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It feels wrong — not only in a moral and emotional sense, but also in pure baseball terms — to suggest that the Marlins can or should try to replace dearly departed ace Jose Fernandez. His sobering loss leaves gaping voids in the game writ large; in the Marlins organization, generally; and in the team’s pitching staff — none of which can be filled.
- Giancarlo Stanton, OF: $285.5MM through 2027 (including $10MM buyout on 2028 club option; may opt out after 2020, with $218MM left on contract)
- Wei-Yin Chen, SP: $61MM through 2020 (may opt out after 2017, with $52MM left on contract; 2021 conditional player option)
- Christian Yelich, OF: $48MM through 2021 (including $1.25MM buyout on 2022 club option)
- Dee Gordon, 2B: $45.5MM through 2020 (including $1MM buyout on 2021 club option)
- Martin Prado, 3B: $40MM through 2019
- Ichiro Suzuki, OF: $2MM through 2017 (includes club option for 2018)
Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLB Trade Rumors)
- David Phelps, SP/RP (4.156) – $5.2MM
- Adeiny Hechavarria, SS (4.060) – $3.7MM
- A.J. Ramos, RP (4.030) – $6.8MM
- Tom Koehler, SP (4.016) – $6.2MM
- Marcell Ozuna, OF (3.124) – $4.5MM
- Derek Dietrich, IF (2.151) – $1.8MM
- Fernando Rodney, RP: $4.1MM club option ($400K buyout)
[Marlins Depth Chart; Marlins Payroll Information]
Fernandez was the beating heart of the Miami franchise, its best and most passionate player. We may never truly be able to take full stock of the effects of his death — not just on the organization, but also on the Miami and broader baseball communities — but the heartrending reaction of the organization in its aftermath suggests that they will be profound.
From a roster perspective, the loss of Fernandez is mercilessly easy to assess: the Marlins had one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball. Now, they don’t. Teams wait for decades to unearth a single player of his talents in the draft. Without Fernandez racking up strikeouts at a prodigious rate, while earning a bargain salary during his arbitration years, the Marlins look like a decidedly less promising team.
The team already had plenty of limitations, and plenty of needs, when looking ahead to 2017. Coming into 2016, the Fish carried an Opening Day payroll of just over $74MM — second only in franchise history to the ill-fated, $100MM+ 2012 roster. Once guaranteed salaries and the approximate arb obligations are tallied, Miami already has about $70MM committed for the season to come. While some payroll increases are anticipated, it would require a rather significant step northward to accomodate the addition of multiple quality veterans.
Trades are always possible, of course, but Miami is short in prospect capital. The organization already parted with top first base prospect Josh Naylor, as well as bounceback-candidate MLB pitchers Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps, in the failed deal to acquire rental starter Andrew Cashner. The Marlins did recover youngster Luis Castillo after unwinding the portion of that trade involving injured starter Colin Rea, so he could again be cashed in. Fellow young starters like Jarlin Garcia, recent first-round draft pick Braxton Garrett, and the TJ-recovering Tyler Kolek, could all be flipped. But the Fish will need to be judicious in parting with young arms after shipping out pitchers like Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney in recent years. Corner infielder Brian Anderson has shown promise and is nearing major league readiness, so he’s another asset that could hold appeal.
Miami did take steps forward in the win-loss department last year, and the team does feature a talented core even without its young ace. But there are many areas in need of improvement if the club hopes to return to the postseason for the first time since a 2003 World Series run. Catching the Nationals and Mets would be no small feat.
Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna make up one of the very best young, controlled outfield units in baseball. Most of the infield mix is settled, too. Second baseman Dee Gordon will look to bounce back from a suspension-marred 2016, and the club will hope that double-play partner Adeiny Hechavarria can at least return to hitting at a near-average rate while continuing to provide quality glovework at short. (There has been some chatter that the team would consider dealing Hechavarria for starting pitching, but he may not have enough value and the team doesn’t really have an alternative barring a surprise move of Gordon back to short.) The Marlins kept veteran third baseman Martin Prado off the market by inking a reasonable, but hardly bargain-priced extension in September. At first, Justin Bour has continued to provide power and a strong overall batting line against right-handed pitching, though he’s in need of a platoon partner. And behind the plate, J.T. Realmuto turned in a strong campaign and looks to be one of the better young catchers in the game.
