The Miami Marlins are likely set for the 2015 season. The franchise is ready to go with a player at each critical spot, and with the signing of Ichiro Suzuki to be the team's fourth outfielder, the franchise is all but set. With the offseason likely at an end, we can finally recap the overall performance of the front office this offseason.
The set of moves Miami pulled off this year had its ups and downs. There was one unquestionably good move that will be a big part of the future of the franchise for years to come. There was one highly controversial move that likely set the team back in terms of its youth movement. The other moves had varying levels of success and were received differently. They added up to a significant amount of addition to the roster in terms of wins, and it has propelled Miami to at least around the .500 mark or a bit above that. It also kept the Fish at their budget level, which was impressive given the desire to stay at around $65 million. But the question remains whether Miami did enough to put itself in the conversation for contention for the NL Wild Card.
Giancarlo Stanton Signing
We start with the most important and the most positive move of the offseason. Signing Stanton was critical this year, because the alternative would have almost certainly been to trade him and let yet another superstar player slip past the Marlins and on to greener pastures. The Fish made sure that would not be the case with a killer deal for both them and Stanton. The Fish offer the largest contract in American sports history, a monster 13-year, $325 million contract, to a player who just turned 25 two months ago. At the same time, they gave him a player option to leave six years into the deal, but the first six years are backloaded to provide less than market value salary at just over $100 million. It was a stunning victory on both fronts for the team and the player, and a great win for the franchise.
Dee Gordon - Andrew Heaney Trade
The most controversial move of the offseason was the acquisition of Dee Gordon and a seemingly disgruntled Dan Haren for a bevy of players featuring top prospect Andrew Heaney, In Gordon, the Marlins are gambling that they can get the version of him they saw in early 2014, but it is hard to see the upside in Gordon's game. At the same time, the Fish did acquire a second baseman who could cover the position for the next four years if needed, and this may be important given that Miami is short on infield prospects in the minors.
Ultimately, the problem was that the Fish paid too steep a cost for just Gordon, a flawed player with one spectacular skill, and Haren, who did not want to be anywhere but southern California. Haren will come to Spring Training for Miami, and he is coming free of charge for the Fish, but he may play worse than ideally given his preference to stay in California. For that, the team gave up its best prospect and a slew of other players, including a useful reliever from last year, an intriguing middle infield / catching prospect, and a utility player with some promise. For that cost, Miami should have gotten cost-controlled years of a player with a little higher floor.
Mat Latos Trade
The trade for the final season of Mat Latos was a far more reasonable move. The Marlins are banking on Latos returning to a semblance of his old self, and that the lost velocity over the course of the 2014 season was a product of an ongoing shoulder injury that he has since had repaired. Miami did take a risk pursuing someone who may have been seen as damaged goods, but Latos has a strong history behind him. In no season before this past one was his velocity an issue, not was his ERA ever worse than league average. Even last season, his ERA and FIP were both at least a bit better than league average despite all of his issues. For that, Miami traded Anthony DeSclafani, who has a ceiling as a back-end starter but is another high-floor player with a relief possibility, and Chad Wallach, who was expendable in the system with J.T. Realmuto at the top. This addressed one of Miami's concerns and brought a native Miamian home.
Michael Morse signing
The Morse signing was a reasonable play at a decent cost. Miami opted to pay half the price for an Adam LaRoche to get a younger player and move him to the correct position. The Fish are still probably paying more than a decent amount for a player who has defensive questions, but Morse's bat is definitely an addition to the lineup after last year's disaster with Garrett Jones. Morse has spent the better part of his career in difficult parks and has a career .281/.335/.473 (.351 wOBA), and he proved last year he does not necessarily have an issue hitting in a pitcher's park that is not easy on home runs. It's not a steal, but it was a reasonable move.
Martin Prado - Nathan Eovaldi Trade
This is a mostly sideways move for the Marlins, and it traded a cost-controlled decent player who was misunderstood in Eovaldi for a surefire bet in Prado. The Marlins also shed Jones's $5 million salary by trading another young pitching prospect from its depleted banks. Prado fills a need and is a guaranteed amount of wins, whereas Eovaldi could have spit out a larger variance of seasons in 2015. The Fish wanted to be certain to get 2.5 wins from the third base position, but in return, the team lost the upside of Eovaldi, and they probably did so becauase they missed out on analyzing their pitchers correctly. Eovaldi could turn out to be a big coup for the suddenly younger Yankees.
Aaron Crow Trade
Ichiro Suzuki Signing
The $2 million may have been better served going to a player who would play more regularly, but ultimately this deal was to ensure that a popular player with a very small chance at a career milestone played fourth outfielder for the Fish. Given that Miami wasn't spending much more anyway, there are worse signings.
Overall Grade: B-
The Marlins made a number of bad moves, most notably the Dee Gordon trade that could set the club back for a while by depleting its already depleted minor league system. But signing Giancarlo Stanton was what made everything worth it, and his signing is critical not only to the 2015 season and the immediate future but to the franchise's long-term outlook. Even if he stays for just six seasons, the Marlins have guaranteed themselves some level of credibility by retaining their star player.
What did you think of the Marlins' moves for 2015? Which was your favorite? Which did you despise? Let us know in the comments!