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Marlins could be competitive "as soon as 2018"

At seven games under .500 in mid-July, it may sound foolish, but the pieces are there for the Marlins to break their playoff drought next year.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Despite early reports to the contrary, and rival GMs seemingly circling around the Miami Marlins like vultures, the team does not appear like they are about to engage in another fire sale even though they are ten games back in the Wild Card hunt and 13.5 games behind the Nationals in the NL East.

With sale talks regarding the franchise still ongoing, it seems as though the roster will remain largely intact so that the new ownership group can decide the direction of the Marlins when they are sworn in. In terms of the team's competitiveness in the short-term, this is the best possible situation.

2017 was always going to be challenging for Miami due to the uncertainty in the starting rotation, and that has turned out to be true, perhaps more so than the front office anticipated. To sum things up perfectly, Adam Conley and his 7.53 ERA on the season is set to start for the Marlins tonight.

Although the rotation has been horrible and the bullpen sub-par, Miami's hitters have shone through this season. Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna were named All-Stars, Justin Bour has already hit 21 bombs (his career high for a season is 23), Christian Yelich is rebounding from a tough start, and J.T. Realmuto is hitting over .300.

The pieces are there offensively for the Marlins, and adding a bona-fide ace in the off-season would turn this team into a contender as soon as next year. The new owners will be able to see that, and will hopefully have deep enough pockets to bare the financial burden.

While there will be an emphasis on connecting with the Latin American community and trying to bring in baseball stars with a similar background, two Japanese stars could be available this winter, and landing one of them would be important in continuing to secure lucrative Asian sponsorship deals considering that Ichiro Suzuki is likely to leave at the end of 2017.

Yu Darvish may have taken a slight step back since his return from Tommy John surgery last season, but when he is on his A-game he is Cy Young award worthy, and at only 30 years old he has a few good years left in the tank. Then there is Japan's Babe Ruth, Shohei Otani, although the new international spending cap system may force him to wait a few more years until he is old enough for the cap not to apply anymore, so that he can sign for what he is actually worth.

It is unknown how much the new ownership group will want to spend when they take over, or if they will want to rebuild, but there is now a growing sense (outside of Miami, too) that the Marlins are a quality starting pitcher or two away from contending considering how good the team is offensively, and that opportunity to win now may be hard for the new owners to resist.