Still Looking for Offense
The Marlins did get some business done at the Winter Meetings this week—more on that in a second—but left empty-handed when it comes to their top offseason priority of improving one of baseball’s worst offenses in 2019. While the team has been linked to free agent names such as Kole Calhoun, Corey Dickerson, and Yasiel Puig, the general consensus is that none of those players are ready to sign just yet. That may change before the holidays. In the meantime, Miami is also actively exploring trade options as a way to obtain an impact bat, with long-time starter José Ureña possibly being shopped, and more bullpen help as well.
According to reports, the Marlins were able to get one player to sign on the dotted line in San Diego this week, as reliever Yimi García is said to have agreed to a one-year deal, pending a physical. García, 29, sported a 3.61 ERA over 64 appearances with the Dodgers this past season, and produced an impressive 0.87 WHIP over 62 1⁄3 innings. The right-hander did allow a somewhat alarming 15 homers in 2019, but playing home games in the spacious Marlins Park may help to alleviate that issue. The Marlins will have to make an internal move in order to make room for García on the 40-man roster.
Drafting New Faces
As always, the last order of business before teams headed home yesterday was the Rule 5 Draft. With the third overall pick, the Marlins selected righty Sterling Sharp, who projects to work out of the bullpen as a long reliever in Miami in 2020. Sharp was the Nationals’ 13th-rated prospect, and went 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA across 12 starts in the minors this past season, reaching as high as Double-A.
In the Minor League phase of the draft, the Marlins selected catcher Julian Leon from the Angels. A .237 hitter over seven minor league seasons, Leon is known as a defense-first backstop. Lefty Will Stewart was the only ranked Marlins prospect not protected before the draft, but he was not selected and will therefore remain in the system for the foreseeable future.
Garrett Cooper is a good baseball player, but he is also injury prone. Given the 28-year-old's track record over the past two seasons, the Marlins feel that they can no longer rely on Cooper as an everyday option, which sheds a new light on the acquisition of slugger Jesús Aguilar last week. While he is still a big part of the offense, Cooper will have to prove that he can stay on the field to become any more than a platoon option at this point. Maybe if he was exclusively played at first base, then his body would hold up better. Just a thought.
It is common knowledge that the Marlins are a small market team. With a lengthy playoff drought causing a general lack of excitement towards the team in the community, the lack of a stadium naming rights partner, and a horrible TV deal, there isn't much spare money for expensive player contracts and big money signings. After the Yankees, Angels, and Nationals all splashed the cash over the past few days on the likes of Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg, there are now five teams across the league that pay more money for their top two players than the Marlins do for the entire team.