With the 2013 season in the rear view mirror, the writers at Marlin Maniac are going to bring you a list of potential free agents that the Miami Marlins could target over the winter. It is no secret that the Marlins offense struggled mightily last year, and the foremost task for new GM Dan Jennings needs to be acquiring some solid bats to upgrade the lineup. Since many positions have upwards of 20 free agents, we will select the best and most likely to sign with the Marlins. We will also be splitting each position into multiple posts if necessary. If you want to add another person to the potential list, feel free to do so in the comments below. Today we are going to start with the free agent catchers.
Without a doubt, the prize catcher this offseason will be the power hitting catcher from Atlanta. With the emergence of Evan Gattis, the Braves now view McCann as expendable and are highly unlikely to resign the left-handed hitter. McCann is still relatively young as he turns 30 next year. Teams will certainly be cautious with McCann due to his injury history, particularly recently.
That being said, Not many catchers can bat in the middle of the order, which McCann can do. He should provide at least 20 home runs and certainly knows how to manage a pitching staff. He is a decent defender, with a solid arm. He is also the self-appointed arbitrator of the unwritten rules (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).
I expect McCann to sign a contract in the 4 year, 56 million dollar range. I believe that the front-runner is the New York Yankees, and they may offer even more than 56 million. Also the Rangers and Red Sox are potential suitors, just because of their expanded payrolls. I believe this is the type of player that the Marlins will go after this offseason. That being said, I don’t think that the Marlins have much of a chance of signing the catcher.
At this point in his career, McCann has to be interested in chasing a championship, which seems a ways off for the Marlins. The lure of the DH in the American League also will have some sway for McCann. In the long run, I believe it is a good thing if the Marlins don’t sign him. I think that McCann will continue to break down and the contract that he signs will end up being viewed as a mistake.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 2/10
“Salty” was an instrumental part of the World Champion Boston Red Sox run this season. It was a bit surprising that Boston chose not to make a qualifying offer to him, allowing another team to sign him without forfeiting a first round draft pick. Salty should make sure that he takes Ben Cherrington out to a nice steak dinner because that move alone probably added 1-2 million dollars onto Salty’s upcoming contract.
Jarrod is another power hitting catcher, but doesn’t hit for average or get on base like McCann does. The switch-hitter also struggles hitting from the right side of the plate. Optimally deployed in a platoon situation, Salty will be paid like a full-time starter this off-season. Another one of Salty’s deficiencies is his defense. I don’t want to say that he is revolving door for base-stealers, but he does very little to slow anyone down.
After the Marlins mega-trade with the Blue Jays last year, the Marlins will likely need to overpay to lure a top free agent to Miami. I could see this being the case with Saltalamacchia. The problem I have with a Saltalamacchia acquisition, is we have the exact same player a few years younger in Rob Brantly. I would rather develop him than pay Salty a 3 year 30 million dollar contract, which is what I expect someone to pay him.
I foresee Jarrod resigning with the Red Sox. He loves it in Boston and there will be a lure to defend their championship. If Boston loses out on the McCann sweepstakes, expect Salty to be snatched up quickly on a long-term deal.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 4/10
The Phildelphia Phillies backstop is the exact type of player that I would look to sign if I were running the Marlins (Loria and I would never get along though). Ruiz will be affordable based on a decline in production this past year and a suspension for a banned substance. He is 35 years-old and you may be wondering why I think the Marlins should sign him.
The easy answer is, he will provide the most production for the cost. He is a temporary answer which allows the Marlins to see if Brantly is a lost cause or the catcher of the future. He is a solid veteran who can mentor Brantly which is exactly what the Marlins need. He is only two years removed from receiving MVP votes in the National League, and the Marlins can expect last year to be more of an outlier based on the difficult circumstances that he went through.
I expect a strong bounce back season from Ruiz, a noted Marlin killer. He seems to always get big hits against Miami, which won’t be lost on the Marlins front office. The hurdle for Miami will be Ruiz’s desire to stay in Philadelphia. I think the Phillies are going to offer him a 2 year contract in the 15 million dollar range. I think this will be the Marlins opportunity. If they offer him a 3 year deal worth 20 million, I think he may sign with them. I have my fingers crossed.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 7/10