By this point, every Miami Marlins fan knows the story of how they are the only team in baseball yet to sign an MLB free agent this offseason.
However, what many of those same Marlins fans fail to appreciate is that plenty of MLB teams have done very little in free agency thus far. At least in terms of adding elite talent. Miami is in many respects having the same quiet offseason that almost every other team has been going through. The two biggest contracts handed out this offseason were both handed out by the Dodgers. The two best players not named Shohei Ohtani that changed teams this offseason were acquired via trade, with Juan Soto being dealt to the Yankees and Corbin Burnes to Baltimore. All-Star closer Josh Hader finally signed with the Astros a couple weeks ago. Other than that though, most of the top-tier, game changing players that started the offseason as free agents...are still free agents today.
Do the Marlins have the timing right for signing free agents?
What if the Miami Marlins signed one?
I'll give you a moment to stop laughing, and give it some serious thought. What if, after months of shoring up the organization's deficiencies in terms of analytics, player development, and scouting under new President of Baseball Operations Peter Bendix, the Marlins went out and signed one of the best players on the market? How would you feel then about the direction of the franchise?
Simple. You'd be buying any jersey you could get your hands on with said player's name on it. You'd be ordering tickets. You'd be daring to believe more than you ever dared to believe that things might finally be, well, different from everything you've known and endured as a fan of the Miami Marlins baseball team.
Now, do I think in my heart of hearts that the Marlins are actually preparing to do this? No, I do not. Even if it would make a ton of sense for a ton of reasons, it's very likely just not in the cards for Miami financially. And if it is, it's a trick they can only afford to play once. It's one they're saving for a Eury extension, or the first stud hitting prospect they discover and develop with the cast of thousands Bendix just added to the front office. At the very least, for an elite talent that plays a premium position.
Yet, what if I'm wrong?
What if the Marlins are just doing what every other MLB team with thoughts of contending in the next couple seasons is doing, which is just waiting for one of the big name free agents to blink? Just waiting for Scott Boras, the man who puts the word mission in commission, to throw in the towel and realize that no one actually believes Cody Bellinger, Matt Chapman, or Blake Snell are individually worth hundreds of millions of dollars? Or that J.D. Martinez is only getting a one-year deal?
After all, that is exactly what is happening right now in many markets. Sure, maybe the Marlins aren't one of them. Yet at this point it feels safe to say that one of those players is going to take way less than they entered the offseason hoping they would obtain. Perhaps not strictly in terms of AAV, but certainly in terms of total value of the contract. The first Carlos Correa contract comes to mind- $105 million over three years, but with multiple opt outs.
What if the Marlins did that? Just rolled the dice that the player would either vault the club back into the playoffs, or opt out/become a really valuable trade chip, and not become another Avisail Garcia type cautionary tale.
It's the kind of aggressive move that could dramatically alter the fortunes and perception of the Miami Marlins franchise overnight.
Again, I don't see it happening. The reason I bring it up though is that it still could happen. Plenty of signings and trades are still going to happen between now and Opening Day across baseball. The 2023-2024 MLB offseason is still unwritten, and there are a lot of players out there that would seriously improve the Miami Marlins roster. If the prices are starting to fall for the Bellingers Chapmans, and Martinezes of the world, you had better believe they are starting to fall for the Tim Andersons and Jorge Solers. Let's not leave out pitchers either. Adding a Michael Lorenzen before making that Edward Cabrera for Willy Adames trade would make you feel a lot better about those 2024 chances, wouldn't it?
All of the work the Miami Marlins have actually done this offseason implies that a smarter, more fiscally responsible front office is now at the helm. Does that probably mean a big signing isn't coming? Yes. Is watching a team sit on its hands all offseason when it comes to player acquisitions really frustrating as a fan? You bet.
You know what sitting on your hands also is though, at least some of the times?
Sometimes, it's smart. Fiscally responsible even.
Bottom-line, a few weeks from now, Miami Marlins fans might feel very different indeed about their team's offseason.