Here are some staggering numbers to think about, the Miami Marlins spent $191 million dollars on free agents this off-season. If you have followed the Marlins franchise in it’s history, that comes as a major shock. The Marlins at the beginning of the off-season promised to spend big money to improve the team, and they came through on that promise.
There is however an even bigger number that involves the Marlins and their free agent spending this off-season. That number is $337 million. What is the significance of that number? Well, that is the amount of money that the Marlins have put on the table, only to be spurned this off-season.
The Marlins reportedly offered Albert Pujols a 10-year $201 million deal. C.J. Wilson was offered a 6-year deal in the excess of $100 million. Most recently, the Marlins offered Yoenis Cepsedes a 6-year $36 million. Pujols and Wilson signed deals with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Yoenis Cespedes chose to sign with the Oakland Athletics. Now that I think about it, damn you AL West!
Larry Beinfest is not going to be someone who dwells on the lost opportunities. “I don’t know about the word ‘disappointment.” We wanted to add another quality player. We tried on Pujols. We tried on C.J. Wilson. We tried on Cespedes.” Beinfest still feels the Marlins have added enough this off-season to be legitimate contenders.
Larry Beinfest is spot on. The Marlins today are better off without the contract of Albert Pujols. Yes, he would have helped the Marlins a ton in the upcoming 2012 season, but think about going forward. The Marlins need to resign Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, and Josh Johnson in the next few seasons. Anibal Sanchez will enter free agency this off-season, creating another hole in the rotation.
Gaby Sanchez is no pushover either. Sanchez was an All-Star last season, although I am not putting a lot of credit behind that selection. Sanchez only made the All-Star game because one Marlin had to go. They did choose the wrong Marlin. I still think Anibal Sanchez was more deserving, but that is another story for another day.
Not signing Pujols is not going to kill the Marlins. Maybe in the short term, if he has a monster season and fans overreact to that. The Marlins in the long run are a lot better off without Pujols then with him.
The other player that spurned the Marlins to sign with the Angels was C.J. Wilson. Wilson was converted into a starting pitcher in the 2010 season. Since he has become a full-time starter, Wilson has been one of the better left handers in the game. Wilson had another strong season in 2011. This led him to a chance to sign a big free agent deal.
Wilson said that if money was the only thing, he would be a Marlin right now. The Marlins were willing to go 6-years and in excess of $100 million in a deal with Wilson. Wilson, however had a strong preference to play in his hometown, Los Angeles. He preferred a chance to play with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as he liked the idea of swinging a bat. Wilson did not want to miss out on a chance of going home though.
Wilson was the guy I preferred the Marlins to sign since the end of the 2011 season. The Marlins had a gaping hole in their rotation. Wilson would have been the perfect number 2 to slide in behind Josh Johnson. He would have been a quality back-up ace in the case that Johnson would not stay healthy. A rotation that featured Josh Johnson, C.J. Wilson, Anibal Sanchez, Mark Buehrle, and Ricky Nolasco would come close to rivaling the Philadelphia Phillies.
Personally, Wilson signing with the Angels hurt me a lot more then losing Pujols. The entire time the Marlins were in pursuit of Pujols, half of me wanted him in Miami because of who he is. The other half was wishing that he would go back to the St. Louis Cardinals and spare the Marlins money.
Pujols ended up signing with the Angels, who came out of nowhere. Wilson followed suit and signed with the Angels hours later. The Angels had effectively stolen the Marlins thunder they had created at the Winter Meetings. All of a sudden, the Marlins were not the big boys at the meetings. The camera were no longer as focused on them.
Once Pujols signed, the rumors about the Marlins interest in Prince Fielder picked up right away. Fans on twitter were clamoring that the Marlins needed Prince after striking out on Pujols. Once again, I was for the Marlins taking a pass on a potential 9 or 10 year deal that would cripple the Marlins payroll going forward.
Luckily, the Marlins never had any real interest in Prince Fielder. The team even told Gaby Sanchez this right after the team lost on Pujols. The team assured Sanchez that he would be in Miami in 2012 once they ended their pursuit of Pujols.
Next up for the Fish was Yoenis Cespedes. The Marlins let it be known publicly their intentions that they really wanted Cespedes. Sampson even said on a radio appearance, that the Marlins would be ready to be “aggressive to the point of stupidity, but not quite there.” The Marlins did follow up on that promise.
Cespedes signed with the Athletics for 4-years $36 million. That is an AAV of $9 million a season for someone unproven. The Marlins felt that Cespedes would need seasoning in the minors. They thought that a 4-year deal would not be enough time for their investment to be returned. Fair enough. Cespedes would have been the perfect fit in Miami, but the Marlins established what they felt was the “point of stupidity,” and as they promised, they stayed away from that point.
The depressing thing for most Marlins fans was not losing Cespedes, it was the mere fact that Emilio Bonifacio would be the starting center fielder for the Miami Marlins in 2012. Most Marlins fans would agree that the Marlins and Bonifacio are both best served when Bonifacio is in a super utility role. Bonifacio had a fine 2011 season, but he is very unlikely to repeat those numbers again.
The question of course that I posed in the title is “How much do the off-season misses hurt the Miami Marlins?”
My answer is not that much. Not signing Pujols or Fielder to the mega-deals that they signed will be beneficial to the team in the long run. The money the Marlins did not spend on C.J. Wilson could be better served on the free agent class of pitchers in 2013. The Marlins can easily look for an upgrade at the 2012 trade deadline if they are not getting what they are wanting from their center fielders.
The pitchers that will hit the free agent market in 2013 include Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Grienke, and Shaun Marcum. It makes complete sense to me why the Marlins never pursued a pitcher that would require a big contract beyond this season after losing out on Wilson. Might be the same reason the Marlins have yet to engage Anibal Sanchez in contract extension talks. Maybe the Marlins are looking forward to the 2013 free agent pitching class.
I also pointed out that the Marlins may scour the trade market for a center fielder around the trade deadline. A name that comes to mind that could be available is Adam Jones. The Baltimore Orioles are unlikely to contend and could make Jones available for the right price. While the Marlins do not seem to have the prospects to match up with the O’s for a potential trade, you better believe they will try their hardest to try and get something done.
In the long run, the Marlins are likely to benefit from not signing Pujols, Fielder, Wilson, or Fielder. In the short term, that is not likely the case.
Pujols and Fielder would have made the Marlins much better right now. The Marlins would no doubt have one of the best lineups in baseball with either. With Wilson, the Marlins would have been able to rival the Phillies as one of the top rotations. Cespedes would have likely spent at least half the season in the minors before being called up, at that time, the Marlins would improve their center field position by adding Cespedes to replace Bonifacio playing everyday.
The Marlins management did the right thing, they recognized that while any Fielder or Pujols would provide the Marlins with a chance to win now, it would cripple them in their future spending.
The Marlins did well, in my opinion this off-season. They could have done better on the Heath Bell and Mark Buerhle deals, but neither are completely outrageous deals.
MarlinManiac’s let me know what you think. What will you remember more this off-season, the Marlins home runs or their strikeouts?
Please vote on the poll and let us know what you think. Are the Marlins good enough to contend this season? That is the most important question.
Tags: Albert Pujols Anibal Sanchez Baltimore Orioles C.J. Wilson Cole Hamels Emilio Bonifacio Featured Gaby Sanchez Hanley Ramirez Josh Johnson Logan Morrison Los Angeles Angels Los Angeles Dodgers Mark Buehrle Miami Marlins Mike Stanton Oakland Athletics Philadelphia Phillies Prince Fielder Ricky Nolasco Shuan Marcum Yoenis Cespedes Zack Grienke