Can the Miami Marlins finally escape the bottom of the National League East in 2020?
It was just nine months ago that both the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals were part of as many as 15 major-league teams in pursuit of former Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto.
The Philadelphia Phillies wound up winning that bidding war but did not make the playoffs. The Astros were arguably baseball’s best team this season. The Nationals shocked everyone by taking down the Dodgers then the Cardinals on their way to the World Series.
The Marlins pursuit of 2020 began long before the 2019 season ended. It will continue into the off-season and as the team approaches Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida. This organization must make a way towards mediocrity at best if it wants the fans to continue to buy into what the front office and Derek Jeter are selling.
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There is plenty of hope for the future, but without more wins, whatever Jeter and his cohorts are selling seems like an empty promise.
As Marlin Maniac takes a look into the crystal ball and forecasts the future of this team, there is still a believe there is plenty to be excited about. To further that thought, in the right direction, Miami could approach 75-80 wins.
Here are bold predictions for that to happen.
Yasiel Puig is brought in to play first base – Yasiel Puig has a history of behavioral issues, but there is no denying his power and would be an instant improvement in the cleanup spot in the batting order. While Garrett Cooper has 30-home run potential, his injury history makes him a gamble.
I’m not saying signing Puig isn’t a gamble, but his power and versatility – he can play in the outfield as well – helps Brian Anderson see more pitches. I think the Marlins seek other hitters before making a move toward Puig, but it is an option to seriously consider.
Adam Conley and Jose Urena are released – Or traded. There aren’t spots in the bullpen for either player if the Marlins decide to add a veteran arm or two to help the back end of the pitching staff.
Adam Conley had a disastrous season and may not be tendered an offer this offseason. What was supposed to be a solid season for him fell apart. He could be used as a setup man again if the pieces fit into place with the staff.
Jose Urena may be part of a trade package this offseason for a hitter. There isn’t room for him in the rotation and he proved he is not the right fit for the closer’s role.
Bring back Starlin Castro – I know, it’s $16 million to keep Starlin Castro in a Marlins uniform, but he could be released and re-sign for another deal. The Marlins could sure use his bat.
Castro can play both second and third base and would also move to fifth in the order, giving the team protection around Puig. He hit 22 home runs and 86 RBI last season.
Castro will have suitors this offseason in free agency. I thought he might be traded at the deadline, but he remained on the roster and moved over to third base when the team brought Isan Diaz up from Triple-A New Orleans.