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Fish Stripes Staff Roundtable: Marlins rebrand, Realmuto trade fits, Mattingly’s future

Previewing the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings and tackling big-picture issues from the Marlins’ perspective.

J.T. Realmuto and Ronald Acuña Jr. Former teammates in Japan, future teammates in Atlanta?
Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

Five questions, 14 perspectives, one article. Welcome to the second installment of the Fish Stripes Staff Roundtable. Every few months, I’ll cook up some compelling topics concerning the present and future of the Marlins—or baseball in general—and ask the crew to weigh in. We’ve got a great conversation this time with the MLB Winter Meetings looming next week.

The following responses have been lightly edited. —Ely Sussman

1. How do you feel about the Marlins rebrand—logo/uniforms/merchandise—and the marketing campaign around it?

Ian Smith: Overall I think the campaign was executed nicely. At some points of it the length seemed drawn out, but the build up worked out. Involving the community and different neighborhoods was an extremely smart thing to do. Also want to say I think Dímelo campaign was the best idea so far of the rebrand.

Daniel Martinez: The rebranding was excellently executed, and the final outcome is something to be proud of. #OurColores, the stadium upgrades, the logos and unis, new ownership got it right. And sale numbers seem to reflect the excitement!

David Phillips: I’m annoyed that the Marlins gear I purchased within the past couple years is now outdated, but I suppose it will be retro and cool soon enough. But I get it, and I’ve enjoyed the #OurColores campaign and think it’s good for the city and the team.

Aram Leighton: To me, whether or not you like the jerseys or logo is totally subjective. What isn’t subjective is the fact that the Marlins are marketing themselves in a way we have never seen. The community involvement from handing out hats at local establishments to painting murals all over Miami is an effort to connect with the city of Miami that has been lacking.

Mike Picardi: I personally like the new colors, logo, and uniforms. But the most important part of this is in my mind is that they are prioritizing the fan base in all of it, from the social media campaign, to the events around town, to the Dímelo campaign. It symbolizes the renewed effort to repair the relationship with the community.

Ethan Budowsky: I’m a big fan of the new rebrand. I think the colors actually are very Miami this time and really do represent our city well.

The last colors were a weak attempt at them by a man who proved time and time again how little he really knew about this city throughout his tenure here. Bowers, Jeter and the gang did a great job with capturing Miami in the logo, and even more so in the promotion of the rebrand which I think was the best part of the whole thing.

Mitch Custer: It’s great. Colors are great, marketing was well done, not huge on the 3D baseball part of the logo, but overall a nice change.

Red Garcia: Needed to be done. Any memory of past ownership has to go. The campaign dragged on a little bit, but at the end of it I was satisfied. Uniforms and logo get an A in my book.

Hector Rodriguez: I like it. It’s a fresh start for the Miami Marlins under new ownership. The logo is nicer and the Marlins are really trying to get the community around the Marlins.

Alex Carver: The Marlins did well in executing the rebrand and in getting the city of Miami involved. Giving a nod to the old minor league team that first held the name Miami Marlins was a nice touch as was the entire #OurColores campaign that kept fans involved and built excitement. My only complaint is that I wish they would have honored the franchise’s past in some way, via pinstripes or some other subtlety. Hopefully that will be done in some other way, somewhere around the park or via retiring our first number. Overall, the rebrand gets an A from me.

Josean Santos: I personally really like how they executed the rebrand and the video that came along with it. The colors scream “Miami” and the way they look in person under the light is exquisite. The colors represent the community well.

Cornelius Thomas: I’m a big fan of the rebrand and the logo speaks to the uniqueness, excitement, and the energy of the Miami area. The colors represent a vibrant area and community that welcomes these traits stated above. I think the build-up to the logo change also helped to develop an excitement level for the fan base that will extend past its introduction and release to the public. It helps to have the rebrand at this time to align with such a critical time period in the organization’s existence.

Alex Krutchik: They have done a great job further distancing themselves from the old regime. Catering to the Latin community has seemed great, they just need to make sure they try to represent all cultures from around South Florida.

Jesse Nieves: The blue has a nice warm tone to it. I think overall it is very easy on the eyes and the merch reflects that. The overall marketing felt a bit lackluster.

2. Name your favorite (realistic) free agent targets for the Marlins?

Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

Ian Smith: My Top five free agent targets for the Fish are Cody Allen, Matt Adams, Wilmer Flores, Cameron Rupp, and Jake Diekman.

Daniel Martinez: Catcher—Martín Maldonado or Cameron Rupp; First Base—Matt Adams; Outfield—Avisaíl García or Jon Jay; Pitcher—Cody Allen.

David Phillips: Anyone who will come and play for less than $3 million a year is good by me. I think some old Marlins would be fun and probably cheap like Hanley, Bour, LoMo. They’re all first base/corner outfield types, so there won’t be room for all of them.

