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Marlins Payroll: Calm before the spending storm

With imminent roster moves coming next week and team sources hinting at free agent pursuits, we take stock of what the Marlins already have on the books.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The best MLB teams tend to be those with relatively large payrolls and elite players signed to efficient deals. The Marlins have a long way to go to reach that point. In the meantime, on the 15th day of each month, we will check in on their current commitments and upcoming decisions, and bring in some historical perspective as well.

Marlins who are arbitration-eligible for the 2020 season have been listed below, along with MLB Trade Rumors’ projections (2019 salaries in parentheses):

  • José Ureña—$4 million ($3.2 million)
  • Adam Conley—$1.6 million ($1.125 million)
  • JT Riddle—$900,000 ($560,000)

Since the previous payroll update, the Fish outrighted arb-eligible Héctor Noesí to the minors and he elected free agency. Unsurprising.

After further contemplation, I have come around to the possibility that Conley will be tendered a contract. The top left-handed reliever in free agency, Will Smith, was scooped up Thursday by the Braves for a $40 million guarantee, setting a strong market for everybody else. Whether it’s the Marlins or a trade partner, somebody could be intrigued enough by his potential to pay a salary similar to his arb projection.

Expect transactions of some kind by Nov. 20, when MLB 40-man rosters must be set in advance of the Rule 5 Draft. The Marlins have a handful of key prospects to protect, and they may take priority over more experienced players. Then, Nov. 30 is the deadline to decide whether or not to tender contracts to members of the 2020 arbitration class. The Marlins, for example, designated for assignment—and subsequently released—Derek Dietrich a year ago because of the disparity between his projected arb raise and market value.

2020 Guarantees

  • Wei-Yin Chen—$22 million
  • Miguel Rojas—$4.75 million
  • Starlin Castro—$1 million (bought out his club option)
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The initial focus for the Marlins front office appears to be veteran corner outfielders. They are showing varying degrees of interest in Nicholas Castellanos, Avisaíl García, Marcell Ozuna, David Peralta and Yasiel Puig. Safe to say that anybody from that group would immediately become the highest-paid position player in the organization with a 2020 salary ranging from $5 million to $15 million.

Thursday on the Swings and Mishes podcast, Craig Mish poured cold water on a potential Ozuna reunion while only anticipating moderate spending that would keep Miami’s payroll among the lowest in Major League Baseball:

“I would put almost 100% on this, on them not signing a guy who has an attachment to a [compensation] pick...The reality is until the new TV deal comes in next year and they’re able to add, I don’t think that there’s going to be significant additions to the payroll outside of replacing the money that is now gone to Castro and Prado. I do think that it is going to be replaced.”

RosterResource factors in $15.778 million to be used to fill out the Marlins active roster with pre-arb players (Isan Díaz, Brian Anderson, etc.) and notes that $3 million is headed to the Yankees as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade.

Estimated 2019 Marlins payroll: $78.0 million

Projected 2020 Marlins payroll using existing players (as of Nov. 15): $53.0 million