Miami had a notably active offseason, and while the club is optimistic with regard to its future, preseason power rankings have not favored the Marlins. Sports on Earth did not rank the Marlins among the top ten, with Miami ranked 20th in ESPN's projections.
While the club has been mostly quiet since the end of the Winter Meetings, Miami got off to a quick start this winter by signing Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year contract. The organization subsequently added Mat Latos, Dee Gordon, Michael Morse, Dan Haren, Martin Prado, and Ichiro Suzuki, and is hoping to have a winning 2015 after improving by 15 wins a season ago. Although the squad will be without Jose Fernandez for most, if not all, of the first half of the season, Miami's rotation is expected to be efficient. The bullpen should also be successful, with the offense hoping to be consistent.
Miami may not have had a large offseason in terms of adding big names, but the additions made will likely help the Marlins improve once again moving forward. The Marlins may not be a playoff team at the start of spring training, but they should at least be ranked with upper tier teams instead of towards the bottom half of the league.
ESPN's David Schoenfield rightfully believes that Giancarlo Stanton is Miami's most intriguing player, and notes that Christian Yelich should be due for a better year in 2015. Yelich has proven he can produce consistently at the major league level regardless of where he hits in the lineup, and as a result, could have an even better 2015. Yelich also won a gold glove in 2014, and with the offensive upgrades the Marlins made, the left-handed hitting Yelich should continue to develop.
While Schoenfield believes Yelich will get better, he suggests that Henderson Alvarez will likely regress. Alvarez posted a 2.65 ERA last season, but Schoenfield thinks Alvarez will finish 2015 with an ERA above 3.00. The Marlins are hoping Alvarez could anchor the rotation until Fernandez returns at some point during the summer, and Alvarez struggling may have a negative effect on the rest of the club's rotation.
The final word: OK, I love the outfield: Stanton, Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Stanton is the oldest of the trio at 25 and all three have All-Star potential. I love Jose Fernandez, but he's not going to be back until late June or so and we don't if he'll be back at full throttle. I think there's a good chance they get very little out of Latos and Haren. The middle infield defense is more flash than substance, at least according to the metrics.
The Marlins want to be in the playoff conversation in September, and Schoenfield's assessment of what the Marlins will get out of Latos and Haren may be a bit premature. Ultimately, time will tell if the Marlins made the right moves this offseason. But they quietly got better, and as a result should be ranked higher than 20.