The supporting cast could use some work, but the Marlins can fill out those ranks with the kinds of cheap, veteran additions the team has pursued in recent years. The venerable Ichiro Suzuki will return in the fourth outfielder’s role. Chris Johnson didn’t perform well as the right-handed-hitting complement to Bour, so Miami will look into a market that includes options such as Steve Pearce, Dae-ho Lee, and Ryan Raburn. The light-hitting Miguel Rojas remains on hand as an affordable utility option, though perhaps the club could look to bring in a veteran such as Erick Aybar or Alexei Ramirez to push Hechavarria and step in as needed elsewhere. A move to bring back defensive specialist Jeff Mathis as the reserve receiver wouldn’t be surprising, and there are a wide variety of other veteran backup types available.
That brings us to a player who is perhaps the biggest wild card on the Marlins’ roster: left-handed-hitting infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich. Though he fell off after a big start to the year and is much better against right-handed pitching, Dietrich’s overall offensive performance has been plenty promising. Dating back to the start of 2015, he has posted a .270/.362/.438 batting line with 17 home runs over 701 plate appearances. Better still, defensive metrics have come around on him, rating him as an approximately average defender at second, third, and (briefly) the corner outfield in 2016.
It’s possible that the Marlins will find it hard to maximize Dietrich’s value with their current roster. He can’t play short or center. Second and third are largely occupied. And Dietrich won’t be of much utility at first since he swings from the same side of the plate as Bour.
As the Marlins look to build out their depleted rotation, then, Dietrich could be a key asset. Certainly, he could be traded if there’s another organization willing to give up a useful arm to add him — though with such limitations in his game, trade partners would likely also be looking for some of the above-mentioned pitching prospects to give up a quality starter. More intriguingly, perhaps, the Marlins could explore the possibility of moving one of their young outfielders — Ozuna seems most likely, though Yelich could also be considered — to add an impact arm. In that scenario, Dietrich could pair with a righty bat in left field.
Just what does Miami need in the rotation? Three spots are clearly accounted for, with the inconsistent-but-talented Adam Conley, steady-but-unspectacular Tom Koehler, and veteran Wei-Yin Chen (who’s looking to make amends for a miserable first year with the team) all more or less locked in. Righty David Phelps certainly made his case late in the year, turning in five outstanding starts after breaking out in the pen earlier in the year. He will have a prominent job of some kind in 2017, and the club seems to have quite a lot to gain by stretching him out next spring. And there are some possibilities for a fifth arm, including Justin Nicolino (who managed just 3.8 K/9 last year), Jose Urena (a low-K pitcher who has had good results in the minors), Jake Esch, Kendry Flores (if he can return to health), and perhaps Jarlin Garcia.
You could squint at that group and see a complete staff, but the Marlins obviously aren’t content. The real question at this point is just how big they’ll look to go in adding another starter (if not two). Miami is reportedly willing to consider moving Ozuna, Gordon, Hechavarria, or Dietrich — but not Stanton, Yelich, or Realmuto — to facilitate the addition of an arm. Ozuna likely has the most appeal after a strong 2016 season, and the Marlins have indicated a willingness to move him in the past. Garrett, an exciting power lefty, is the real prize in the prospect pool and would surely draw significant interest.
Even if Miami doesn’t gun for the biggest names (Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Chris Archer) that could be available, rival teams with quality, controllable arms — think Jake Odorizzi — will have high asking prices. If the Marlins can’t stomach the sticker shock, it’s conceivable that they could take on part of a veteran’s deal, perhaps even becoming the third team to own a part of James Shields’s contract. They could also look to take a shot at adding a bounceback arm in the mold of Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals, or aim somewhat higher for his teammate Michael Wacha. In recent years, the Fish have shown a predilection for taking some risks in trades for young-ish, higher-upside starters (e.g., Cosart, Cashner, Mat Latos), so a reasonably bold move could be in the offing.
