With pitchers and catchers reporting on Wednesday, 2021 Spring Training is just about to get started for the Miami Marlins. The Fish are coming off a strong 2020 season in which they reached the postseason for the first time since 2003.
During their postseason run, the Marlins swept the Cubs in two games in the Wild Card Series. However, the Fish got swept themselves by the Atlanta Braves in three games during the Divisional round.
The Marlins have made some changes this offseason especially in the front office. The Marlins hired Kim Ng to be their new general manager making her the first woman to become a general manager in North American professional team sports and MLB’s first Asian-American to hold that title. Ng and the Marlins front office weren’t very active this offseason—as CEO Derek Jeter reiterated during Monday’s press conference, they’re confident in their internal options and top prospects will be given a chance to succeed at the highest level.
There are a few key questions remaining for the Marlins and Spring Training will likely answer those questions for the franchise and their fans.
1. Who is the Marlins closer?
The Marlins lost their closer from the 2020 season as Brandon Kintzler decided to sign a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Kintzler was offered a MLB contract from the Marlins but the Phillies committed to pay him a higher salary if he makes their roster.
With the loss of Kintzler, the Fish need to identify Kintzler’s successor. There are three viable candidates for the role of Marlins closer this upcoming season in Anthony Bass, Yimi García and Dylan Floro.
Anthony Bass spent the majority of last season as the Toronto Blue Jays closer before signing with the Marlins for a 2-year/$5 million contract. Bass had a solid 2020 with the Jays as he posted a 3.51 ERA with seven saves, 3.62 FIP and 1.01 WHIP. Bass has more experience as a closer than these other contenders and could be the favorite to win the job.
Yimi García was the Marlins’ top setup man last season and was spectacular. He posted a 0.60 ERA with a 1.66 FIP, 11.4 K/9 and 0.93 WHIP. He’ll be eligible for free agency next winter.
Newly acquired Dylan Floro came to Fish last week via trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers . They sent left-handed pitcher Alex Vesia and 2020 5th-round draft pick Kyle Hunt to the Dodgers in return. Floro is also coming off a good season: 2.59 ERA with a 2.66 FIP, 1.5 BB/9 and a 1.11 WHIP.
2. What will the everyday outfield look like?
The first thing the Marlins did this offseason was pick up the 2021 club option for outfielder Starling Marte. Bringing him back for another season leave no doubt that he’ll be their starting center fielder. The Marlins were looking to add another veteran contributor who can handle the corner spots and did that with the signing of Adam Duvall (Jeter confirmed his deal in Monday’s presser, but he hasn’t been officially added to the roster yet).
However, MLB does not plan to use the universal DH this season as the league did in 2020 leaving the Marlins in an interesting predicament. The Marlins have four outfielders who can be everyday players but not enough lineup spots for them to do so.
How will the Marlins find a way to keep Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, Garrett Cooper and Adam Duvall all happy? It will interesting to see how the Marlins utilize them.
3. When will Kim Ng realize Brian Anderson is the Marlins long-term third baseman?
Marlins fans were excited when it was announced that Kim Ng would be their new general manager. She is a trailblazer with all the necessary experience to lead the organization.
One thing Marlins fans overwhelmingly want to see is a contract extension for their starting third baseman, Brian Anderson. Midway through the 2020-21 offseason, Ng was asked by Craig Mish about the possibility of signing BA to a contract extension. Her response:
“In terms of Brian, I have not spoken to his agent yet. I would say, I personally would like to see how this year goes before we venture down that road so I have a better understanding of who he is as a player and I just get a better sense of the situation.”
Marlins fans were hoping to have Anderson locked up to a long-term contract by now. That isn’t going to happen but perhaps things could change in the coming weeks.
If Anderson continues to do what he does, Ng should move quickly to make him a Miami Marlin for the foreseeable future before his asking price soars.