We cannot understand why we should appreciate the Marlins current situation without visiting the last 3 years, so here we go...
Let us go back the 2020 Miami Marlins made the Covid shortened season’s expanded playoff bracket. The young Fish made it to the 2nd round of the playoffs after traveling to a fanless Wrigley field and "sweeping" the Cubs in a best of 3 game mini-series. The Marlins quickly were brought back to earth losing 3 straight games to their division rival Atlanta Braves, in the bubble at Houston’s Minute Made Park. The Miami Marlins showed off their potential of young up and coming pitching staff that post season, Anchored by future ’22 Cy Young winning Sandy Alcantara. Along with Sandy, Sixto Sanchez, Pablo Lopez were the three starting pitches used in all of the 5 postseason starts. The promise of this young staff with the emergence of Brian Anderson, Garrett Cooper and new comer Jesus Aguilar fed into the Miami Marlins ownership’s false narrative of a successful FIRESALE just 3 years prior. Going into the 2021 season, the Marlins president (at the time) Derek Jeter decided to relieve Michael Hill of his duties as president of baseball operations, electing to go with Kim Ng as the first female General Manager in MLB history. Ng unfortunately did not get full control over the roster until a year later (we will discuss that later in this article) with the success of 2020’s 60 game season which the Marlins finishing with 31 wins, the new hires, the Marlins believed they were in contention to compete with the Division Leaders, the Atlanta Braves.
Come 2021 the Marlins’ new leadership behind Derick Jeter, sold the naming rights of their ballpark to loanDepot, they had a new TV deal in place with Ballys Sports which is owned by Diamond Sports Group. These two-revenue increasing deals were supposed to allow the Miami baseball team to add to their spending, so going into the season they decided to spend their focus on building a bullpen. They signed Anthony Bass who finished 2021 with nothing but question marks and a lost closing role. The Marlins did not continue success of their postseason campaign they finished a full 2021 season at 67-95, 4th place in the division. During the dog days of summer Sixto Sanchez injured his shoulder, Marlins were sellers resulting in traded away starting left fielder Corey Dickerson, locker room leader Center Fielder Starling Marte (of whom they refused to offer a decent extension), "closer" Yimi Garcia, and eventually DFA'd Lewis Brinson who was the biggest non pitching named asset of the before mentioned fire sale of 2017. I do not mean to bring up the negative past but this brings us to the present time and purpose of the title of this article. What the Marlins got started in 2021’s summer, should shine a bright light on the current roster we have today.
In the trades of July 2021, the Miami Marlins brought in home grown South Floridian pitcher Jesus Luzardo, the stand out prospect from Parkland, who was facing turmoil in Oakland after a troublesome few starts, they also brought in outfield prospect Bryan De La Cruz. These two pieces allowed the Marlins to position their team as buyers come November/December 2021. The Marlins had a plan, behind Derek Jeter to sign free agents. His plan focused on bringing in Avisail Garcia, and bringing back Marte who they stupidly dealt allowing others to be in the mix. Part of the plan was met Garcia signed on the dotted line, fixing a "power" hole the Marlins had in their 2021 line up, someone to help protect Jesus Aguilar who finished the 2021 season just under 100 rbis (93). The Marlins post season then took a turn, when Marte signed with the New York Mets (who is believed to over pay the 31-year-old (at the time) with 17 million dollars per year,). A few days later immediately after a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for 2021 All Star Utility Joey Wendle the offseason abruptly went on hiatus with a MLB ownership induced Lockout as the collective bargaining agreement expired with the MLB Players Association. During the lockout Derek Jeter and the Marlins mutually parted ways after he was reported to have disagreements with majority owner Bruce Sherman. The lock out FINALLY ended leading to frenzy of free agent signings, available players like Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos and others signed expensive multiyear deals with interdivision rival Philadelphia Phillies, The Mets added to their roster throwing money at Max Scherzer after already inking Starling Marte. The Braves, added a closer in Kenley Jensen, and bolstered their roster by trades including the addition of first baseman Matt Olsen who replaced Marlins killer Freddie Freeman who ended up signing with the Dodgers. The Marlins in desperation with first time General Manager now on her own by signing the 2021 World Series MVP Cuban born Jorge Soler and making trades with Baltimore for potential bullpen help. This led to a 2022 season, plagued by injuries, underachieving bats, and minor league call ups that lets face facts, showed the underwhelming future of this team. However, Sandy Alcantara won the 2022 Cy Young finishing with all first place votes.
