The Miami Marlins accomplished the first aspect of the Marlins Offseason Plan by signing Giancarlo Stanton to the monster 13-year, $325 million contract he so richly deserved. But the Fish did something very interesting along the way: Miami opened up some payroll space by signing Stanton to a cheaper deal earlier in his career. The Fish therefore found themselves with more room than expected, especially since they planned to up the payroll space to $65 million this upcoming season.
With the added room with which to play, we too should adjust our setup for the 2015 Marlins Offseason Plan, which we were unable to finish discussing before the Stanton deal came about and shocked the world. But now that the dust has settled on that contract, we should focus on the next parts of the plan ahead of the upcoming Winter Meetings.
Keep in mind that while this is what I would do as Marlins GM, this is by no means an indication of what the Marlins will do. The Fish seem to be focused on working on other areas of the franchise, but my plan will look to use the salary space in a different fashion.
Revision of Plan
The overall goal of this plan for the Marlins is to create a franchise that models itself exactly around the things that the Fish say they value. This Marlins club will try to find value from fielding and pitching, as the front office always seems to laud but never actually delivers. To do this, I plan on trading players from an expendable, deep area of the franchise and acquire position players at place of need. It just so happens that those two position players are considered elite defenders at their positions.
To do this, the Marlins will have to be slightly more creative and move some players to different positions. Given that the positions Miami needs to fill only offer low-quality options, the Fish need to get creative to figure out the best medium-term plan.
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2. Trade Steve Cishek for Alexei Ramirez
This one is a tough puzzle to crack, but it has fits on both sides. As much as Miami may fail to recognize this, they have a need at either shortstop or second base. Even if you ask Ramirez to cover second, there is a strong chance he will put up a highly positive season playing at a position easier than shortstop, where he has been Gold Glove-caliber by multiple sources over the course of his career. The slick-fielding Ramirez would provide Miami at least an average player at second base, where currently the Fish are flush with mediocre internal options.
It would cost the Marlins Steve Cishek, their most expendable trade chip. Cishek is a closer, and by the nature of the job, closing can be replaced. The Fish have not had this strong a player at the spot since Armando Benitez in 2004, but the team has a few options internally who are ready to replace him. The impact of losing 60 innings of Cishek will get shifted down as Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Carter Capps and others shift up a bit in the lineup. That means the loss of Cishek is dulled slightly compared to the immediate gain of Ramirez over replacement-level options like Donovan Solano or unknowns like Enrique Hernandez or Derek Dietrich.
More importantly, the Marlins get an elite up-the-middle tandem in Ramirez and Hechavarria. Given the ground ball rates for the pitchers on the team, having vacuums in the infield seems important. To make this happen, Miami may have to part with a pitching prospect, and they may get an infield prospect in return. It would all be beneficial for both sides.
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3. Sign Chase Headley to a four-year contract
Again, this is a move with defense and fielding in mind. Casey McGehee performed admirably at third base last season, but he is not a defensive whiz despite not committing many errors. This was not bad, but it is not fantastic either. Moving McGehee to first base will diminish his value, but he only serves as a stopgap and platoon partner for the ignominious Garrett Jones anyway. The crux of the deal is acquiring a premiere defensive third baseman like Chase Headley, who would instantly shore up the left side of the infield.
The concern over Headley has always been that his bat has never impressed. But you have to remember that Headley has hit in big parks before, having grown up in San Diego at Petco Park. The large dimensions of Marlins Park should not bother Headley's line significantly, and that line is one that is 14 percent better than league average for his career (.265/.347/.409) and 23 percent better than average since 2012 (.262/.352/.429). Only eight players with regular playing time at third base have been better than Headley by wRC+ since 2012, meaning his bat has not been anything to worry about.
The question is whether Miami will commit four years to the 31-year-old, as that appears to be at least what he is seeking. What price will Headley request after seeing Pablo Sandoval sign for $19 million a season? That remains to be answered, but it should be less than what the Fish would owe in signing (and surrendering a draft pick) for James Shields.
What do you Fish Stripers think of the revised plan? Let us know!