Free agency isn’t without its options in the rotation department. While the premium talent just isn’t there, that’s not typically where Miami goes shopping anyway. A play for the best-available arms — Rich Hill, Jeremy Hellickson, and Ivan Nova — can’t be ruled out, but doesn’t seem particularly likely. They could seek some functional innings from a pitcher in the mold of Doug Fister, Jorge De La Rosa, Charlie Morton, or (for a budget option) Tommy Milone, though it’s fair to wonder whether that’s really what the team needs. A calculated gamble on Cashner would make quite a bit of sense — were it not for the fact that he struggled badly in Miami (and really doesn’t like its no-beard policy). Edinson Volquez is a workhorse who still has pretty good velocity, so he’d look to be a reasonable fit.
Assuming that Phelps remains in the rotation, the top two pen options will remain A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough. Recent trade addition Hunter Cervenka looks to be the primary southpaw set-up man, but he’ll likely be joined by another lefty. A new deal with Mike Dunn could make sense. Nick Wittgren probably has a job secured after a strong season. Brian Ellington has posted a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last two years, and could take a job even if his peripherals don’t quite support the results. There are a variety of other internal options, including some of the youngsters noted above who are being developed as starters, but there’s plenty of room for improvement and good reason to think the Fish will look to add one or two useful veteran righties. Dustin McGowan had a successful season and could return, and the free agent market contains a wide variety of veteran performers with late-inning experience (including Sergio Romo, Joaquin Benoit, Santiago Casilla, and the hard-throwing Daniel Hudson).
All told, there’s quite a bit of variability for the Marlins this winter, especially if they go hunting for a high-quality rotation piece. What does seem clear is that the organization won’t stop trying to contend. The team dealt some intriguing assets for Cashner despite a mediocre postseason outlook. And even after the disheartening loss of Fernandez, Miami struck a new deal with the veteran Prado. While it’s probably optimistic to expect a division title even with a fairly aggressive offseason, the Marlins could certainly profile as a solid Wild Card contender if they manage to bolster the pitching staff and make a few good calls on role players.
RIP…..can’t even fathom what the Marlins and their fans are going through…
Really?? RIP to someone who was stupid enough to throw his life away, just so he could go on a late night boating excursion with his buds?? Guess you somehow missed the part of him being drunk and having cocaine in his system. Can feel bad for his family and friends, but for Jose?? No thanks
People make mistakes–often stupid ones. He made a mistake, and paid with his life for it. During that life, he apparently donated substantial time and money to various charities and his community, and he was clearly considered a good teammate and well thought-of by other ML players. I don’t see any purpose to spitting on his grave.
Wow. Show a little compassion.
Ya rip to that guy. He was a pillar in that community. How could you possibly be so inconsiderate?
I wish I had the time to list the risky mistakes I made when I was 25 years old…..you’re entitled to your opinion, by the same token I’m entitled to mine, so troll someone else
So, Jose did some coke, drank a few beers and deserves to die?
I’d remove this disgusting comment, but will leave it up since so many have rightly jumped in to explain why it’s foolish. Doubt I’m alone in wondering how many of my own stupid, youthful decisions could’ve turned out badly. I won’t condone the use of illegal drugs, and certainly would condemn any decision to operate a vehicle of any kind while under the influence (though I’ve yet to see any suggestion whether he was at the helm), but it’s a tragedy regardless.
Thanks for chiming in Jeff, and also for leaving it up…..as a recovering alcoholic and addict of 15 years, his comments offended me at first, until I realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion no matter how vile they be
What does it matter to you how he died?
Was he a friend or family member of yours, or are you just a jock sniffer with a personality disorder?
He’s likely someone who is been affected by addiction in the past, probably someone close to him, a parent, sibling or close friend…..
Or he’s just a douchebag, who hasn’t been affected by addiction in some way or another?
