The 2022 Marlins season ended long ago. Since then, they’ve surely been planning carefully for a busy winter of player acquisitions that would address needs for 2023 as well as the long term. Before executing any of those moves, though, they have at least eight decisions to make about their current personnel.
As of Monday, the Marlins 40-man roster is full and Anthony Bender, Paul Campbell, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Sean Guenther, Jordan Holloway, Max Meyer, Cody Poteet and Jorge Soler all remain on the 60-day injured list. The IL goes away during the MLB offseason, so that’s 48 players for 40 spots. Many other teams have impending free agents to help with their roster crunches, but not the Fish. All of their players have a year or more of club control remaining. Only Soler has the freedom to opt out and test the open market, which he obviously won’t do in the aftermath of his nagging back injury.
The Marlins are not necessarily eager to get rid of anybody on their 40-man—their objective is to shed players who are most likely to clear waivers. In some cases, unclaimed players can be outrighted to the minor leagues, keeping them with the organization entering the following year. Even players who reject outright assignments may be open to sticking around on new minor league contracts (which likewise do not count toward the 40-man roster limit).
Here are my predictions for who will be squeezed off the Marlins roster following the World Series.
- RHP Paul Campbell—A former Rule 5 Draft selection, Campbell began the 2022 season with Triple-A Jacksonville. He made a couple lousy starts for the Jumbo Shrimp, then was recalled by the Marlins to provide long relief. Before make any MLB appearances, he landed on the injured list with an elbow issue that would eventually require Tommy John surgery. Campbell’s rehab will sideline him for a portion of the 2023 campaign and even assuming he fully regains his pre-injury stuff, his upside isn’t nearly high enough to justify a 40-man spot.
- LHP Sean Guenther—Very similar circumstances for Guenther. He struggled as a rookie in 2021 and couldn’t build upon that this season due to Tommy John. Guenther underwent his procedure in early April and has been developed as a relief-only option, so he will likely return to the mound sooner than Campbell.
- LHP Jake Fishman—The epitome of a “funky lefty,” Fishman posted good results in the upper minors and finally got his cup of coffee in The Show this summer. However, the Marlins designated him for assignment twice already. They’ve made it clear that they feel he is expendable.
- RHP Nick Neidert—Neidert is the final obvious pick here. His command was much improved when healthy this season (9 BB in 51.0 IP at AAA/MLB). Unfortunately, he had right knee surgery in September. He also suffered a right knee injury in 2019. The Marlins previously DFA’d Neidert at the end of spring training and he went unclaimed.
- RHP Huascar Brazoban—The Dominican fireballer was productive as a 32-year-old rookie. His cutter and changeup both generated a lot of swing-and-miss. On the other hand, Brazoban’s control is atrocious and that typically isn’t a skill you can count on a pitcher developing at his age.
- INF José Devers—There are players drafted by the Marlins this year who are older than Devers. Despite having Father Time on his side, Devers’ lack of durability has derailed him. There were glimpses earlier in his MiLB career of a player whose speed and defense could compensate for a dearth of power. Aside from continuing to make frequent contact, his 2022 campaign was disastrous—49 weighted runs created plus (100 represents league average) with only three stolen bases in 60 games while being defensively limited to second base.
- RHP Jeff Brigham—Brigham’s average fastball velocity this season was two ticks lower than in 2019. He had stretches of dominance for Triple-A Jacksonville, but also some ugly implosions. Following his call-up, he was very effective at stranding inherited baserunners, though I don’t think the Marlins will weigh that heavily enough to keep him on the 40-man. Tough call.
- RHP Bryan Hoeing—Through the end of May, Hoeing was looking like a possible breakout prospect in the Marlins farm system. From June onward, he couldn’t buy a strikeout and his results flipped accordingly (6.69 ERA in 76.2 IP at AAA/MLB). Hoeing still has back-of-the-rotation upside that gives him a fairly high likelihood of being claimed if he does in fact get squeezed out of Miami.
Others in Danger
- RHP Elieser Hernandez—Remember, the premise of this article is predicting what the Marlins will do. If it was up to me, Hernandez would be long gone by now. Their infatuation with him is difficult to understand. I do predict that he’ll be non-tendered within the next month, but not immediately at the start of the offseason.
- UTIL Luke Williams—Williams was something of a good-luck charm as the Marlins went 17-16 in games that he started. However, his role was gradually reduced as his offensive deficiencies got exposed. He recorded only 14 hits after the All-Star break. After trading prospect Hayden Cantrelle to acquire him, the front office probably isn’t in a hurry to risk losing Williams for nothing.
- RHP Jordan Holloway—As a 2014 draft pick, Holloway is quietly one of the longest-tenured Marlins players. That doesn’t exactly work in his favor: hardly anybody involved in signing or developing him is still employed by the organization. He’s certainly a candidate to depart coming off a lost season and elbow surgery, but the likeliest scenario is that he reports to spring training battling for a middle relief job.
- RHP Tommy Nance—Nance was quietly among Miami’s best relievers during the second half of the season and even showed the versatility to make a couple starts. He still has a minor league option remaining despite entering his age-32 season.
- LHP Daniel Castano—A comebacker to the head cut Castano’s season short on July 28. Prior to that, he made an intriguing adjustment to his pitch mix, relying heavily on his cutter and getting extra giddy-up on his four-seamer when he used it.
- C Payton Henry—Henry is an adequate third-string catcher. By winter’s end, maybe the Marlins will have a sexier alternative for that role. He should be safe for now.