Before we dig in too deep here, I feel the need to acknowledge that the Marlins (along with most other teams in baseball) have shown zero inclination toward signing any major league free agents, potentially dashing hopes that any of this has a chance of taking place.
The cold stove will thaw eventually though, and what way to warm our bitter, jaded hearts then to win back a little good will with a nostalgic contributor to the 2018 Miami Marlins?
We’ve already gone over some low nostalgia acts that might make a few Fish fans smile, but it they didn’t cut it for you, perhaps this group of players will. We’ll call them the high nostalgia group.
Initial Marlins organizational tenure: 2005-2012
You may recall that with Giancarlo Stanton’s departure, there is now no one in the organization who ever played for the Florida Marlins. Signing Anibal Sanchez would rectify that.
Sanchez will be 34 in the 2018 season, but he first came to the Marlins as a rising prospect way back in 2005, when the Fish received him as a part of the package that saw Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota head to the Boston Red Sox. Sanchez debuted in a June 25th start during the 2006 season, where he shut out the New York Yankees through five and two third’s innings.
He would, more famously, go on later in the season to do this:
Sanchez would go on to pitch almost 800 innings for the Fish, between the aforementioned ‘06 season until 2012, when he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for, among others, Jacob Turner. In that stretch, he compiled a 44-45 record and a 3.69 ERA/3.76 FIP. His 12.7 fWAR was good for ninth on the all-time Marlins starting pitcher list.
His tenure with the Tigers started well and he was rewarded in the 2012 off season with a five year, $80 million dollar contract. About halfway through said contract, things began to go south for Sanchez; in 2015, he led the league in home runs allowed (29) despite having his season end early in August due to injury.
In 2016, after a series of rough starts, he was demoted to the bullpen, and his stint there continued into 2017 until he was demoted to AAA on May 22nd. Sanchez returned to the major league rotation on June 19th and stuck there through the end of the season.
Overall, the numbers were ugly and would make you question of dipping in for a second helping of Anibal Sanchez. However, looking past his home runs allowed and ugly surface numbers, we find reasons for optimism. MLive’s Evan Woodbery explains:
“In 2017, Sanchez has struck out batters in 21.3 percent of plate appearances, his best K rate since 2013, when he finished in third place in the Cy Young balloting.
His walk rate is just 6 percent, best since 2014.
His K-BB rate of 15.2 percent puts him in the upper-third of the league among pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched. That’s a tad better than Rick Porcello, who won the American League Cy Young last year.”
Sanchez owns a career .302 BABIP, but last season was tagged at with a .354 BABIP. Even if he’s truly declined, that number seems likely to fall. He seems like a good candidate for a rebound, and might be reasonably priced given the stagnant market and his struggles the past few seasons. If I’m the Marlins, I’m opening the door back up for a reunion.
Initial Marlins Organizational Tenure: 2012-2015
Henderson Alvarez joined the Marlins organization as a part of the massive 12 player swap back in late 2012, and with apologies to Adeiny Hechavarria, was probably the most impactful.
At the least, he is responsible for one of the most memorable performance’s in Miami Marlins’ history:
Despite being oft-injured, Alvarez put up good numbers whenever healthy, becoming an All-Star in 2014 on the strength of what would ultimately become a 2.1 fWAR season. In 2015, he was named the Opening Day Starter, but it all went downhill from there as shoulder issues again cropped up and he was shutdown for good in late July.
After two uneventful stints with the Oakland Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies, Alvarez is a free agent looking for a new home in 2018. The Marlins could do worse than take a flyer on Alvarez, who told Craig Minervini last season while taking in a game from the stands that he would love to come back to Miami.
Initial Marlins Organizational Tenure: 2005-2013
Another player that could bring the Florida back to Marlins, Logan Morrison was a late round draft choice in the 2005 major league draft. After thoroughly destroying pitching during his minor league career, Morrison was finally called up in 2010 to replace an injured Chris Coghlan.
Morrison would prove to be both an entertaining and frustrating player, tantalizing at times with his talent (which he never quite lived up to in a Marlins’ uniform) while raising hackles with his off-the-field antics, particular on twitter.
LoMo was traded to the Seattle Mariners in late 2013 in exchange for Carter Capps. Subsequently, Morrison had three more ho-hum seasons before finally breaking out for the 2017 Tampa Bay Rays, where he hit 38 bombs and provided 3.3 fWAR. Now a free agent, the 30 year old Morrison will look to cash in on the appropriate timing of the best season of his career.
Of the players listed (and to be listed here), I think Morrison is the least likely to return. He might not have fond memories of his time here, and his services are likely to be sought after by teams who are a better fit with more money to spend.
That being said, if Justin Bour is traded, the Marlins will have an opening at first base that needs filling (presuming they don’t want to stick Garrett Cooper there. And given that they could potentially be playing some cominbation of Cooper/Derek Dietrich/Martin Prado in the outfield in 2018, it’s not out of the question that they could decide to punt defense entirely and stick LoMo in the outfield.
It’s a stretch, and I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it would undoubtedly be entertaining if it did.
Initial Marlins Organizational Tenure: 2005-2013
Ricky Nolasco came to the Marlins in a December 2005 trade that sent Juan Pierre to the Chicago Cubs. Little did they know it at the time, but they had just acquired the future all-time Marlins’ leader in wins (79), games started (197), innings pitched (1198.1), and strikeouts (981). His 17.7 fWAR compiled is second only to Josh Johnson.
Nolasco was a fixture in the Marlins rotation from 2008 to mid-2013, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for people who don’t play baseball anymore (ok, Angel Sanchez is in the KBO).
Though he played well for the Dodgers, his subsequent stints with the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels were less than stellar, and he finds himself a free agent on the heels of an unsightly 6-15 W/L record.
That just means he’ll come back to his old stomping grounds on the cheap. The Fish may take a flyer just to see if he can eat up some quality innings for them, like the golden days of yesteryear.
Initial Marlins Organizational Tenure: 2005-2012
HanRam was the second part of the package that came back from the Boston Red Sox in 2005 (alongside Anibal Sanchez).
The only player from either nostalgia list that can claim former face of the franchise status, Ramirez remains high among the Marlins all-time offensive leaderboards in a variety of categories, compiling 30.5 fWAR (second only to Giancarlo Stanton) while sporting an impressive .300/.374/.499 Marlins career triple slash.
Though the 2006 Rookie of the Year was a standout shortstop and then, near the end, a third baseman for the Marlins, he has since had brief stops at left field and first base (and a stint with the Dodgers) before finally settling on DH last season for the Boston Red Sox in the wake of David Ortiz’s retirement.
The Red Sox would dearly love to move Ramirez’s contract as he’s slated to make $22 million this season, and they have incentive to minimize his plate appearances as there is a clause in his deal that would cause his 2018 salary to kick in for 2019 as well if he meets that 497 appearance threshold.
Obviously, this incarnation of the Marlins is not going to trade for $22 million dollars worth of Hanley Ramirez. But it certainly isn’t out of the question that the Red Sox, fed up with the sub-par production in mid-2018, simply release him to avoid his contract triggering for next season.
Why would the Marlins want him back then, you ask? Ramirez isn’t the threat he once was on the basepaths and he struggled offensively last season, but a reversal of BABIP fortune could see him shine again. By that point, who knows what the Marlins roster looks like. A happy reunion at a drastically reduced salary could very well be in the offing.
It might just be time for a change of scenery for HanRam. Sometimes, the best thing for a player is to go back to where they became famous.