The Process Continues
Both 2018 and 2019 were difficult for Marlins fans. Inconsistent showings from unproven players resulted in a combined 120-203 record over the past two seasons and did not always make for great viewing for a city that has been yearning for exciting baseball since 2003. However, with every promising rookie debut and impressive performance from an emerging young core the mood has been changing, and 2020 will be most important year yet of the rebuild. Looking to take a leap forward, Miami has made key off-season additions to address some of the most pressing questions surrounding the team, and more top prospects are about ready to make their presence felt on the major league stage. The process continues when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 12.
The Achilles’ Heel of the 2019 Marlins squad was generating enough offense, as they ranked last in baseball with 146 homers and only scored 615 runs, which was second-to-last. The front office has been aggressive in acquiring Jonathan Villlar, Jesús Aguilar, and Corey Dickerson over the past few months to contribute more firepower at the plate. The trio's 28.7 total career WAR is reassuring, and should allow the Marlins to achieve their New Year's Resolution.
Dickerson the Game-changer
The biggest move of the winter so far for Miami has been the signing of the aforementioned Corey Dickerson to a 2-year, $17.5 million free agent deal last week. Notable because it is by far the biggest contract that the new ownership group has handed out since taking over the franchise in 2017, and yet, the general consensus around the league is that the Marlins got a fantastic value. Dickerson, 30, has had his fair share of injury problems throughout his career, but the veteran outfielder has hit .282 or better for three seasons in a row. A recent change in approach at the plate has cut down his strikeout rate while still allowing him to hit for power. In short, Dickerson figures to be a big part of Miami's lineup in 2020 if he is able to stay healthy.
One to Watch
The Marlins have an exciting crop of pitching prospects moving through the minors, plain and simple. With Sixto Sánchez, Edward Cabrera, Nick Neidert, and Jorge Guzman all scheduled to begin the season in Triple-A Wichita, many of the pipeline's heavy-hitters look set to debut in Miami in 2020. Barring any revelations, Braxton Garrett does not appear in-line for an MLB debut this coming season, but the former Tommy John surgery recipient is still primed for a breakout season. The 2016 first-round pick ended 2019 with his first start at Double-A Jacksonville after going 6-6 with a 3.34 ERA over 20 starts in his first taste of High-A ball to begin the year, and will look to carry that momentum forward into the new decade.
Person of Interest (or not)
Reports out of Korea surfaced this week that the Marlins had expressed interest in learning more about slugger Kim Jae-Hwan before his posting ends on January 5. The 31-year-old was the MVP of the KBO in 2018 after slashing .334/.405/.657 and mashing 44 homers in 139 games, but his production somewhat cooled in 2019—his average dropped by over 50 points and he failed to hit above .300 for the first time since becoming an everyday player in 2016. Not known for his defense, and seemingly more of a fit for a DH role, the outfielder would be an odd signing for the Marlins after adding Dickerson last week. Craig Mish has since come out and dispelled the rumors. Even if this was just the Marlins doing their due diligence, its encouraging to hear that they are leaving no stone unturned in their mission to produce better results in 2020.