Offseason Game Plan

In my opinion, this is a huuuuuuuge offseason for the Marlins. They have minimal salary allocated to future seasons, a cheap young surplus of starting pitching, and some glaring holes in the lineup. With the right acquisitions, this team can compete for a playoff birth, which has to be the goal. The following is what i would like to see Kim Ng do from a roster construction standpoint.

Already occurred moves: Sign Sandy Alcantara to a long term extension, acquire Louis Head from the Rays for a PTBNL or cash, and didn't add anyone to the 40 man roster (most notably Griffin Conine) ahead of the Rule V draft. I actually like all of these moves. Sandy is a cornerstone at present and moving forward, while Head's acquisition cost was very minimal and brings bullpen depth. The move to not protect Conine wasn't popular, but with his strikeout percentage and lack of plus speed and defense, it'll be very difficult for anyone to carry him on the 40 man all year. Even if he gets picked, (I don't think he will), I think he'll be offered back to the Marlins.

Move #1: The first big acquisition would be trading for Byron Buxton. The health caveats are obvious, but Buxton is worth the risk and this is such a rare opportunity to acquire a superstar for pennies on the dollar. Even though Buxton is in the final year of team control, an extension isn't out of the realm of possibility.

The Athletic had the terms as 7 years and $73 million…and the only deal breaker was Buxton wanted bigger incentives! MN upped the offer to $80 million guaranteed, but didn’t add to the incentives. This presents a tremendous opportunity for the Marlins. Even with the injury concerns, a ~$12 million a year deal isn’t going to torpedo even a low spending team like Miami. If he is hitting his incentives, he’s an absolute bargain. If he isn’t hitting his incentives and only playing half his games, he’s still very likely to be a 2 WAR player, which would still be providing the Marlins with surplus value. As for the pieces being moved:

Marlins get: Buxton

Twins get: Elieser Hernandez, Dax Fulton, IF Jose Devers, SP Zach McCambley

Extension: 7 year, $84 million guaranteed, with $2.5 million per year in playing time incentives and $.5 million per year in performance incentives. Total max contract: 7 years, $105 million.

Baseball Trade Values has the Twins receiving 15.6 and the Marlins receiving 14.6.

Move #2: Marlins acquire Clint Frazier for the New York Yankees for Victor Victor Mesa. Frazier was designated for assignment in advance of the deadline to protect players from the Rule V Draft. Frazier is a former ballyhooed prospect who has hit in limited MLB opportunities, while playing below average defense. Frazier is projected by MLBTR to make $2.4 million in his first trip through arbitration, and I actually think that number is slightly higher than what he'll receive. Although his batted ball metrics really trended badly in his brief MLB action this year, Frazier represents an opportunity to get a quality bat for the corner OF and DH mix on the cheap and with multiple years of team control. Mesa took some positive strides this year, but he was way older than the average age of his competition. He doesn't require 40 man protection, and offers the Yankees a possible strong defensive 4th OF.

Move #3: Sign Javier Baez to a 5 year $100 million contract. Listen, I don't like the strikeout rate either, but this is a 4.5 WAR player, who plays exceptionally hard, and could be a draw. He can be maddening for stretches, but he's more often brilliant than maddening. He won't cost the Marlins a draft pick and even as he ages, he'd be able to slide to third and be above average.

Move #4: Acquire catcher Jacob Stallings and RP Chris Stratton from Pittsburgh for OF Monte Harrison, IF Nasim Nunez, and SP Zach Thompson. This gives Miami their starting catcher while not sacrificing any blue chip prospects. From Pittsburgh's perspective, they net a starting pitcher who has 6 years of club control, a toolsy former top 100 outfield prospect, and a middle infielder who ranked as the Marlins #13 prospect. Baseball Trade Values has this as a definitive win for Pittsburgh (12.3 to 9.8), but the Marlins get their catcher while not giving up anything that is likely to hurt too much.

Move #5: Trade 1b Jesus Aguilar to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Ryan Brasier and RHP Bradley Blaylock. I know this won't be popular, but it's needed from a money perspective and a bullpen perspective. Aguilar projects to make $7.4 million in his final year of arbitration and the Marlins can rely on Garrett Cooper and Lewin Diaz for far cheaper. Aguilar was among the steadiest bats in the Marlins lineup all year, but he provided roughly league average production for first basemen standards, and Diaz's defense was otherworldly in a small sample. Brasier is nothing more than a 6th or 7th inning guy, but he brings experience and depth and is coming off of a rough year. Brasier projects to make $1.4 million through arbitration while Blaylock is young and is the Red Sox #29 prospect.

Move #6: Sign RHP Tyler Clippard to 1 year $1.5 million contract. Steady veteran for the middle inning mix.

Move #7: Sign Steven Matz to one year $12 million contract. He's a solid mid to back rotation guy with the upside to be a solid #3. Didn't plan on signing him, but $12 million is fine and wanted the payroll to approach $90 million

Housekeeping items: DFA Lewis Brinson, DFA Jorge Alfaro, DFA Isan Diaz, DFA Sean Guenther, draft unknown RP in Rule V draft

Major league guys added (and their projected salaries in millions): Buxton ($12, likely less but we'll say they divided his extension up evenly), Frazier ($1.9), Baez ($20), Stallings ($2.6), Stratton ($2.2), Brasier ($1.4), Clippard ($1.5) Unknown Rule reliever (minimum) Steven Matz ($12) Total salary added: $53.6 million

Major league guys subtracted: Aguilar ($7.4), Thompson (minimum), Elieser Hernandez ($1.4), Monte Harrison (minimum), Jose Devers (minimum)

Potential Roster:

Starting Lineup: ($48.8 total)

C- Jacob Stallings ($2.6)

1B- Lewin Diaz (min)

2B- Jazz Chisholm (min)

3B- Miguel Rojas ($5)

SS- Javier Baez ($20)

LF- Jesus Sanchez (min)

CF- Byron Buxton ($12)

RF- Brian Anderson ($4.5)

DH- Garrett Cooper ($3)

Bench: Clint Frazier (OF/DH, $1.9), Jon Berti (Utility, $1.2), Nick Fortes (C, min), Bryan De la Cruz (OF, min) ($4.3 total)

40 man depth: Payton Henry (C, min), Alex Jackson (C, min), Jerar Encarnacion (OF)

Starting Rotation: Sandy Alcantara ($4.5), Pablo Lopez ($2.5), Trevor Rogers (min), Steven Matz ($12), Jesus Luzardo (min) ($20.2)

Bullpen: Anthony Bender (min), Dylan Floro ($2.4), Richard Bleier ($2.5), Anthony Bass ($3), Tyler Clippard ($1.5), Chris Stratton ($2.2), Ryan Brasier ($1.4), Rule V reliever (min) ($14.2 total)

40 man depth: Edward Cabrera, Paul Campbell, Daniel Castano, Braxton Garrett, Louis Head, Jordan Holloway, Nick Neidert, Steven Okert, Zach Pop, Sixto Sanchez, Cody Poteet (all making the minimum).

Active roster has a payroll of $87.5 million and all the other guys on the 40 man are making the minimum. If Baez winds up costing 2-3 million more per year, so be it, they can afford it. Payroll could and would likely be less if they structure Buxton's deal differently, but I wanted to spread it even and think they can afford it all while saving more money for when their young core gets into arbitration. Adding Baez and Frazier enables a lot more flexibility with the lineup. Chisholm, Anderson, Rojas, and Baez can bounce around a bit, while Frazier, De La Cruz, and Cooper should be quality OF depth and offer decent DH production.