That’s definitely possible
Even without Fernandez, I see the fish as a WC team. They need at least one more starter though to replace him. But all the talk of making him a savior is now gone with the results of the blood tests showing booze and coke. Makes him easier to replace to the fan base
How does that make it easier to replace him to the fan base? The guy was the face of the franchise and a pillar in the Miami community. There is no excuse for doing illegal drugs and operating a vehicle under the influence, but one bad action does not negate all of the good he did for the franchise and the city. It also doesn’t make him a bad person.
Jose was an amazing pitcher and a truly fun guy. Just because he “partied,” does not make him a bad person. A ton of athletes (and the general population) do that. However, not many athletes serve their community as well as Jose did. Don’t let a toxicology report completely ruin what he accomplished in his way too short of time in this world.
I think even with Jose the Marlins still needed another SP
The Marlins and Rays could match up very nicely here. The Rays have potentially 8 guys that could be tabbed as MLB starting quality (Archer, Odorizzi, Cobb(still 5-10 starts out from returning to form), Snell, Andriese and the trio of prospects in Faria, Schultz, and Honeywell. You could even throw Chase Whitley in that conversation.
BUT the Marlins could most likely get Odorizzi or Smyly for Ozuna and a couple of prospects, which is reasonable for both sides. The Marlins have a solid foundation of players to build upon (Bless his soul JF16). Adding a proven Major League starter would improve their club.
For the Rays, they add an impact bat that they always seem to be needing and it leaves them with an Outfield of KK, Ozuna, and Souza.
Potentially, if the Marlins wanted Archer- you know the Rays would want Yelich
Rays actually were 9th in baseball in park adjusted offense (wRC+) last year. They of course wouldn’t mind getting a guy like Ozuna, but they wouldn’t play him in CF, which is a lot of his value. So can’t imagine them cashing in one of their major league ready arms for an arb eligible guy like him. If they make that kind of trade, it would be for a younger corner OF, someone like Yelich. And they’ll have 20 teams bidding.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Odorizzi with the Marlins, Maybe Ozuna + Luis Castillo trade
I’m wondering if Anibal Sanchez might be a buy low target for them. I’m sure the Tigers would pick up some contract, and probably not be asking for much. He was quite good just two years ago.
I was thinking the same thing about Sanchez. Detroit wants to lower payroll and moving Sanchez would help. The problem is they have little in the way of backup SP. Pelfrey and Greene will be BP/spot start options, but only guys like Farmer, Turley ,Saupold, etc. are in the system as possible injury replacements. The rest need at least another year of seasoning.
I think they still have depth. They have Verlander, Zimmermann, Fulmer, Norris and Boyd as Major League caliber starters going into the season, so having Pelfrey, Greene and Farmer as 6th, 7th and 8th is better depth than most teams.
How about Ozuna for JA Happ. Would allow Dietrich to get a lot of starts against righties, and gives the rotation a solid starter, It would allow the Jays to move Osuna or Biagini into the rotation, and help fill their empty outfield.
I’d do that as a jay fan but I doubt Miami would. And I think stretching biagini or osuna out would be foolish. It would make are depleted bullpen even worse, and I’m guessing both would be in AAA for most of the year next year if we did. I’m pretty sure osuna has stated that he’d rather be the closer anyways too
Why would they need to be in AAA? They can transition to the rotation in the Majors. There will be growing pains here and there, but they’ve shown the ability to get Major Leaguers out, albeit in short stints. There isn’t much to be gained in their development by having them starting in AAA.
There is a lot more value to be gained by a pitcher in the rotation than in the bullpen, both in terms of value added to the team and value added to the bank account. Osuna is happy in the bullpen because he knows he is on the Major League roster and can contribute to the success of the team. If he goes to the rotation, especially right now where he’d be behind 5 guys on the depth chart, there’s a good chance that he goes to AAA. But if Happ is moved, there is no threat of him going to AAA, so why wouldn’t he be happy about probably making more money, while still being pretty much guaranteed a Major League job.
Bullpens are for failed starters. Osuna hasn’t even come close failing as a starter. Biagini I could see the argument for saying his stuff isn’t good enough for the rotation, and his track record in the Minors as a starter isn’t encouraging. But Osuna should be starting, and the Jays can find other guys to take over in the bullpen. Osuna in the rotation is better for the long term viability of the club, because after 2017, the rotation gets thin with the departure of Estrada and Liriano.
