We have discussed the various ins and outs of the current Miami Marlins roster, and the only thing left to do is to unveil the 2016 Marlins Offseason Plan to the readership. Today, we will show off the plan, and in the coming days, we will discuss each part of the plan and talk about where the Marlins could go with that portion.
Remember, the Marlins have a projected budget of about $80 million expected in 2016. If they retain all of the players on their current roster, the team is expected only to have about $7 million and change on which to spend on players for the roster. With those kind of restraints, what could the Marlins possibly pull off?
The Overall Plan
1. Trade Martin Prado for prospect help
The Marlins are prepared at the big league level to replace Prado, and he likely does not fit into the team's long-term plans after this season. Prado has only one season remaining on his original four-year contract, and as good as he was for the Fish last year, the club has no need for his league-average services in 2016. The team should test out Derek Dietrich over a longer period of time and evaluate what they have in him before his service time becomes an issue, and third base may be the best place to put him. This move sacrifices the team's stellar defensive work, but it may provide some added pop and allow the team to utilize a younger, cheaper player at the position.
2. Trade Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos
Once again, the Marlins face the same situation that they saw last season in the closer spot. Steve Cishek had established himself as an elite closer, but he was due to earn a lot of money in 2015 and beyond. The Marlins thought he was a core member of the roster, but Cishek struggled so badly that he lost his job to the emerging A.J. Ramos, who took over with a ridiculous first half. His second half, however, left much to be desired, and while his overall season was strong, there are still question marks around his game.
There is a reasonable possibility Ramos never returns to being an All-Star level reliever. The Marlins should not wait around to find out. The righty is set to earn $2.8 million this year in arbitration, and the Fish could save that money by turning to failed starters or other guys they have on the roster or in the minors to serve as relievers. Carter Capps appears like a good choice, injury permitting, for the closer role, and the team will be paying him a lot less in 2016 than they will the save-filled Ramos. The club could capitalize by acquiring depth and sell high on a variable asset.
Dunn makes too much money for his level of performance as of right now, and he is unlikely to be re-signed beyond this season. He fits a similar category as guys like Prado for this team.
3. Sign a middle-tier starting pitcher
The Marlins might trade some names from their current roster, but that may only be to open up at least a little bit of room to sign a mid-tier starter among the large list of available names. Contact-oriented guys like Mike Leake and Doug Fister and other questionable names like Scott Kazmir and Mat Latos are available for signing, and I imagine the Marlins will take a waiver on one of those guys with the money they could save in making the above trades.
Miami is far more likely to acquire a soft-tosser as is their team preference rather than a strikeout machine, so the lean is towards veterans like Leake and Fister. FanGraphs' crowd estimated a $14 million annual value for Leake, which runs the border for Miami's tolerance for pitcher salaries. Fister is estimated to get a more reasonable $10 million and with fewer years attached, which may be more to the team's liking. Kazmir could also be an option coming off a poor post-trade run with the Houston Astros. All of these players may be worth 1.5 to 2.5 wins next season, but would probably be signed for at least two years.
4. Sign a free agent gamble at starting pitcher
There are a couple of names out there in the market among players who could be really useful if they strike right, and the Marlins could acquire one of those guys on a relatively cheaper deal. Cory Luebke, for example, is coming off of three straight missed seasons and two straight Tommy John surgeries. He is a huge risk, but he would come at almost no cost to the Fish, who could take a flyer on him and see if he sticks at even 50 percent of what he did back in 2011 and 2012. The same goes for someone like Brandon Beachy, who was once a bright part of the Braves' future many moons ago.
Injury-riddled guys who are still relatively young could be a nice addition if they happen to play passably. It would not cost the Marlins more than a few million, the kind of money they have thrown out at guys like Ichiro Suzuki or Greg Dobbs in the past. These moves might have some upside.
5. Release one starting pitcher on arbitration
This opens up some more salary space, and this would only be done if the Marlins cannot get a reasonable trade for any of the three starters they have up for arbitration. The most likely release appears to be Henderson Alvarez, who may not have a future on the roster due to recurrent right shoulder injuries. The Fish may opt to simply let him go instead of trying to find a trade partner.
If the team wants to gamble more, they can rely on Alvarez returning at some point next year and try and trade either Tom Koehler or David Phelps, but neither would probably bring back much. Making such a move would, however, have more upside than simply releasing Alvarez, but it would weaken the team's bullpen depth.
6. Consider trading Dee Gordon and/or Marcell Ozuna
The Marlins owe it to themselves to try and deal either of these players for only the best possible returns. A deal for Ozuna would be a sell-low move, and such a play would be far less beneficial to the roster. However, a Gordon deal would be a sell-high maneuver, and that may net the team the top prospects it desperately requires. Gordon is slated to earn nearly $6 million in his second of four arbitration years, so Miami could save money for starting pitching and acquire future talent for the next competitive roster.
What do you guys think of the outline? Too many moves? Not enough? Not the right ones? Let us know in the comments!