Why should fans appreciate where we are today after reading the article up until now? Great question. Well, here it is. Sandy Alcantara is signed with the Miami Marlins until 2027, a franchise friendly, back-loaded deal which allows the ability to spend while figuring out the core of this team. The 2021/22 moves by Kim Ng of pitcher Jesus Luzardo allows for the ability of the Marlins to make trades with a huge depth of potential starters (if they remain healthy). Bryan De La Cruz smashed hit after hit, in September 2022, showing that if given a starting role he potentially can be a special bat in our lineup. Joey Wendle now in arbitration is at least a Marlin for 2023, can be the starter at 3rd for the full season, replacing Brian Anderson who was DFA'd in November. Behind Sandy Alcantara, the Marlins had two other 2022 All-Stars, 2nd Baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr, and 1st Base/DH Garrett Cooper, both injured in 2022, have the opportunity to repeat their first half success for contract extensions. The Marlins as of this writing have not signed any free agents during or after the Winter Meetings, this is good. They are not rushing into over spending, they are methodically trying to make trade deals to fill their most needed questionable positions, Centerfield (remember DLC can play the middle, but we may prefer him in left with Soler taking a full time DH role), shortstop, and depth at first base. Marlins also need bullpen help, they will find potential players who are above average for cheap, they wont pay a Kenley Jansen type closer (who signed with the RED SOX for 16 million dollars per year, two year term), but they will find a needle in the haystack to fill some roles. Sixto Sanchez, the big arm from 2020 has been injured, he just had another surgery and may be back by Spring training. Sixto can be a bullpen candidate, maybe a closer even (John Smoltz did it for the Braves) why not Sanchez’s 100mph fastball in the bottom of the 9th? Facts are facts, Avisail Garcia did not perform well in 2022, his numbers are not even worth writing down, but in 2023 he has something to prove to Kim Ng and the fans, Jorge Soler’s power was starting to heat up before a back injury, he will be back after opting into a 15 million dollar player option, his bat can light up the left field Budweiser bar come April. Unless trades are made, the Marlins rotation on paper can be one of the best in the game. Sandy Alcantara will look to repeat as the best in the game, friend Pablo Lopez stayed healthy all of 2022, Jesus Luzardo spent months on the IL, but when he pitched, he was golden. Edward Cabrera also injured showed Sandy like numbers, including a no hit 5 inning in Chicago early August. The fifth spot currently can be filled by former All-Star Trevor Rogers who will look to return to his rookie year form.
The Miami Marlins have not yet made splashy moves, but history has shown the highest spenders do not win championships. The Yankees have not won since 2009, The Mets 1986, The Phillies won the NL Pennant but not a championship since 2008, The Dodgers 2020 (if we count that), and the Padres well ever. The Guardians made the playoffs and won their wild card series in 2022, the Houston Astros have been the gold standard that to consistently win a pennant you have to build from within. The Marlins ownership is not just throwing money around, they do not have to do so. We should trust Kim Ng, if the trades she has made continue to perform, there is no reason not. Jesus Luzardo, Bryan De La Cruz, Former All-Star Catcher Jacob Stallings, Former first round pick Jordan Groshans (the highly ranked MLB prospect who came to the Marlins from Toronto in a trade for Anthony Bass), are all Ng deals. Try to believe that this team knows that they are in the toughest division of baseball. New leaders, a young new manager, a new scouting team. A healthy team will be on the field March 30th, 2022. The rebuild is not over, and neither should be your trust in Bruce Sherman’s ownership.