The Marlins’ postseason berth and series victory over the Cubs surprised much of the baseball world, and as they take steps with the hopes of a return to October baseball, newly appointed general manager Kim Ng tells reporters in Miami that the bullpen is her team’s primary focus this winter (Twitter link via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald). While Ng acknowledged that she would “love” to add another bat to the mix, the ongoing lack of clarity with regard to a National League designated hitter in 2021 clouds such pursuits.
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Miami has already shuffled its relief mix early in the offseason, opting to decline closer Brandon Kintzler’s $4MM option in favor of a $250K buyout, non-tendering right-hander Ryne Stanek, and acquiring righty Adam Cimber in a trade with the Indians. Cimber joins right-hander Yimi Garcia and lefty Richard Bleier as part of the team’s late-inning mix, but the Fish are lacking experienced veterans and more proven young arms alike.
Under previous president of baseball operations Michael Hill, the Marlins had done well to wait out the relief market and bring in some affordable names on low-cost deals late in the offseason. Miami landed Sergio Romo on a one-year deal in 2019 and flipped him to the Twins in a deal that netted first base prospect Lewin Diaz, and this past winter’s signing of Kintzler paid dividends when the 36-year-old tallied a dozen saves with a 2.22 ERA (albeit with much less-convincing peripheral marks).
At this point, it’s not known whether the club will take a more aggressive approach to bullpen construction under Ng’s watch, although it would be understandable if the 2020 playoff bid prompted some increased urgency. At the moment, the Marlins have $33.15MM committed to five players: Starling Marte, Corey Dickerson, Miguel Rojas, Jesus Aguilar and Garrett Cooper. That figure could jump another $9MM or so base on still-pending arbitration cases for Garcia, Bleier, Cimber, Brian Anderson and Jorge Alfaro. Even an aggressive slate of projections would only put payroll in the $60MM range.
It’s a good winter to be in the market for bullpen help, as we’ve already seen several quality names have options for the 2021 season declined. Several more who had solid 2020 seasons — Archie Bradley, Matt Wisler, Ryan Tepera among them — were cut loose prior to yesterday’s non-tender deadline. Certainly, the trade market poses countless other options, and the Marlins have a quality farm system from which to deal if they choose to go that route.
Turning to some in-house business for the Marlins, it was notable — as pointed out by Sportsgrid’s Craig Mish — to hear Ng indicate that her preference is to see third baseman Brian Anderson play for a year before engaging in long-term contract negotiations. The 27-year-old has been Miami’s best and most consistent player for several seasons, hitting at a combined .266/.350/.436 clip with 42 home runs, 74 doubles and six triples across his past three seasons (1419 plate appearances). Anderson has proven himself capable of playing quality defense at both third base and in right field.
Mish reported back in July that the two sides had been discussing a five-year deal in the range of $30MM guaranteed, but those talks took place prior to the league’s shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the time being, at least, it doesn’t appear as though they’ll resume this winter. That doesn’t rule out an eventual long-term deal for Anderson, however, as the Marlins still control him through the 2023 season.