Will the Miami Marlins stick to their plan to build through their minor league system or will they look add veteran pitching depth in free agency?
Looking at the Marlins minor league system, you get the feeling the next five years could be the start of something big within the organization. The blueprint we continue to refer to seems to be the right move for the franchise, even if the wait for success is not what many fans want to see or hear about.
Fans in South Florida have a right to be a bit angry at how long it has taken to for Miami to post a winning record or this organization has tasted a playoff berth. For those of you counting a home, the Marlins haven’t played winning baseball since 2009 and weren’t in a playoff race since 2016. The last time they reached the playoffs was 2003 when they captured their second World Series title.
My son was four at the time and when I found out he was a lefty, I almost cried. By the way, he doesn’t like baseball and never wanted to play the game.
The Marlins have one of the lowest payrolls in all of MLB and should continue that path in 2020 as they once again trim more salary with the release of veterans and shy away from signing big-name free agents to monster deals. Miami does need veteran balance on its roster, which makes the decision to keep someone like Neil Walker or try to negotiate a different deal with Starlin Castro a possibility.
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And for the love of everything baseball, please find a way to keep Martin Prado in the organization.
I’m most interested to see what the front office does with the pitching staff as the team still needs a quality veteran in the rotation. Sandy Alcantara looks to be ready to take the next step as an ace of the front five. Caleb Smith led the team with 10 wins, but the long ball hurt him mightily on the road.
The other starters, which were a combination of young arms including Trevor Richards, who was traded, Jose Urena, Jordan Yamamoto, Zac Gallen (traded) Elieser Hernandez, Robert Dugger, and Pablo Lopez, didn’t exactly wow anyone for any extended period of time.
Yamamoto was on fire with four straight wins once he was called up from Double-A Jacksonville, but he had consistency and injury issues as well.
Could the Marlins front office, I mean Derek Jeter and Michael Hill, flip the script and look to sign a front-line starter to help the team get past its growing pains on the mound. The last time the Marlins had a true dominant starter was 2016 and Jose Fernandez won 16 games before his untimely death.
Felix Hernandez is a name that we have discussed before as a possible free agent on the team’s radar and a veteran who still may have something left in the tank. I think it’s worth a shot for the front office to kick the tires on a minor league deal where the 33-year-old would be a solid fifth starter in this rotation.
"“We’ll see if I can find a job. I’m not retiring,” Hernandez said following the final game of his career in a Mariners’ uniform."
I wrote about this back in September here on Marlin Maniac.
"“It’s the kind of move that makes plenty of sense given he may not cost the Marlins much in the way of salary, but he could become a valuable asset that is worth more than what the team will have to spend.”"
There are others to consider as well. Gio Gonzalez, who played high school ball at Monsignor Edward Pace HS in Miami Gardens. Miami could also make a pitch to Jake Odorizzini. And if the front office is thinking “big” there will be plenty of suitors for Madison Bumgardner.
In any event, the Marlins should kick the tires on every possible scenario if it helps make the team and the rotation better. Because the bullpen is shaky and the closer may not be on the roster yet (Sergio Romo), Miami must make sure its rotation is better than last season, while keeping the majority of the parts intact.
Depth in the minors was the major reason both Richards and Gallen were traded for hitting prospects. Now, the organization must work to solidify the strength of the team. A better rotation means more opportunity if the lineup struggles like it did last season. Miami has a chance to prove good pitching certainly outweighs good hitting on a ball club like this one.