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Offishial news, 1/18/21: Bobblehead giveaway; in-Nguration; Rojas family grows

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Joe Biden’s inaugural committee has selected Marlins GM Kim Ng to make remarks during Wednesday night’s festivities.

FOCO

MLB rules update

Less than one month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training and there is still a total lack of clarity regarding what gameplay will look like for the 2021 season.

Via Bob Nightengale of USA Today, MLB is proposing the return of seven-inning doubleheader games and having every extra inning begin with a runner on second base. Both rules were implemented unilaterally by commissioner Rob Manfred for 2020’s abbreviated season but the league would need cooperation from the players’ union to make them stick around.

Earlier this winter, MLB sent a memo to teams advising them to operate as if there will not be a designated hitter in the National League. However, “most baseball executives still believe there will be a universal DH this season,” Nightengale reports. Recent transactions like the Nationals signing Kyle Schwarber and the Mets signing José Martínez seem to reflect that mindset. The hold-up is MLB’s strategy to offer that to the union in exchange for approving a 14-team playoff field (expanded from the typical 10-team format).

By and large, these would be welcome developments for the Marlins. Last season, they Marlins went 10-4 when playing seven-inning doubleheader games compared to a mediocre 21-25 record in their “normal” games. Despite the team’s offensive struggles overall, Miami’s designated hitters outperformed the MLB average. Jesús Aguilar, their most frequently used DH in 2020 and a revered clubhouse presence, would unfortunately become a trade candidate if the senior circuit loses that role for this year. And most of all, the extra postseason berths would give the Fish a puncher’s chance of reaching October again whereas a path there likely doesn’t exist if only five NL clubs make the cut.

No FanFest for 2021

Photo by Danis Sosa/Fish Stripes

A statement from the Marlins (via MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola):

“We are looking forward to our players returning to the field and having fans back in the ballpark for Marlins games in 2021. In lieu of our traditional FanFest, we are exploring a fan experience to celebrate the start of the season closer to Opening Day—which is just under 11 weeks away. We know our fans are excited to re-unite and enjoy the fun times at Marlins Park.”

This was a necessary decision but it’s still deflating. The 2020 event attracted about 17,000 fans to Marlins Park. Under non-pandemic circumstances, the projected turnout this year should have been similar, possibly even larger.

De Nicola hints at the likelihood of fans being able to attend 2021 home games once “specific safety protocols” are put in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections. Upstate in St. Petersburg, for example, the Rays are reportedly planning to allow up to 7,000 (socially distanced) fans per game, and they don’t even have a retractable roof like the Marlins do, which can be opened to create safer conditions, according to infectious disease experts.

Christina De Nicola will be our featured guest on the Fish Stripes podcast this week. Please comment with any specific topics you’d like for us to discuss.

Donnie Bobblehead

Pictured at the top of this article, FOCO has released a new Don Mattingly NL Manager of the Year bobblehead! The winningest manager in Marlins history, Mattingly guided the Fish through a grueling 2020 schedule and optimized his ever-changing roster to earn a postseason berth, the franchise’s first since 2003.

Supplies are limited, yet FOCO is generous enough to provide us with one bobblehead to give away. Follow @fishstripes on Twitter for details.

Walk-off links

@BidenInaugural/Twitter
  • Kim Ng has been selected to make remarks during Wednesday night’s “Celebrating America” primetime special, which will cap off the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris inauguration festivities. The program will be carried live across all the major television networks. No pressure, Kim!
  • Other than SS Yiddi Cappe and his $3.5 million bonus, the highest-paid Marlins international signings are C Ronald Hernández ($850k), OF Kevin Guerrero ($600k) and C Edward Duran ($450k). The Marlins now have less than $1 million of their 2021 int’l bonus pool remaining.
  • Our list of Marlins must-follow Instagram accounts has been updated to include these talented young men.
  • Louis Addeo-Weiss combines the most outstanding individual seasons in Marlins history at each position to assemble the franchise’s all-time best team.
  • Even though the Marlins made the effort to scout Corey Kluber up close last Wednesday, it never seemed realistic that they would outbid the many other interested teams. Despite hardly any production the past two years, the Yankees have made a $11 million commitment for his age-35 season.
  • The Phillies are offering $100-plus million to bring back J.T. Realmuto.
  • Speaking of old friends, there was a Ken Rosenthal report early Friday that Brad Hand was nearing a deal with the Mets. Rosenthal and other insiders have since walked that back. Hopefully a non-NL East team—like the Blue Jays or Astros—woos him away from the division before it’s too late.
  • Rosenthal redeemed himself with this fascinating Brandon Kintzler feature, touching on pitching strategy, misleading stats, the closer’s mentality, and of course, COVID-19. Nothing in there to suggest the free agent is engaged in serious contract talks yet.
  • Slightly outdated at this point, but here are Jim Bowden’s MLB interim offseason grades. The Marlins got a D. That feels about right to me.
  • Prospects1500 ranks the top 50 Marlins prospects entering 2021. Too high on Griffin Conine (No. 16) and too low on Jordan Holloway (No. 37), in my opinion.
  • Baseball America is posting their preseason MLB Top 100 prospects rankings on Monday. Fish Stripes will have an article later in the day summarizing it from a Marlins’ perspective.
  • The 120 teams invited to compete in the restructured Minor League Baseball system—including the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Beloit Snappers and Jupiter Hammerheads—have received their Professional Development Licenses. MLB has given them a Feb. 10 deadline to sign and return them, which will make their affiliations officially official.
  • Marlins pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Sixto Sánchez are each being valued similarly in early 2021 fantasy baseball drafts.
  • MLB.com’s Will Leitch chooses Sandy as his clearest contract extension candidate on the Marlins right now.
  • The former national crosschecker for the Mariners reached into his archives to share these scouting evaluations of players on the 2014 Marlins.
  • Welcome to the world, Amber Lucia Rojas Gamboa! She is the second child of Miguel and Mariana Rojas (they also have a five-year-old son, Aarón).
@miggyslocker/Instagram