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For some Major League Baseball fans, April is the best time of the year, simply because their respective teams are still in the hunt. After improving by 15 wins in 2014, the Miami Marlins are looking to compete for a playoff spot next season. Where would you rank the each of the Marlins' offseason moves? Which made for the best present?
5. Allowing Rob Brantly to be claimed off waivers
Simply put, the Marlins have a notable amount of catching depth. Although Jarrod Saltalamacchia was inconsistent offensively last year, Miami is confident in his ability to bounce back and manage a young pitching staff. Jeff Mathis is a veteran who will be the Marlins' backup catcher once again in 2015, and soon, J.T. Realmuto will be major league ready.
The Marlins first gave Brantly a try in 2012, and he responded by batting .290 in 31 games. However, he batted just .211 in 67 games in 2013, and did not see time with the major league club last season. Miami kept Brantly for experience and depth purposes, and while he has the potential (left-handed bat) to be a solid major league player, he just could not get hot for the Marlins. Holding on to Brantly would not have been a bad option, however doing so might have hurt Realmuto's development.
4. Acquiring Mat Latos
It was no secret the Marlins were looking for a veteran starter this offseason, and left the Winter Meetings with one after trading for Mat Latos. Latos is a South Florida native, and should be able to anchor the rotation until Jose Fernandez gets healthy. Although he has had injury trouble in the past, a healthy Latos would boost the starting rotation significantly and give the Marlins flexibility at the back end of the rotation.
Miami was reportedly considering David Price, James Shields, and Rick Porcello, among others, but Latos will likely prove to be the most cost effective option who the Marlins can part ways with beyond 2015 if things do not go as planned.
3. Adding Dee Gordon
After 2015, who would have had more success as a Marlins leadoff man? Rafael Furcal or Dee Gordon?
Furcal struggled to stay healthy last season, and as a result, the Marlins were forced to place Christian Yelich in the leadoff spot. Yelich had a solid season, although is seen as more of a second or third hitter. Gordon individually stole more bases than the entire Marlins roster in 2014, and brings speed at the top of the order that has seemingly been missing since Emilio Bonifacio batted in the leadoff spot.
Although his career on-base percentage is .314, Gordon should thrive at Marlins Park. Miami was not planning on using its top pitching prospect (Andrew Heaney) in a trade for a second baseman, but Gordon is an upgrade both offensively and defensively at second base.
2. Signing Michael Morse
The Marlins have not had consistent offense from their first baseman over the last few seasons, and as a result were rightfully seeking an upgrade. Adam LaRoche turned down the club's initial two-year, $20 million offer, making the Morse signing the next best thing. After trading numerous starting pitchers this offseason, the Marlins did not want to yield another arm in a deal for another starting infielder. Morse is a South Florida product who should thrive in Miami's lineup.
Morse is excited about playing in Miami, and should benefit from hitting behind Giancarlo Stanton. He is a veteran with playoff experience, and should prove to be an upgrade over Garrett Jones.
1. Extending Giancarlo Stanton
It was the first thing the Marlins wanted to do this offseason, and deserves to be deemed the best offseason present. Stanton should remain in Miami for at least the next few seasons, and will continue to help a young core grow.
At this point, the details of the contract do not need to be discussed in detail. If a deal did not get done, Stanton likely would have been traded to Boston or Los Angeles, which likely would have led to another rebuilding year, at the least. If he can remain healthy, Stanton will continue to be one of the best young players in all of baseball, making the contract that much more notable.