The Marlins settled with all five of their remaining arbitration eligible players on Friday, a big move for GM Kim Ng and the front office as they avoid arbitration court this season. Despite team revenue being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they showed a willingness to compromise with these players rather than fighting for every penny and dragging out the process.
The Marlins have agreed to terms on contracts for the 2021 season with C Jorge Alfaro, INF Brian Anderson, LHP Richard Bleier, RHP Adam Cimber and RHP Yimi Garcia.— Marlins Communications (@MarlinsComms) January 15, 2021
With these signings, the Marlins have agreed to terms with all arbitration eligible players.
Settling these salaries gives the Marlins a better idea of how much flexibility they have to make additional moves as the offseason winds down. The Marlins Opening Day payroll is now projected at $56.9 million (h/t Roster Resource)—that is currently about 18 million dollars under what the 2020 year-end payroll would’ve been if extrapolated over a full-length season.
Anderson is obviously the biggest name on this list and it was key for the Marlins to avoid arbitration court with him. Anderson has been a hot name among Marlins fans for an extension the past couple years, but Ng basically tabled that discussion earlier this winter when she was noncommittal to a big extension. Avoiding arbitration with Anderson is a good way for the Marlins to get back in good graces with Anderson if they want to pursue an extension in the future. Anderson slashed .255/.345/.465/.810 with a 121 wRC+ and 1.2 WAR last season.
Alfaro was also big for the Marlins to get settled. With the Marlins catching situation currently in jeopardy and his poor performance last year, getting Alfaro for cheap gives the Marlins a better idea of his value as a trade piece. Alfaro put together a .226/.280/.344/.624 slashline last season, resulting in a measly 71 wRC+ and -0.3 fWAR.
The three relievers immediately become the highest-paid members of the 2021 ‘pen (pending possible free agent signings). Adam Cimber, who came over from the Cleveland Baseball Team this offseason, has a 3.89 career ERA and 6.87 K/9. Richard Bleier was a key contributor for the Marlins last year as he was arguably their best lefty reliever. He posted a 2.77 FIP and 5.94 K/9, even better than his career norms in both categories. Yimi García could be a candidate to get the ball in the 9th for the Fish. He only pitched in 14 games, but Garcia was incredibly impressive last year posting a 0.60 ERA and 11.40 K/9. He should be a bargain at $1.9M.
How much dealing the Marlins will be doing this offseason remains to be seen. Aside from the obvious consequences of the pandemic, they are still in negotiations for their next local TV deal and looking for a stadium naming rights sponsor. Regardless, they should be able to add to the team at least a little bit with the current payroll they have (only Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Cleveland have less money on the books).
A possible trade candidate we’ve heard a lot about recently also settled today with his current club. Willson Contreras and the Cubs settled at $6.65M, $4.6M more than current Marlins starter Jorge Alfaro. If the Marlins are serious about becoming a contender, that much money is a small price to pay for a player of Contreras’s quality. That’s a good price for that valuable of a player and makes him that much more of an enticing trade candidate. If I’m the Marlins, I’m on the phone with the Cubs right now trying to get that deal done.