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Top Marlins MLB free agent targets

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Addressing team needs for the 2019 season without getting too carried away.

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics
Catcher Martin Maldonado can fill the void left by the expected J.T. Realmuto trade
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Hey, Marlins fans! Halfway through November...know what that means? Yeah, the new uniforms & logo are coming out.

But what’s just as exciting—if not MORE—is that we are now just 133 days away from Opening Day! The greatest day on Earth. Lots of excitement is surrounding the franchise. Positive momentum moving forward; exactly what the doctor ordered and what this team & fanbase need. Derek Jeter & Co. have done a superb job engaging & re energizing this community by getting involved with its fan base. Loria who? EXACTLY!

Who’s on first?

Peter O’Brien (28 years old) will have the opportunity to compete with Garrett Cooper (turns 28 next month) for the starting job. Two right-handed bats with pop. Both can also man corner outfield positions when needed. Versatility will be essential for this team.

O’Brien did have (30 HR, 86 RBI) in the minors last year between AA/AAA combined. Can the Miami Gardens product put it together for an entire season at the big league level? Will this be the year he takes it to a whole other level?

Garrett Cooper hasn’t been able to really catch a break. He has been injury prone since being acquired by Gary Denbo (one of first transactions made under the new ownership regime), but we have faith this guy will be able to stay healthy and have a good year. Worst-case scenario, he makes this team as a backup 1B/OF available off the bench with pop. He can make a big impact in clutch situations a la the Wes Helmses of the world.

That being said another, another route to take if you are the Marlins would be to sign someone out of the free agent class to compete with them at first. Even though I’d welcome with open arms a Manny Machado acquisition via free agency, I am also realistic. No doubt, Michael Hill is looking around the market at various positions, and seeing some nice short-term options worth considering. Buy-low, sell-high candidates.


First base

Free agent targets: Steve Pearce, Matt Adams, Pedro Alvarez, Lucas Duda, Mark Reynolds, Daniel Murphy

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Sign left-handed-hitting vet Daniel Murphy to play first. Hear me out for a sec, will ya?

Let’s get past the fact he was a former Met & National. If we want to help establish a winning mentality, why not bring in guys that will help in developing tomorrows stars?

Murphy to the Fish would be like when the Astros got out of Jeff Kent. When Kent arrived at Houston, it was the latter part of his career. He helped the team by covering a hole, while letting younger players develop or simply give teams more time to look for answers for the future. A big clubhouse presence.

Isn’t Murph a second baseman? Yes, but he has played first in the past before. Given his age (33), a transition to first favors him and further prolongs his career.

This Marlins team will need to produce runs, and this guy has a nice track record to help.

Catcher

Free agent targets: Matt Wieters, Wilson Ramos, Martin Maldonado, Jonathan Lucroy

“WILSON!!!!”

Wilson Volleyball Sold in Sporting Good Stores Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Depending if and when we trade J.T. Realmuto, the question will be the void left at the starting catching position. June draft pick Will Banfield won’t be ready for a few more seasons, and Marlins need solid options before he arrives.

Last season, Wilson Ramos batted .306 with 15 HR and 70 RBI while playing backstop for the Rays and Phils. The 31-year-old has battled some injuries in past seasons, but looks like that won’t hold him back moving forward. Since 2011, Ramos has averaged 13 HR—very similar to Realmuto’s career average—while being a consistent, MLB pro.

Also love the fact he is from Venezuela and will fit right in with the community and clubhouse. Fellow countrymen Prado, Hernández, and Rojas will help accommodate and add to the perks in playing for Marlins.

How much will the eight-year vet demand moneywise? He is a two-time All-Star and has won a Silver Slugger Award in 2016. Nice short-term solution.

Relief Pitcher

Free agent targets: Joakim Soria, David Phelps, Jeurys Familia, Jerry Blevins, Andrew Miller

Miami Marlins v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

I love how the Marlins bullpen has evolved into elite levels throughout the 2018 season. Yes, they eventually got taxed with innings, but if they need room for improvement, it’s definitely in the closer role.

With that being said, a guy that comes to mind who is a free agent now and would surely welcome a reunion in South Florida is none other than right-hander David Phelps. The Fish enjoyed tremendous production from Phelps in his tenure in Miami. How could you not want this guy if you are Gary Denbo & Co.? He landed you prospects Brayan Hernandez, Pablo López, Brandon Miller, and Lukas Schiraldi. It’s already a win with López ascending into the major league rotation and Phelps spending all of the 2018 season on the DL.

Phelps has always had electric stuff—nasty two-seamer, great changeup. There’s just the injury risk.

In step the Marlins. Great opportunity here to land a proven guy who’s looking to demonstrate health once again. What better place to log in innings than Miami? Heck, he might even be the closer* we’ve been needing.

*Phelps has only converted five of 20 career save opportunities

We used to get excited about Phelpsie coming into the game or starting them. Our “utility pitcher,” it seemed. You also like the fact he was mentored by the GOAT closer, Mariano Rivera, and might’ve learned a thing or two. Jeter, Denbo: go get him!

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Got to wonder what the asking price is for someone who was once considered one of the top closers in the game a few years back. Jeurys Familia had a strong bounce back last season, converting 17 saves with the Mets before transitioning into a steady setup man with the contending A’s. Still just 29 years old.

If Marlins land Familia and Phelps, that bullpen is going to be bananas next season.


The signings of the Mesa brothers added to an already crowded outfield situation. Just look at the Marlins top 30 prospects list: Víctor Víctor Mesa (1), Monte Harrison (2), Connor Scott (5), Brian Miller (12), Tristian Pompey (16), Thomas Jones (19), Brayan Hernandez (26) and Braxton Lee (29).

Imagine all the possible combinations.

  • Victor Victor, Monte, Anderson.
  • Thomas Jones, Monte, Víctor Víctor
  • Pompey, Scott, Víctor Víctor

I can keep going all day.

A consequence of having so much depth, Brin Diesel might be flipped for a young, controllable player. Best-case scenario: he has a nice rebound year and gets traded. My gut feeling is that will happen.

Galloway and Dean already reached the majors. Like what I’ve seen out of them. These guys will become “expendable” because of their relatively low upside and used as trade chips in the future to ultimately contribute to that winner South Florida deserves. Some teams will need quality outfielders in the future, and like we saw last winter, the Marlins will once again look to raid another farm system to build for their future.

No, the playoffs are not in sight in 2019, but it’s going to be a lot of fun watching the process continue to unfold. Downright exciting. There are some intriguing options worth considering on the market, that’s for sure, but will it make sense to the front office? Time will tell, we #JUSTGETTINSTARTED.