The Miami Marlins really want to compete in 2015. Every team begins the offseason with the goal of improving the roster. The San Diego Padres signed James Shields on Monday and have done just that this winter. But the Marlins are not very far behind.
In the past, the Marlins have reportedly been interested in major free agents, only to be outbid by a larger market team. But the Marlins are no longer that small market team. The club's front office, led by General Manager Dan Jennings and President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill, has been notably active. The group has quietly had one of the most productive offseasons, and only added and subtracted when it made sense. Not every move will work out, and that much is expected. The good must just simply outweigh the bad.
It is challenging for most to forget about the 2012 fire sale. Salaries were dumped, veteran players were dealt, and young and unproven prospects were received. Maybe that group, led by Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson deserved a bit more time. Larry Beinfest was the General Manager at the time, and it would not be right to compare him to Jennings because Jennings has not had the title long enough. As of right now, though, Jennings has been significantly more effective. Owner Jeffrey Loria has consistently said (of the 2012 team and moves) it did not work. And maybe he was right.
Miami has added Dan Haren, Mat Latos, Martin Prado, Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, Ichiro Suzuki, and David Phelps this offseason. And the fact that the club was still in pursuit of Shields reveals there is a serious and legitimate focus on winning. ESPN's Buster Olney reported there are some industry sources who believe the Marlins made the highest offer to Shields. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro noted the club gave up on adding Shields when the bidding exceeded $70 million.
Ultimately, the Marlins deserve credit for the way they handled the Shields situation. They monitored it closely. They saw a chance to upgrade, but did not want to make a move that would negatively affect the future. And they knew exactly what the parameters were throughout the entire pursuit. In order to make a competitive offer to Shields, the front office likely would have had to receive permission from Loria. So maybe he has changed, too.
The Marlins were among the more active teams this offseason, and that should only prove to be beneficial moving forward. Maybe it is because of the Stanton contract. Or maybe the club just wants to win. What if the Marlins are a piece or two away from competing for a playoff spot? The expectation should be the club will make the necessary moves. Based on this offseason, the expectation should prove to become a reality.
Miami, as a city, is tired of losing. The Dolphins ended the season 8-8. The Heat are simply not the same without Lebron James. The Panthers are attempting to remain competitive. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a number of days, and the Marlins deserve some attention. Like it or not, the Marlins are actually trying to win. And that should start paying off this April.