Aram Leighton: The Marlins are in the market for one-year guys that they can flip at the deadline much like Cameron Maybin. Fortunately for the Fish, the market is flooded with guys like that. Logan Morrison or Wilmer Flores would be great fits at first and cheap options. Martín Maldonado would be ideal at catcher, but Drew Butera or Devin Mesoraco are likely more realistic. As for relievers, you can take your pick. A David Phelps reunion isn’t far fetched, Jim Johnson could come on a one-year deal. Don’t expect anything too exciting.

Mike Picardi: I’m looking at catcher, first base and corner outfield guys, preferably with some power. Martín Maldonado would be a catching option. At first, I would like maybe a Matt Adams or Lucas Duda type, or possibly Pedro Álvarez, who they just invited to camp.

In the outfield, I would obviously love a guy like Marwin Gonzalez or Carlos Gonzalez, but those guys will likely price themselves out of what the Marlins are looking to do. Picking up a guy like Cameron Maybin or Jon Jay might be more realistic.

Ethan Budowsky: Logan Morrison and Hanley Ramrez are two guys I think the Marlins should go after. While I think this is more nostalgic than strategic, it could be good for all these young guys to have leaders in the clubhouse that know the organization and have been here before as they journey into the new era of Marlins baseball. From a strategic standpoint, I think Martín Maldonado would be a great option behind the plate for the hole that I think inevitably will be vacated by Realmuto.

Mitch Custer: Justin Wilson, AJ Ramos, Matt Shoemaker, Gio Gonzalez, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda.

Red Garcia: Catcher—Martín Maldonado; First Base—Matt Adams or Logan Morrison; Outfield—Nick Markakis, Carlos Gómez; Pitcher—sign as many one-year relievers as possible.

Hector Rodriguez: Catcher—Martín Maldonado; First Base—Logan Morrison or Hanley Ramírez; Shortstop—José Iglesias; Pitcher—veteran relievers on one-year deals.

Alex Carver: Catcher—Martín Maldonado; First Base—Wilmer Flores/Justin Bour; Outfield—Robbie Grossman; Pitcher—Gio Gonzalez.

Josean Santos: I would love for the Marlins to sign a few bullpen pieces on one-year deals so they can anchor it for half a season and trade them to contenders and continue to stock up the farm. As for position players, Carlos Gonzalez and Gio Gonzalez are a few names to look at. Along with a potential catcher to fill the void if we do trade Realmuto.

Cornelius Thomas: Jonathan Schoop is intriguing for me as I feel he can be a high-impact bat and a potential draw for the team. I would do a multi-year contract with him. He plays 2nd and, yes, Isan Díaz is on the way. But there is still quite a bit for Isan to prove with the bat from an approach to production standpoint.

Schoop in a more relaxed environment should thrive—great power and has a track record of solid averages and strong pop. It’s a low-risk/high-reward purchase. Move Castro and deal with any defensive losses to get the offense at this point in time. Discuss with Castro the need to master his conditioning and continue to work in this area now so he would be as prepared as possible. Avisaíl García is another player I would target. Age 28, for me, is the perfect time for an organization to maximize a return on a short-term investment. Avi will have to prove he can stay healthy and be an impact bat so he can earn another contract. A simple two-year contract gives him and the Marlins an opportunity to benefit and he can pursue that 30+ contract elsewhere.

Alex Krutchik: Gio Gonzalez, Devin Mesoraco, and maybe some old Marlins just to add interest this year. Hanley, Logan Morrison, or AJ Ramos would be nice.

Jesse Nieves: Wilmer Flores, Lo-Mo. Besides that, nothing that is gonna take away spots from the young players coming up in the system, I rather see what we have waiting in the wings.

3. At the end of the Winter Meetings, J.T. Realmuto will be on which team?

Ian Smith: I believe J.T. will be traded to one of three teams by the end of the Winter Meetings: Rockies, Astros, or Mets.

Daniel Martinez: Houston Astros. If Kyle Tucker is truly on the table, then the only thing I’m upset about is that they haven’t already pulled the trigger.

David Phillips: The Astros are the most logical fit.

Aram Leighton: Everyone likes the Astros, but that is likely predicated on the Astros willingness to part with Tucker. With Correa, Springer, Altuve, Bregman all due for pay days, Springer could be the odd man out, making Tucker vital for the Astros.

The Rockies have said nobody is untouchable and the Marlins desperately need help at SS. Brendan Rodgers would be a franchise altering centerpiece up the middle and if the Rockies are willing to part with him, I don’t see any way the Marlins say no.

Mike Picardi: Braves, Mets, Marlins, mystery team, in that order of probability.

