The Miami Marlins are coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history and also the best season in the Jeter-Sherman era. The Fish finished their season with a 31-29 record and made it to the postseason for the first since 2003.
The Marlins also swept the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card Series before losing the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. There were a lot of positives for the Marlins in this shortened 2020 season.
The team looks the most competitive they have been in a while, their pitching staff is very young and talented, the offense improved from last season and the farm system is still one of the top in all of baseball.
While Marlins fans are very excited for pitchers and catchers to report for the 2021 season, the Marlins still need to make some improvements. There’s a lot of talent available in this free agency and the Marlins should get involved and try to make a deeper postseason run in 2021. Here are five moves Marlins fans would like to see happen this offseason.
1. Sign or trade for a catcher
The Marlins had one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball but their offense was average to below average. While their offense ranked 17th in batting average and on base percentage, their SLG and OPS ranked in the bottom half of the MLB.
One of the weaknesses in the Marlins lineup was the catching position. The Marlins started the season with Francisco Cervelli, who was good for the Fish but is now retired. Their other options for catchers are Jorge Alfaro and Chad Wallach.
Alfaro and Wallach both struggled at the plate as Alfaro slashed .226/.280/.344 and Wallach slashed .227/.277/.364. Both of these numbers aren’t impressive to say the least. Alfaro was more upside at the plate but Wallach does a much better job working with pitchers.
The Marlins need to bring an everyday catcher who can produce at the plate and also call a good game for his pitchers. The good news for the Marlins is that there are a couple of really good options behind the plate.
Former Marlin J.T. Realmuto and All-Star James McCann are both free agents. Realmuto is arguably the best bat available this free agency. Realmuto seems like a long shot for the Marlins but I don’t doubt that they’ll kick the tires on him while also trying to sign McCann.
The former Arkansas Razorback is coming off a very productive 2020 season. McCann batted .289 with seven home runs and had a .896 OPS in 31 games. McCann would definitely be an upgrade and could come at a cheaper price than originally expected.
If the Marlins fail to sign Realmuto and McCann, the Fish use some of their top prospects and trade for a catchers. Two catchers that could be options for the Marlins are Salvador Perez and Christian Vazquez.
Both of these catchers are playing for teams that are currently rebuilding and not ready to win now. Perez has one more year left on his deal so he could be on the move. Perez is a veteran catcher that do everything you want out of a catcher. The Royals also have a top catching prospect in M.J. Melendez who could be their catcher of the future.
The Boston Red Sox were one of the worst teams in baseball last season and need some help. One of their biggest needs is pitching. The Fish have plenty of pitching prospects that the Red Sox could use in order for Miami to get Christian Vazquez who won’t be a free agent until 2023.
2. Enhance bullpen
The Marlins had some really nice bullpen pieces last season with guys like Yimi Garcia, James Hoyt and others. However, some of the better bullpen arms like Brandon Kintzler and Brad Boxberger are now free agents.
The Marlins declined Kintzler’s option and paid him a $250,000 buyout. Both of these arms played big roles last season and fans wouldn’t mind bringing them back. On the other hand, this free agent class has a lot of back-end bullpen arms available.
Relief pitchers like Brad Hand, Liam Hendriks, Alex Colome, Roberto Osuna, Ken Giles, Kirby Yates and Blake Treinen. There are other good relief pitchers that could serve as a back end bullpen piece but expect the Marlins to sign at least one of those relievers while also trying to bring back Kintzler on a cheaper deal.
3. Extend Brian Anderson
Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson is best and youngest players on the Marlins roster. When Derek Jeter started the rebuild in Miami, Anderson was already in the Marlins organization and earned the starting third base role.
Anderson has been a joy to watch for Marlins fans as he’s a good bat, one of the best hitters in baseball with runners in scoring position and a great glove. There were already Brian Anderson extension talks happening before the COVID-19 pandemic so a Brian Anderson extension could be coming soon for the Marlins.
Anderson is and should be the third baseman of the future. He’s a fan favorite and a player that does a lot at the plate and defensively. In the 2020 season, Anderson led the Marlins in home runs with 11 and was also a finalist for the NL Gold Glove.
If Jeter wants to continue building trust between him and the Miami community, an Anderson extension goes a long way. It shows Marlins fans that they’ve identified a player who can help lead this organization for years to come.
4. Sign or trade for another bat
Besides getting a catcher, the Marlins might be interested in signing or trading for another bat in their lineup. The Marlins offense wasn’t bad but they did lack power.
Players like Jesús Aguilar, Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper have solid power, just not quite enough to carry the rest of the lineup. Starling Marte is a solid power bat but he’ll most likely bat in the No. 2 spot.
If there’s a position where the Marlins are especially vulnerable, it would be second base. After Jonathan Villar was traded to the Blue Jays, the Fish didn’t really have an answer at second. Isan Diaz didn’t produce very much in limited playing time. Jazz Chisholm was called up but he might not be ready to be a full time second baseman at the major league level.
Another thing the Marlins could do is get involved in the Francisco Lindor trade talks. The All-Star shortstop is expected to be traded by the Cleveland Indians this offseason. The Marlins are considered a dark horse to trade for Lindor but they have the resources to get a deal.
The main thing is trying to convince Lindor to sign long term with the Marlins instead of becoming a free agent after the 2021 season. It’s going to be interesting to see who the Marlins can grab from free agency but put in their lineup.
5. Continue to add to the farm system
Since Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman arrived in Miami, the Marlins have a top-tier farm system in baseball. MLB.com has the Marlins farm system ranked fifth in the MLB and first in their division. The Marlins will continue to add to their farm system as the 2021 international free agent signing period begins on January 15.
There are a couple of prospects that the Marlins should be interested in, but the one who reportedly already has a deal in place is Yiddi Cappe. The 18-year old Cuban shortstop is 6’3”, 175 pounds and has drawn some comparisons to Carlos Correa and Jeter himself.
Another available Cuban who can make a big impact is outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes, the top-ranked international prospect on MLB Pipeline. Cespedes is 23 years old and the younger brother of two-time Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes.
He was a career .287 hitter in Cuba and also played on their national team. Cespedes is a line-drive hitter with plus speed and good defense. He also added 15 pounds of muscle to create more power and bat speed.
Cespedes could be an option for the Marlins if they like what they see in him. There is also talk about Cespedes potentially playing in Japan before playing professional baseball in the states. The city of Miami and its culture could be intriguing and persuade him to sign with the Marlins (if they have sufficient room in their bonus pool to afford him).