium to Buck's intangibles and felt they needed the leadership.

I can get behind the Vazquez gamble, even though the price was on the higher end for a reclamation project.  He turned down multiyear offers to play close to home.  Maybe Vazquez's velocity won't come back in 2011, but perhaps a return to the NL means 200 innings of 4.00 ball from the 34-year-old righty.  It's possible that after so many years of starting every fifth day, Vazquez just couldn't get back on track once the Yankees skipped starts and sent him to the pen.  I also like the addition of Shawn Hill, who seems like a poor man's Justin Duchscherer.

Choate is a strong bet to continue shutting down lefties, though his agency deserves a nod for snagging a second year.  I like Choate more than Will Ohman, who received $1.5MM more.  Buck, Vazquez, and Choate are all represented by ACES, a firm that also pounced on the Tigers' desire to act early by getting strong deals for Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, and Joaquin Benoit.

The Marlins also bucked their traditional minor league free agent approach to bullpen-building.  Aside from signing Choate, they added big arms Dunn, Mujica, Webb, and Richardson through trades.  It seems early to give up on Maybin, who turns 24 in April and has yet to reach arbitration.  Even Beinfest admitted Maybin "never really had the sustained time in the big leagues to show what we think he was capable of doing at the time of the trade [with Detroit]."  In Florida's defense, they received two controllable relievers for a player who could simply flame out in San Diego.  The price for a guy like Webb might have risen as the offseason progressed and free agent relievers started signing for good money.  The Marlins will turn to Chris Coghlan in center field, a position he's never played as a pro.     

Florida's free agent spending was made possible in part by trading Uggla to the division-rival Braves after he wisely rejected a four-year, $48MM extension offer.  I found the return for Uggla to be disappointing for the Marlins, who could have kept him for $10-11MM for 2011.  They lose about 25 home runs out of the second base spot, and Infante is a year away from free agency as well.  Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said that "the home run hitters didn't win enough games for us" as justification for the power subtraction.  The Marlins may have felt that they'd be better served redistributing Uggla's money toward pitching and defense.  And if they weren't necessarily willing to offer arbitration to the slugging second baseman after the 2011 season, they risked getting no players in return.  

The Marlins deserve credit for hammering out an extension with Nolasco, buying out a free agent year from their number two starter.  With Josh Johnson, Nolasco, Vazquez, and Anibal Sanchez, the Marlins have a formidable front four.  

A year after signing zero Major League free agents, the Marlins committed over $27MM to three this offseason.  Beinfest and company focused on Buck's leadership, Vazquez's innings, and upgrading the bullpen, with the expectation that they'll still have a strong lineup one through seven without Uggla.  The Marlins may not be considered the NL East favorite, but their top-shelf young talent makes them a sleeper for 2011.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


11 Responses to Offseason In Review: Florida Marlins Leave a Reply

  1. This is definitely a team I expect to put up a fight every year.

  2. rockfordone 4 years ago

    Nice .500 team for 50M

  3. I think their pen will much stronger than its been in a couple seasons (which isn’t saying much though), starting pitching is all-around solid, defense will be better, Buck is an improvement over that hgh stiff Paulino. Only thing that weakens them is Uggla’s bat is gone. Wouldn’t surprise me if they take 2nd in the division from the Braves.

    • If the pen had held 1/3 more games than they blew last year they would have been in the wild card race.

    • I think Stanton and Morrison for a whole year will cover the loss of hr’s from Uggla. I agree that they will contend for 2nd.

      • I have faith that Stanton will keep improving, but I think Morrison is going regress a bit over the course of the 2011 season. Guy had a .351 Babip in his 62 games last year, don’t see him sustaining that. I think he’ll be solid though, but I’ve heard scouts claim that he’s a streaky hitter.

  4. I’ve already pinned them to second in the division and just a hair out of the wild card race. Hanley, JJ and Stanton will be all stars this year.

    • I don’t see the Marlins having a better club than the Braves in ANY area aside from overall defense. Buck and McCann are pretty much the same defensively, but McCann is obviously the better hitter. Then again, with Hanley at SS and Coghlan in CF…..I’m not sure the defense will be leaps and bounds better than the Braves.

      I feel that the Braves have a better offense, starting staff, bullpen, and bench. I think the Marlins staff is underrated though and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them match what Atlanta has if Sanchez can stay healthy. The drop in velocity worries me with Vazquez, so I’ve got no idea what to expect from him this season. Will Nolasco finally have an ERA that matches his rate stats?

      The pen is upgraded by default, since I can’t imagine it being any worse than last years. But it’s a pretty young pen, so it’s tough to make projections.

      I think they’ll end up with around 88 wins.

  5. HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

    The Buck deal is sketchy at best. I wasn’t impressed with him last year with The Jays.

  6. GoCubs10 4 years ago

    to be honest i like the way that marlins start off strong but they have to continue it throughout the season…they need another star player to make them a contenter to be honest

  7. Guest 4 years ago

    Gotta love that roster with the amount of money they’ve spent.

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