After a 2021 season in which they finished 67-95 and missed the playoffs by a sizable margin, the Miami Marlins find themselves entering a pivotal 2021 MLB offseason.
First and foremost, the organization must decide what they’re trying to be. Are they slow-playing their position in the National League and continuing their long rebuild? Or will they look to accelerate their position in the standings and make a 2022 playoff push?
Most sports betting sites are counting on the former. The Marlins are not viewed as primary, or even secondary, 2022 World Series contenders as the 2021 offseason gets underway.
Still, that can change in a heartbeat. With under $50 million in guaranteed salary on their books ahead of the 2022 season, the Marlins have plenty of money to spend if they so please and will have the ability to shop from a pretty deep free-agency class.
Granted, Miami has a lot of ground to make up. They have finished above .500 only once since coming over from Florida, and that was during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. They also aren’t working with an incumbent class of stars. They traded away right-handed pitcher Yimi Garcia at the deadline and don’t have any of this offseason’s top-100 free agents already under their umbrella, according to The Athletic.
All of which is immaterial. Regardless of how much the Marlins actually improve, they are in a position to get better via free agency. The key is spotlighting their biggest roster needs and addressing them. With this in mind, here are the three positions that should top their to-do list entering free agency.
Miami does not currently have their third baseman of the future on the roster. Brian Anderson played in 67 games on the hot corner last season, and the balance of playing time there was awarded to utility infielders.
Ipso facto: Marlins need a drastic upgrade at this pivotal infield slot. And Eduardo Escobar is our favorite fit for them.
What Escobar lacks in a bankable on-base percentage, he makes up for with the potential to clear 30 home runs in a given season. He also has the capacity to log time at first base.
At age 32, he is on the older side if Miami wants to get younger. On the bright side, though, he shouldn’t break the bank with third base alternatives like Kyle Seager and Kris Bryant on the market.
Star power in general is a big need for the Marlins, and they’ll have the easiest time finding a marquee name in the outfield. This year’s free-agency class is littered with guys who can play deep.
In the event Miami is willing to swing for the fences and open up their wallet, Kris Bryant looms as a great fit. Not only did he jack 25 homers and post a .835 on-base-plus-slugging percentage last season while splitting time with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, but he has the bandwidth to soak up reps at third base, meaning he could ostensibly help fill two needs for the Marlins.
Poaching him from San Francisco, his latest team, won’t come cheap. He is on the right side of 30, good for 25 to 30 homers per year and considered one of the top-10 free agents, bar none. Successfully wooing him may be too rich for Miami’s blood unless they plan to make a World Series push.
Then again, the Marlins have cap space to spare. They should absolutely be trying to bag at least one name who puts butts in their seats and capably fills a functional void. Bryant would do both.
Following their decision to move on from Yimi Garcia at the trade deadline, the Marlins could use another arm to guide them out of the bullpen late in games. Dylan Floro filled that role fairly capably to finish the year, but he doesn’t check the “wow” box.
Someone like Raisel Iglesias comes much closer to meeting that criteria. After spending most of his MLB career with the Cincinnati Reds, he was the primary closer for the Los Angeles Angels last season. And the role looked good on him.
Through 70 innings, Iglesias maintained a 2.57 ERA and racked up 34 saves—no small feat for an Angels squad that won just 77 games overall last year. He would be a great get for Miami’s bullpen.