The 2019 MLB season isn’t over, but that does not mean the Marlins aren’t already planning for 2020. There are plenty of options for this team to consider.
This would be so much easier if the Miami Marlins could use the Magic 8-Ball to answer its most pressing questions heading into the 2020 season. But alas, that isn’t a possibility and therefore we here at Marlin Maniac once again jump into a series of topics that face this winter.
Yes, the times are changing in South Florida. And once again I look at three areas of concern which need answers sooner rather than later.
Where does Brian Anderson fit in the team’s plan for 2020? Everything is contingent on what happens with the players around him. Brian Anderson exited the season with a broken hand while he was having the best season of his career with 20 home runs and 66 RBU. The cornerstone player is pegged to be the franchise’s third baseman of the future, but it might take more time to get to that place.
Anderson is just as comfortable in right field as he is at the hot corner and given the state of the team’s infield right this moment, the outfield may be where Anderson, a homegrown talent, may open the season.
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If the Marlins keep Starlin Castro, he will remain at third base. Isan Diaz is penciled in at second base. Anderson would remain in right field, which then gives Mattingly more stability in the outfield. Should the team move on from Castro, and his $16 million salary, then Anderson goes back to third base and gives the team a solid bat in the second or third spot of the order.
The Marlins should also actively seek a big bat for the outfield in free agency this offseason.
Who closes games in Miami? The Marlins are left with a troubling situation with their bullpen. Jose Urena was brought back from the Injured List after dealing with a herniated disc to fill the vacant closer’s role left when the team traded away Sergio Romo.
There were mixed reviews of Urena’s audition. This wasn’t what the front office or the coaching staff had hoped for. Now, with winter coming and the team assessing needs for next season, does the front office seek another closer, or promote from within?
I think there are two schools of thought on this, with both being correct. The Marlins should look within the organization. Ryne Stanek should get another look. So should Jarlin Garcia. As Joe Frisaro wrote, the team should also consider Jeff Brigham.
In terms of free agency or a trade, the team can only acquire what it wants to spend. In other words, there won’t be any earth-shattering deal for a closer this season, especially since there are needs at first base and in the outfield.
Look for Garcia to get a long look with Brigham another potential player in the mix.
Which minor leaguer will make the 25-man roster? My money is on starting pitcher Nick Neidert coming out of Spring Training and moving into the rotation next season. But with that kind of prediction comes questions about how the team will determine its pitching staff.
If all things are written in stone, to begin with, Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith are first and second in the rotation. Jordan Yamamoto might be third. Elieser Hernandez will move to the bullpen. Robert Dugger may move back to Triple-A. The wild card here is Pablo Lopez, who may become the team’s third, fourth or fifth starter.
Neidert is a season removed from being the Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year. This past season, a meniscus tear cost him time and innings. He looks to bounce back in the Arizona Fall League and then take his array of pitches to Jupiter in February. He could become next Spring’s version of Smith, who beat the odds to make the roster after an injury and becomes a success.
I also think there is still a chance the Marlins grab a veteran out there on the market who is a low-risk option with a high upside.