The Miami Marlins have a number of positional needs heading into the 2014 season. As it currently stands, the franchise has a bastion of strong play at a couple of spots, but it is riddled with numerous holes left over in the wake of the Toronto Blue Jays fire sale and the trades that occurred before that. Miami also has a limited budget, so it figures to not be a major player in the campaign for big-name free agents like Robinson Cano.
It is important to recognize where the Fish are strong now and where they happen to be weak. This also extends for the Marlins' future, as the franchise may not be as interested in acquiring a long-term solution at a position where an up-and-coming prospect may fill in a few years. Thus, this Fish Stripes positional strength will cover the franchise's short- and long-term statuses at each position in order to consider what the team should do for 2014.
The positional strength report will be written on a 1-10 scale, where one is the weakest position available (no short- or long-term options) and 10 is a position currently occupied or expected to be occupied by a long-term star. Ana average score is around six and is indicative of a position where there is perhaps a decent current option of one coming up the pipeline within the year. This is subjective, but meant to at least provide a scale for readers.
The Marlins have been unstable at catcher for years, and this upcoming season may see the team at its absolute worst. After Rob Brantly flopped in a big way in 2013, the Marlins turned to eater of worlds Jeff Mathis on a regular basis and got exactly what one would expect from Jeff Mathis. Despite the fact that the team has praised him in every way, it is no surprise to hear that the Marlins are searching catching options. The long-term stability of the position is highly questionable too, as Brantly struggled on both ends this year and former catcher of the future Jacob Realmuto forgot how to hit entirely.
First Base: 4
The first base position is hardly inspiring either. Logan Morrison is there, meaning the Marlins have a clear-cut starter. But that starter has not been an average player for two seasons and has struggled with health as well. Behind Morrison are veteran bench players like Greg Dobbs, but the Marlins have no one developing in their minor league system should the franchise finally give up on Morrison.
Second Base: 3
The current crop of Marlins middle infielders leaves much to be desired, but the franchise does have someone in Derek Dietrich coming up soon. Dietrich played admirably in his first Major League run, but he is a highly-flawed player and not exactly a top prospect. Donovan Solano is a capable backup utility infielder, but he is miscast as a long-term starter.
Third Base: 4
The franchise has not had a true third baseman of value since Miguel Cabrera left (and he likely would have had to move away from third in the long haul), but it may have finally drafted one in 2013 in Colin Moran. The University of North Carolina product had a solid first professional go-around and should find his way in High-A Jupiter and possibly Double-A Jacksonville by season's end. The Major League options for the Marlins at third base are dismal, which is why the ranking remains low.
The Marlins have a starting shorstop nominally in Adeiny Hechavarria, but anyone who watched Hechavarria play last season could see that he was not starting-caliber. Hechavarria has a long way to go at the plate to become an acceptable Major Leaguer if he is not going to be a Gold Glove shortstop. The Marlins have top-ten organizational prospect Avery Romero currently playing shortstop, but most prospect experts believe he is not long for the position and better suited for second base.
Left Field: 8
Christian Yelich began last season dominating Double-A when he was not injured, and he showed flashes of strong play in his short two-month stint in the majors last year. He is the undisputed future of the position, and his strong defensive range and contact and on-base approach at the plate should keep the Marlins secure for the next three to four years at least.
Center Field: 6.5
The Marlins did not have a center fielder since the franchise traded Cameron Maybin and allowed Cody Ross to walk for nothing, but the team finally has two competent players ready to compete for the position next year. Marcel Ozuna and Jake Marisnick both showed minor league talent and flashed good play in parts of last year, but neither player has distanced himself from the other. The fact that they both have strong prospect pedigrees makes it more likely that one at least will succeed.
Right Field: 8
The Marlins currently have a star in Giancarlo Stanton at the position, but it is questionable as to whether they will have him after next season. The reason why this rating is still this high is because the team has depth in the outfield, with the loser of the Marisnick / Ozuna battle royal in line to take over for Stanton. There is no guarantee that either player would be good enough, but as long as Stanton remains on the Marlins' roster, there is still a minute chance the team can accomplish the task of signing him long-term.
Starting Rotation: 10
The Marlins appear more than set with their rotation for the future. The club has a bona fide ace in Jose Fernandez with another five years of team control remaining. The franchise also has Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jacob Turner manning the next few rotation spots, with Alvarez and Eovaldi showing above-average play last year. The franchise is also flush with pitching depth, as Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley, and Anthony DeSclafani await at the Double-A or higher level to take over the last two rotation spots in the near future. There is no shortage of depth and good play from this rotation.
The Miami Marlins bullpen is in good order right now, with Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, and A.J. Ramos handling its current status. The team has a few names who could potentially arrive soon, such as recent draftee Colby Suggs, Nick Wittgren, Arquimedes Caminero, and Steven Ames.