Miami Marlins (77-85), 2nd in the NL East
Free Agents: Ichiro, Mike Aviles, A.J. Ellis, Dustin McGowan
The Miami Marlins managed to finish second in arguably the worst division in baseball en route to the club’s eighth consecutive losing season. With a significant roster turnover needed to change the franchises’ fortunes of late and a new ownership group in place led by Derek Jeter, the Marlins will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this winter.
The biggest question regarding the Marlins this offseason is a glaring one: what will they do with Giancarlo Stanton? Stanton, 28 this week, enjoyed a fully healthy season, and it was by far the best of his career. The Miami star slugged a league leading 59 home runs and 132 RBIs, and he also hit to a .281/.376/.631 line (1.007 OPS) putting him in the hunt for his first career MVP award.
Still, the Marlins will certainly shop Stanton, who is under contract until 2027 as a result of the massive 13-year, $325-million extension he inked during the 2014 offseason. Even with that, there are a number of interested clubs, and the Marlins could sell high on the possible NL MVP.
And the Marlins will not stop there. The club has also been exploring dealing Dee Gordon, even before the new ownership group came into place, so that is unlikely to change. If they can find a favorable deal, Jeter will likely jump on it to acquire as many young assets as possible while shedding salary.
Another veteran name the Marlins will look to deal while slashing salary is Martin Prado. Like Gordon, Prado’s name came up in trade rumors throughout the summer. With two years left on his contract, the Marlins may have to eat some of that money, but they can be expected to deal him.
The Marlins may even listen on Christian Yellich. The 25-year-old stud enjoyed another successful season, and he is under a very team-friendly seven-year, $49.57-million deal that runs through 2021 and includes a 2022 option. With the star caliber player he is and the team friendly deal he is under, it would take a king’s ransom for the Marlins to deal Yellich, but all bets are off when it comes to the Marlins this offseason.
So why are the Marlins looking to chop a significant portion of the salary obligations that the new ownership group inherits?
As a club that has not enjoyed a winning season since 2009, Jeter and company will look to reestablish a winning culture that the Marlins had in the early 2000’s. Granted, it could be a colossal mistake to come in and immediately tear apart a roster with several youthful assets, but the Marlins are in dire need of a change, and that is why they will surely be very active in trade rumors this winter.
Additionally, the Marlins need pitching. Miami ranked 13th in the NL with a 4.82 ERA in 2017. That was in large part due to injuries to Edinson Volquez and Wei-Yin Chen, as well as inconsistencies from Dan Straily, Adam Conley and others.
Moreover, the Marlins are in dire need of increasing their attendance over these next few years, as they ranked 27th in 2017 in total attendance, and have been in the bottom five in each of the last five seasons. Is trading commodities such as Stanton and others a way to improve attendance? Probably not, but the Marlins are not leaving any options off the table this offseason, even if it means sacrificing the 2018, and looking to fielding a competitive team in 2019 and beyond.