Ethan Budowsky: I think the Astros is the most likely landing spot and I think the main reason is they’re going to end up giving the Marlins Kyle Tucker. Tucker is an elite prospect and the exact type of guy the Marlins are looking for to take this rebuild to the next level. If the Marlins get the Astros to budge on him, which they are reportedly willing to do, I think Jeets and the crew are smart enough to pull the trigger the second that happens.

Mitch Custer: I don’t think it will get done at the Winter Meetings, but I think the Dodgers get Realmuto late for Verdugo and at least one of their stud Double-A pitchers (May, Sopko, Gonsolin, White, or Alvarez).

Red Garcia: I believe J.T. Realmuto will remain with the Marlins or with be traded to the Astros. It makes too much sense—they have the prospects to get the deal done and are in a win-now mode.

Hector Rodriguez: I believe Realmuto will still be the Marlins, but will end up getting traded to the Houston Astros or the Los Angeles Dodgers at a later date.

Alex Carver: I say it’s the Astros or the Rockies. While the Astros seem like the better partner, they may balk at giving up Tucker. On Colorado’s side, who has a top 20 system, they have already said no one is untouchable. Rodgers and Rolison? Sign me up.

Josean Santos: The Astros have always been the best landing spot in my opinion. Their farm system is rich with talent, both top-heavy, star-studded and organizational depth. Kyle Tucker will be an amazing return for J.T.

Cornelius Thomas: I actually like the Angels for J.T. When you think about teams with a true need for catcher and teams that are proactive consistently in the trade market, the Angels are it. They are always interested in competing for playoff contention and this is a big detriment when you think about where an established star player may fit. They have a very strong prospect stable and I would hope the targets would be Jo Adell, Matt Thiass, and Griffin Canning. I think this is fair value for the best catcher in baseball.

Alex Krutchik: It’s looking more likely that the Mets have the pieces Mike Hill wants. But I think anybody in the NL East is in the mix.

Jesse Nieves: Realmuto will be a Fish by the time the pond freezes.

4. If you had to sign one Marlins player to a 5+ year extension this offseason, who would it be?

Ian Smith: Brian Anderson. 100%. His position flexibility is tremendous, when you could be capable of gold gloves in the infield or outfield, you present a ton of value to a team. And if he taps into his power this year, then it’s a no-brainer for me.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Daniel Martinez: Not sure there is an obvious candidate, at the moment, but my choice would be Brian Anderson. Signing him now would likely save the organization a good amount of money in the long term. He showed his versatility and ability with the bat.

David Phillips: I wouldn’t do that with anyone on the current roster, but if I had to, I’d re-sign Realmuto and keep at least some star power to give fans something to watch during the rebuild.

Aram Leighton: The right answer to this question is “nobody.” But if i HAD to, it’s Brian Anderson. He has showed a consistent approach at the plate, versatility on defense and a marketable, likable personality. All that said, he only has one season under his belt and needs to hit for more power as a corner infield and outfield guy.

Mike Picardi: Brian Anderson. Not necessarily because he will be the best of our young players, but because at this moment I think he’s the most likely to fulfill or even exceed the value of the contract he would receive. BA will be a steady presence on this team for the next decade if given the opportunity.

Ethan Budowsky: Lewis Brinson. I know how hard Sweet Lew struggled in 2018, but the flashes at times sold me that he still has a very good chance of being a good player in the league, especially on defense. Brinson was the headline piece the Marlins acquired in their first offseason and is that face of the franchise based off of that. If you’re serious about keeping the core together and building around the foundation you’ve created so far then signing Brinson is the way to show that they’re all in on the guys they brought in to be a part of this.

Mitch Custer: It comes down to high-floor Anderson and high-ceiling Brinson. I think you lock up the floor guy and give the Corvette keys to Anderson. Something along the lines of Scott Kingery’s contract—a backloaded deal around an AAV of $4 million—makes a lot of sense to me. I still think Brinson can be the better player, but until he showed a modicum of consistency, it would be unwise to lock up a deal with him.

Red Garcia: My heart wants me to say J.T. Realmuto, but with the current status of the team and what the future looks like, it just doesn’t make sense. I’d probably go with Pablo López or Trevor Richards.

Hector Rodriguez: I think Brian Anderson. If he can show more power than last season, he’s going to be a key player in the Marlins lineup and can also play multiple positions.

Alex Carver: Brian Anderson. Proved he has positional flexibility and that he belongs in the majors by swinging a plus bat. Slow finish is all that kept him from putting him neck and neck with Acuña for the rookie of the year award. Has 4/5 tools, can hit for both power and average and plays above average defense at multiple spots. I’d have no problem making him a middle-of-the-order mainstay for the next five years.

Josean Santos: Brian Anderson, undoubtedly. He can be a very productive player going forward, and while he isn’t a star, the team should lock the young man up early. His versatility played a big role in 2018, and it is only going to continue to help for the years to come.

