MLB free agency is here. Time to indulge in a spicy combination of rumors, theories, and speculations. Even coming off their 10th consecutive losing season and recording a 57-105 record, the Marlins’ offseason is going to be interesting as anyone’s. President of baseball operations Michael Hill—and every member of the fanbase—understands the urgency for Miami to get better.
How much progress will the Fish make? That hinges on the answers to these three questions.
1) Is Miami a good destination for free agents?
Well, it depends on your expectations. If you’re an established star who wants to win now and be on a first-place team, then forget about the Marlins. The franchise’s project is a long-term rebuild that, even though it seems to be on the right rails, won’t pay off for another two or three years (in a best-case scenario). Let’s be clear on that.
However, after parting ways with virtually all of their productive veterans, the Marlins do have plenty of payroll flexibility. They would potentially be able to bid against any other team for a player that they really want. Also, no state income taxes!
I case you’re a low-profile player like a José Iglesias or an Avisaíl García instead of being a Stephen Strasburg or a Gerrit Cole, Miami might be a positive destination for you. During a rebuilding process, teams can allow themselves to have a wider margin of error. You won’t be performing under the pressure of “World Series or bust” expectations in the near future.
2) Would a huge signing benefit the Marlins?
Obviously, adding a guy like Strasburg, Cole, or Anthony Rendon would have an immediate, positive impact on any roster. Also consider that such a deal may help to heal the relationship between agent Scott Boras and the organization after years of animosity between Boras and the old owners. But does the timing make sense for the Marlins?
Hill just said they “will fundamentally build through scouting and development.” For sure, there will be a time when expensive free agents come to the Fish, but only when they decide it’s time to invest big. As of now, Miami will surely add some hitters that can improve the offense (somebody in the Yonder Alonso/Avisaíl García range) without blocking key prospects from getting their opportunities in the bigs.
The Marlins will be disciplined—imagine Bart Simpson on the chalkboard writing, “Developing is the key” a million times over.
“The goal is not just winning more games in 2020,” Hill continued. “It’s as I’ve said, [building] something sustainable year-in and year-out and being able to compete for championships.”
3) What’s the best free agent type the Marlins could sign?
I insist, due to the current situation of the Marlins, getting a large, long-term contract might turn into something really bad in the future. It’s just not the right time.
Instead, Miami could aim to add impactful pieces without breaking the bank, like the ones mentioned above. The formula might be signing a few veterans at a low cost, plugging the most glaring roster holes, and wish that they have solid numbers by the end of July so that the team can trade them away and receive more prospects to fill their farm system. A multi-year agreement with not-that-expensive guys like José Iglesias, Alonso, Yasiel Puig or Nick Castellanos won’t hurt the Marlins, either.
Time will do its job, while ours is to wait.