The Marlins entered the winter meetings with two open slots on the 40 man roster, and, after the completion of the Rule 5 draft, left Nashville with those same spots still unoccupied. The Fish had the seventh slot in the Major League Phase but did not select a player. It might be tempting to believe that the Marlins opted not to pay the 50,000 dollar fee to snag a player in the Major League Phase out of their well known sense of frugality, but it should be noted that eleven other teams (including the Dodgers and Yankees) also chose to pass in this round.
The Marlins did pick up a couple of players in the AAA Phase, however, snagging right-handed pitcher Patrick Johnson from the Pirates and catcher Maxx Tissenbaum from the Rays. They also concluded the day's proceedings by taking right-handed pitcher Juan Caballero from the Cardinals in the AA Phase, the only pick in said round. Chances are good that unless you are a rabid MILB junkie, you've never heard of these guys, and would like to know a little something about them. Glad you asked.
Patrick Johnson was in the Pirates organization for a grand total of three weeks. He was signed in the 25th round of the 2011 Amateur draft by the Colorado Rockies, pitched with them for three seasons, and has spent the last two years with the Sioux City Explorers of the American Association of Independent Baseball. He posted a 2.08 ERA with 132 strikeouts over 134 innings pitched last season. He walked only 40 batters in that span, showing improved command from his stint with the Rockies, doing enough to get signed by the Pirates and then stolen away by the Marlins. The 27 year old right-hander features a fastball that tops out at 94 MPH and solid secondary stuff. Baseball America ranked him the 5th best prospect in Indy baseball prior to his acquisition by Pittsburgh. At worst, the Marlins just got themselves some much needed starting depth to help guard against a repeat of last year's rotation troubles.
Maxx Tissenbaum is a switch-hitting catcher who has four minor league seasons under his belt with a career slash line of .278/.354/.364 to show for it. He was drafted out of Stony Brook University (the same Canadian school Tom Koehler hails from) in 2012 by the San Diego Padres. He spent a couple seasons in the Padres organization before being traded to the Tampa Rays, who converted him from second base to catcher. Apparently they did a nice enough job with the transition that Marlins brass wanted him in the fold, where he will likely serve as catching depth in New Orleans.
He also (for what it's worth) seemed genuinely happy to be with Miami:
Good morning to me? Woke up to a hundred messages and found out I'm now a @Marlins! #GoFish! Super excited!! pic.twitter.com/SLW4wQYfcr— Maxx Tissenbaum (@8_Maxx) December 10, 2015
Juan Caballero is a 23 year old, 6'4 right-handed reliever who's been in the Cardinals organization since 2012. He most recently pitched in Rookie ball for the Johnson City Cardinals, striking out 40 and walking 12 in 36 innings. Other then that, I don't have much. Truth be told, players selected in the AA phase rarely make the majors, but the Fish obviously like something about him, and they also have a history of pulling up minor leaguers quickly if there's a thought they might be able to fill a gap, so...you never know. At the very least, he fills up a spot left behind by one of the four departed Jacksonville Suns.
The haul might not seem impressive on the surface, but we have a recent example in the form of Justin Bour to remind us that these picks have at least a chance to become valuable members of the major league squad in the not so distant future.