Signing Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term extension was only the beginning for the Marlins. The organization is looking to add a bat to protect Stanton in the lineup when the Winter Meetings begin on Sunday, and MLB.com's Joe Frisaro notes that the club would like to add a starting pitcher to give them depth within the rotation until Jose Fernandez returns next summer.
Miami is in "win-now" mode coming off of the extension and heading into 2015, and appears prepared to raise the payroll as necessary. The Marlins will likely be responsible for $65 million next season, but have some flexibility considering Stanton's contract is backloaded. The 2015 meetings will take place in San Diego, and in addition to a power bat the Marlins might also be open to adding a second baseman. Derek Dietrich and Enrique Hernandez are internal candidates for the job.
The Marlins' first trade after extending Stanton was likely made to improve the bullpen. In an under the radar move, Miami sent Brian Flynn and Reid Redman to the Royals in exchange for Aaron Crow. Crow has closing experience but could also compete for a starting job come next spring.
Although they will initially get a feel for the market and start negotiating with players, the Marlins will continue to attempt to lock up their core players in California. Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez, and Adeiny Hechavarria are all extension candidates, with all but Ozuna receiving offers to this point. President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill told Frisaro that those conversations will be ongoing but that they should pick up when the meetings begin.
Miami notably added Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell at the meetings in 2012, and last season introduced Jarrod Saltalamacchia and traded Casey McGehee.
Despite the fact that some of the players they have signed in recent years, including Bell and Garrett Jones, have not been successful, the Marlins appear to have the right approach. They are looking to protect Stanton while keeping a balance of left and right-handed arms and bats, and are willing to part with top prospects if necessary.
Coming off of a 2014 campaign during which they improved by 15 wins, the Marlins should improve in 2015. The moves they make over the next week will dictate whether such success is realistic.