Cornelius Thomas: Brian Anderson would be the logical choice. Sound person and player. Easy to follow and always plays smart and at 100% effort. But I would also give an extension—though of a lesser financial amount—to Lewis Brinson. His track record has said he will hit and I believe he will once his pitch recognition/adjustments to how he is pitched in the majors take place. He has the physical gifts necessary to hit the best, so not establishing a low market price early in his career would be careless. Brinson’s ceiling is very impressive and is not to be underestimated.

Alex Krutchik: In a perfect world? J.T.. Realmuto. But realistically I’d like Brian Anderson. He showed us that he not only has a good bat, but he fits the mold that new-age ball players are becoming, which is a versatile fielder who can probably play almost anywhere.

Jesse Nieves: Brian Anderson, but I kind of want to sign Caleb Smith. Before the injury, his numbers were looking promising.

5. Don Mattingly is entering his final year under contract. What needs to happen in 2019 for him to keep his job beyond that?

Ian Smith: This is a tricky one here. His mismanagement of the bullpen is frustrating, but he runs a pretty fair clubhouse. Even in a rebuilding year, he works with guys’ personalities well and keep guys positive. That being said I fully expect the Marlins to lose 90-100 games in 2019, which will ultimately seal his fate.

Daniel Martinez: A 90-win season that places the Marlins in the playoffs OR such a significant clubhouse presence that the organization is sold on him being the right guy to build with. If not, say hello to Mark DeRosa, Carlos Beltrán, Jorge Posada, and other interviewees for next offseason!

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

David Phillips: I don’t think anything can realistically happen based on how Jeter has spoken of the managerial contract situation in the past, but if the team surprises and hangs in the race into July, he’d certainly have a chance.

Aram Leighton: The new ownership has made it more than clear that it wants to separate itself from the previous regime and bring in its own guys. Mattingly is set up for failure with a team that will likely put up the same or worse of a season as last year. The Marlins had no reason to fire Mattingly this offseason since there is only one year left in his contract and the managerial job will be much more appealing after next season as hopefully the team will have made some strides in the rebuild by then. It will take a miracle season for Mattingly to stick around beyond 2019.

Mike Picardi: The Realmuto situation affects this answer a bit. If they retain him, the team’s overall record will have to improve for Mattingly to have a chance at being extended. If Realmuto is traded, it obviously pushes the window back another year or two, but the young players would have to show significant development. He will also need to show that he can properly manage a pitching staff, which is something he has struggled with. In my opinion, he will not be the Marlins manager in 2020.

Ethan Budowsky: Mattingly won’t be the manager of the Marlins after this season and I think that’s pretty safe to say. The only way he can save his job is with a playoff run, but everybody and their grandmother knows that isn’t happening for the Marlins in 2019. The team is heading in a different direction in all aspects of the franchise and that will continue with the skipper. I imagine the Marlins make a move for a manager that works more based on the analytics of a situation (i.e. AJ Hinch in Houston) rather than an old fashioned baseball guy that works with his gut the way Mattingly has shown to do. I like Mattingly and I think he could be a good fit here if he weren’t the last thing the Marlins were carrying over from the Loria era.

Mitch Custer:

Red Garcia: Nothing short of a playoff run. I think his time has run out in Miami.

Hector Rodriguez: I’m not sure he can do anything to save his job. His time in Miami has ran out.

Alex Carver: Connections with New York aside, Jeter is going to want his own guys. That started as soon as the new regime took over with the firing of advisors and has continued this offseason as Mattingly’s staff has been ripped apart. The contract is the only thing keeping Mattingly behind the bench. To me it’s a foregone conclusion that he will be gone in 2020.

Josean Santos: The team will need to improve drastically for him to stay around. Possibly a wild card run, which is highly unlikely for the 2019 Marlins. In my opinion, his contract is not getting renewed and the Marlins will look to sign someone else.

Cornelius Thomas: Progress needs to be shown. By that I mean, record improvement, but also the process. Team needs to show greater consistency in performance, better record in close games, development in production and experience/acumen in key players. More confident players overall. This is the end game at this stage of a rebuild. More than likely though, a managerial change will be necessary since this manager came from another regime. The desire for most rebuilds is to have a manager that aligns with the organizational philosophy and approach.

Alex Krutchik: I’ll start by saying that he’s done a fabulous job keeping the locker room together for these lean years, which is hard for anyone to do. But I also understand Jeter probably wants to bring in his own guy. I think he can save his job if the Marlins are firmly in the playoff chase entering September, or if he can fix the way he manages his pitchers (I can dream).

Jesse Nieves: The Fish need to make the playoffs—and not just that one game playoff for a wild card spot—to save Don’s job. Anyone want Mike Redmond back? I always felt like he got short-changed. I enjoyed him.

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