As the Miami Marlins "fight" for major league baseball's worst record and the number one pick in the 2016 draft, heads are quickly turning to the impending off-season. 2015 has been another year to forget for baseball in Miami, with the injury bug spreading like wildfire through the clubhouse to go along with some inconsistent production. As a result, the team has now failed to reach the playoffs for 12 straight seasons.
The lengthy and expensive contracts the organization awarded Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich were meant to indicate a change in the way the team does business. However, that change in stance did not produce a change in fortune. After going all in with the trades to acquire Mat Latos, Martin Prado, Dee Gordon and Dan Haren, the Fish are now left with a stripped-down farm system and nothing to show for it.
There is now only one way the team can hope to compete: spend money on free agents. It's ironic that I should say that considering that a copy of "Moneyball" is sitting next to me, but without any minor league depth, the team has no chance of acquiring major league talent via trades, unless they have given up on Tyler Kolek after his less than stellar first season.
Marcell Ozuna has been mentioned as a possible trade chip but shipping him out of Miami will likely only make the lineup worse as the Marlins don't currently have anyone who could effectively replace him. The Fish seem otherwise happy with their lineup, but the real issue with the club has been the starting rotation. Almost every starter has been on the sidelines at some this year. Additionally, Opening Day starter Henderson Alvarez looks set to miss the start of next season after season-ending shoulder surgery.
Jose Fernandez cannot pitch every game, so the team needs to go shopping for some quality arms. The Marlins really could do with signing either Johnny Cueto or David Price and another middle-tier starter. To reach the postseason, a team really needs a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, and Alvarez can't be relied upon to fill that two spot with his injury history.
Price would be the lefty Miami has sought after Mark Buehrle's departure, and Cueto would be a hit with the Dominican supporters. Either player would put the team in a better position to compete. Then there is the task of finding a new manager. The team ideally needs a veteran manager with playoff experience, which won't come cheap.
To improve, the Marlins have to spend money if they want to earn it (and earn a playoff berth). They started down this path when they locked up Stanton, and now have no choice of how to better the team. The Fish need to make a splash this winter.