Right, like Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard
Does the value really add up though for the Jays? Happ has statistically been one of the top starters in MLB since Aug 1 2015. He’s also owed just $26 million over 2 years which has proven to be a big bargain. I do expect regression but he’ll likely still be better than most FA options this winter.
On the flip side, Ozuna is an average hitter(career 103 wRC) whose value lies in his defensive abilities in RF. And though he’s posted some gaudy defensive numbers in RF, he’s played less than 550 career innings there. I’d likely pull the trigger(as long as we had a replacement SP lined up), I’m just not as a sold as you.
Value for 2017 is probably slightly lost, due to Osuna not being able to get a full year at starting. But Ozuna has one more year of control than Happ, and getting Osuna ready to be a 33 start starter in 2018-2020 makes the long term likely a lot more valuable with this trade.
What about wacha, Garcia, Wong and a young pitching prospect for Dee Gordon and Osuna?
OK lessee. Two injury riddled starting pitchers, one of whom is expensive and the other below replacement last year, for a 2.5 WAR centerfielder with three years of control, and the right to downgrade (severely) from Gordon to Wong.
That “young pitching prospect” better be awful good!
Garcia + $8 million cash, Tyler Lyons, Mike Mayers, & Tommy Pham for Ozuna.
Marlins can flip Garcia for a prospect or two, keep the cash and have 2 starting pitchers + a replacement outfielder..
Cardinals get a CF/LF, Cardinals are essentially payroll neutral from last year.
I think the cardinals are gonna aim higher than Ozuna for CF. but with Dee Gordon, I can see a trade. What is s realistic package for Ozuna and Gordon? Wong, bader, weaver, Garcia 8 mil?
I actually think the Mets and Marlins could match up here but I doubt they would trade with each other
I’ve read things where Loria and the Miami organization is going set up some sort of fund for Jose’s daughter. I may be off with that, but I’m pretty sure I read that something of that sort will happen. One of the hardest things to lament is the reality of losing Jose the ballplayer. Like this article said, you lose one of the best pitchers in baseball. You lose that trade chip if they ever needed to get a ransom for him. Jose’s family loses that contract that sets them up for generations. Not saying that in a negative way, but coming from Cuba to signing what surely would’ve been a 200 million plus if he sought Max value clearly would’ve allowed him to take care of his daughter and loved ones. I do lose some sympathy towards Jose in light of recent reports of things in his system, but it just makes the Grief more impactful for his family.
Hopefully w all the earning potential that Fernandez had, that he had a fat life insurance policy for his family. Most at 25 don’t think about their own death tho.
Scott Boras is famous for teaching guys like Jose what they need to financial matters… between the charitable money for his daughter, and his life insurance she should be able to attend good schools and have a real future, but not the 200 million he likely would’ve signed for had he survived, I hope his family is OK
Stanton needs to stay healthy and play 150 games. Would love to watch a healthy Stanton hit 50+ bombs. But, I genuinely question his ability to stay on the field. Work on your flexibility, GS, take a yoga class (or two).
Yeah, he’s still young but he’s starting to establish a pattern of fragility that’s a little worrisome.
Needs to spend the offseason training with Ichiro
You can just smell what could happen with this team if they can get a pitching staff to go along with the talent they have in that lineup. There’s flaws, to be sure, but they just give me the feeling that if they had a bit more of a pitching staff, not a lot would have to go right for the Marlins to become a very tough team to beat.
Samarzija and 25 million dollars and a low level prospect for Yelich. Marlins get to add the controllable starting pitcher they want without adding much payroll. I know they want to keep Yelich and would rather deal Ozuna but if I’m the giants I’m sticking with that price point. Who says no? I’d love to hear what people think?
They should just sign my brother…..
Trade away headache ramos, give barraclough a shot at closing. Upgrade the rotation by trading away ozuna and hechavaria and they should be set…
Another option is to blow up the team and ship away Stanton after the all star game next year and go for it by 2018-2019..try to get what you can from Stanton while you can.. and please please please trade away ramos..did I already request that?