The 2022 Major League Baseball is a mere two weeks old. Most teams have yet to reach 10 games played.
The Miami Marlins enter the year fresh off a 95-loss season but with the noted additions of Joey Wendle, Jorge Soler, and Avsaíl García, the hope is the sport’s worst offense (80 OPS+ in 2021), can take much-needed strides.
Keeping with the cynicism that has plagued the fanbase in recent years, though, should the turnaround not manifest itself, here are some likely scenarios the fans of the former boys in Teal could see happen.
Steven Okert will throw meaningful October innings...for someone else
Steven Okert striking out the side huh?!?!— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) April 9, 2022
Some of the best bats in the Giants lineup too pic.twitter.com/iuABbxQTTe
A minor league signee prior to the start of last season, Okert has been among the team’s most dependable relievers, sporting a 2.75 ERA (154 ERA+) in 39.1 innings. One year ago, he was almost out of baseball entirely. Now, with four-plus years of club control left, his resurgence could make him attractive to playoff-hopeful teams looking for bullpen arms.
Miami will be stuck with Avisaíl García for the long haul
Avisail Garcia - Miami Marlins (1) pic.twitter.com/YZe4Icc7vE— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) April 17, 2022
When the club signed him to a 4-year/$53M deal in the offseason, many around baseball questioned Miami’s decision to commit more than $13 million annually to a hitter with a career 105 OPS+, and five years removed from his best offensive season. The early returns on that deal have been less than promising—.208 with 6 K’s in 6 games—but there’s still time he’ll figure things out. If not, Miami could be stuck giving regular at-bats to a guy clogging up an already-thin payroll.
The offensive black hole that is Marlins’ catching persists
The Marlins ridding themselves of Jorge Alfaro was addition by subtraction. In his three seasons with the club, Alfaro contributed greatly to the team’s collective 79 wRC+ at the position, a mark which ranked 24th. Jacob Stallings represents an upgrade in every sense of the word, especially on the defensive side of the ball—in 2021, he led all catchers with 20 defensive runs saved, according to Fielding Bible.
It is of note, though, that he has yet to post an OPS above .708 in any season in which he’s played more than 40 games. Early returns from his first 26 plate appearances have been ugly (.442 OPS, 9 K’s) with an uncharacteristically high swinging strike rate. While the Marlins may have solved their post-Realmuto era defensive instabilities, the whereabouts of Stallings’ bat are still unknown.
The trade calls for Pablo López could be answered
There's that Pablo López changeup— Just Baseball (@JustBBMedia) April 15, 2022
He rings up the MVP on a filthy off-speed pitch at 89 pic.twitter.com/CMsnOAmWR0
I want to preface this by noting that this is merely speculatory. No true signs point to López being available. While a report from earlier this year noted the team’s willingness to deal from their stockpile of young, controllable starters, López was a name the team reportedly wished to keep off the table. Should the first half prove a glimpse into what could be another losing effort for the Fish, López, who owns a 0.87 ERA in 2 starts this season, will become a coveted arm on the trade market.
2022 proves to be the end of “Donnie Baseball” in Miami
When the club picked up his option for 2022 last July, one could assume Kim Ng and co. were set to augment the roster in hopes of contending in the coming season. Those additions, of which we noted a few, come with added pressure for a manager to guide them to an eventual playoff berth. Anything less than that could signal an organizational decision to go in a different direction and to call that idea a possibility in Miami would prove a failure to acknowledge the realities of the business of baseball.