How have the Miami Marlins fared so far in free agency and Hot Stove? Is there enough of an improvement to make them contenders next season?
Now that the Marlins have moved from wishing Santa Claus would bring them more players to change the dynamic of this organization, it’s time to focus on what the team has accomplished.
It’s more than some think.
There has not been that big splash signing, but steady progress, like the hare and the tortoise, could mean a better record in 2020.
There were three key elements the Marlins needed to work on this offseason in free agency. Let’s look at what has happened so far.
Adding More Bats – Based on what has happened so far, I think you could say progress has been made with the potential for more if the team can add Yasiel Puig or Corey Dickerson. If neither of those two and the Marlins front office is feeling a bit jumpy, then maybe Derek Jeter does have a talk with Marcell Ozuna to see about a reunion.
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The fact the Marlins added Jonathan Villar and Jesus Aguilar shows the team was serious about adding power to the order and gives the infield solid defense as well. Villar’s speed and ability to play multiple positions make him a leadoff candidate and a base-stealing threat. Also, the addition of Matt Kemp, even to a minor league deal, cannot be ignored. I guess he wins a spot in camp and will open the season in the outfield.
He can also play first base. It might be the most underrated move of the offseason.
Finding Depth at Catcher – First, the Marlins added depth behind starter Jorge Alfaro by signing Ryan Lavarnway, Santiago Chavez, B.J. Lopez and Brian Navarreto. Then, the team went out and add Francisco Cervelli, a veteran who will help the team behind the dish.
The Marlins need more hitting from Alfaro this season and a better defensive presence. He is tough as nails as he was banged up on several occasions last season. One of Alfaro’s strengths was working with such a young rotation. As he matures with the starting five, the Marlins could see one of the better pitcher-catcher combinations in the Majors.
Also, Alfaro hit 18 home runs last season. With his power, he could approach 25 this coming season, which would be a huge get for this lineup.
Aiding the Bleeding Bullpen – Can we say this is still a work in progress?
There are still questions to be answered here, but it has a better outlook, in my opinion.
The front office could still deal Jose Urena, which would open the door for a minor leaguer to join the staff or the team could sign another arm in free agency. There are holes in the closer’s role and a need for better short-relief depth.
Ryne Stanek, Jarlin Garcia, and Drew Steckenrider all figure to be given a chance to become the team’s closer. Adam Conley figures to be the key set-up man. There are players still out there who could be added to the pen who could give manager Don Mattingly some sense of security.
I believe the Marlins still bring in another arm to help this group. There are veterans on the free agent market who could become low-risk gems for the organization.