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Offseason-In-Review: Miami Marlins

New ownership group sells off big stars in hopes of building a perennial contender in future

MLB: Miami Marlins-Press Conference Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Marlins (77-85)

Additions: 2B Starlin Castro, OF Cameron Maybin, OF Lewis Brinson, SS Isan Diaz, OF Monte Harrison, OF Magneuris Sierra, SP Jordan Yamamoto, SP Sandy Alcantara, SP Zac Gallen, SP Daniel Castano, SP Jorge Guzman, IF Jose Devers, SP Nick Neidert, SP/RP Robert Dugger, IF Christopher Torres, 1B Garrett Cooper, RP Caleb Smith, RP Jumbo Diaz (minor-league deal),

Subtractions: OF Giancarlo Stanton, OF Christian Yelich, OF Marcell Ozuna, 2B/OF Dee Gordon, OF Ichiro Suzuki, SP Edinson Volquez, C A.J. Ellis, SP Jeff Locke, RP Dustin McGowan, IF Mike Aviles, SP Michael King

Talk about making bold moves.

Out of all the major-league teams, the Marlins had the busiest winter, as they made a ton of moves, including four huge trades that shook up their organization and the baseball world.

Their new ownership group, headed by principal owner Bruce Sherman and CEO Derek Jeter, wanted to basically start from scratch by slashing payroll to roughly $90 million. They accomplished that goal in large part due to them dealing National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton and his massive contract (10 years, $295 million with a $25 million club option for 2028) to the Yankees for infielder Starlin Castro and mid-range prospects Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers in December.

Yes, the Marlins received a ton of financial relief (the Yankees are paying $265 million of Stanton’s contract), but the deal was not the ideal trade they wanted to make. Their top choices to deal Stanton to were the Giants and the Cardinals. They had trade agreements in place with both franchises, but they bowed out after Stanton declined both deals. The power of Stanton’s no-trade clause backed Jeter and the Marlins into a corner to the point where the Yankees took advantage of the situation and have become even stronger than the club that lost to the eventual World Series champion Astros in seven games in the ALCS.

Four days prior to the Stanton blockbuster, the Marlins traded veteran second baseman Dee Gordon to the Mariners for prospects Christopher Torres, Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger. Gordon was a nice player for Miami, but the club didn’t want to pay possibly $52 million over the next four years ($38 million guaranteed in first three years, $14 million club option in 2021) to a player entering his 30s this year.

After shipping out Gordon and Stanton, the Marlins struck their third deal of December, this time with the Cardinals. They traded Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis for prospects Sandy Alcantara, Magneuris Sierra, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano. For the Marlins, trading Ozuna was a case of striking while the iron was hot, as the 27-year-old was coming off posting career highs in homers (37) and RBI (124). In return, they got three top-30 prospects from the Cardinals, with starter Alcantara and outfielder Sierra being the jewels of the trade.

Their fourth and final major trade occurred in January, as they sent budding star outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers for four more prospects. Because of what had transpired in the three previous trades, Yelich expressed unhappiness with the organization and wanted to play for a contender. This, along with possibly paying him $61.5 million over the next five years, made it a priority for the Marlins to try to deal him before spring training started.

When it was all said and done, the Marlins ended up bringing back 13 total prospects in the four deals they made, replenishing the farm system in a big way. According to Baseball America, Miami’s farm system ranks 19th overall, up 10 spots from last year and in 2016. The Yelich deal reeled in probable starting center fielder Lewis Brinson and Alcantara is competing for a rotation spot, making it look as if the future is really bright down in South Beach.

Outside of the getting payroll down and acquiring prospects to fill most of their holes for the long term, the Marlins did reunite with outfielder Cameron Maybin by signing him to a one-year, $3.25 million deal. Maybin, who played for the Marlins from 2008-10, will try to mentor younger players like Brinson and Derek Dietrich while he fills in the right field spot. They also released veterans such as Edison Volquez, Ichiro Suzuki and A.J. Ellis.

As far as free agents go, the Marlins are not looking to bring any big-time guys to help their lineup, especially after getting rid of their high-priced stars. They are hoping guys like Castro, J.T. Realmuto, Maybin, Dan Straily, Jose Urena and Brad Ziegler can be enough to help bridge the gap for a couple seasons before their young crop of players eventually takes the field and tries to get the club back to being a perennial playoff contender.