Miami Marlins: 4 Players They Need to Pursue This Offseason
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The moves made by the Miami Marlins during the last offseason have not worked, which means it’s time to start thinking about players to add for 2013. The season may not be over in the literal sense, but the Marlins have certainly given up on it.
The Fish were supposed to be playoff contenders this year, but instead they have found themselves bottom of the National League East for the second year in a row.
Another classic Marlins fire sale didn’t do anything to regain the trust of the fans, and the new park hasn’t been the symbol of rebirth that was hoped for.
Still, the best thing about a poor year is that things can always get better with some choice acquisitions in the offseason. Here are five players who could help bring the Marlins back to some form of relevance.
Mike Napoli would give the Marlins some stability behind the plate.
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
John Buck’s contract is up after next year and he is unlikely to figure highly in the Marlins’ plans for the new season. He’s batting .193 this year and even though he’s not known as much of a hitter, his catching isn’t enough to consider a contract extension.
After promoting Rob Brantly from Triple A New Orleans, manager Ozzie Guillen then went on to say that Brantly wasn’t ready for major league baseball and that the fans should prepare themselves for mistakes and disappointment (via SunSentinel.com).
Although Brantly is a good prospect and has already shown he can make a contribution on offense, he isn’t yet consistent enough as a catcher to lock down the starting job.
This is where Mike Napoli comes in.
By his own admission, Napoli hasn’t had the best of years. He has struggled with injuries and seen his batting average drop as a result. He is better than this suggests, however, as well as being an excellent catcher who could give the Marlins a dependable presence behind the plate.
The added value of bringing Napoli to Marlins Park comes with his versatility. Napoli has previously shown that he can be a valuable option at first base as well as catcher, which would bring the front office some extra relief.
Kyle Lohse would immediately strengthen the pitching rotation.
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Despite an excellent run of form, Kyle Lohse may not be with the St. Louis Cardinals next year. After Jake Westbrook received a one-year contract, it has been rumored that Lohse may be heading for free agency.
When talking to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lohse was pragmatic about his future as a Cardinal:
I'm not going to them. I figure if they're interested, they'd come to me. That hasn't happened. They know where I'm at. I'm in the same place I've been the last five years.
I've enjoyed it here. They've done some great things for me and I'd like to think I've done some things for this organization. It's a business. I know that. The time to address it will come sooner or later.
The reason for the silence is probably the same old story. As he is nearing the end of his current contract, Lohse’s outstanding performances this year make his bargaining position strong in free agency.
The Cardinals are unlikely to be able to match the offers he will receive and may be forced to cut their losses.
While it’s true that the same problem could affect any decision to bring him to Miami, Lohse’s record in the National League is simply too good to abandon the idea. Lohse’s win/loss record is currently .867—the best in the NL—and that kind of performance is something that has been lacking in the Marlins’ pitching rotation this year.
Lohse is only improving as the season reaches its end, perfectly setting himself up for free agency. MarlinsDaily.com reported that the Fish will have around $20 million to spend over the offseason and they will almost certainly look to upgrade their defense.
It’s unlikely that the team will suddenly be contenders just by spending that $20 million, but they have to get better. The addition of Lohse would do this, but dare they take the risk?
Michael Bourn will likely be expensive, but the Marlins need someone of his caliber.
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
It may seem redundant to speculate about the Marlins being unable to afford one player and then follow it up with another whose services may prove expensive. However, the team badly needs a center fielder and Michael Bourn becomes a free agent this offseason.
Nick Carfado reported for The Boston Globe that the Atlanta Braves “aren’t holding out much hope that they can re-sign Bourn when he becomes a free agent," so it looks like Bourn is headed for free agency.
Bourn has had a great year, hitting a career-high nine homers, as well as continuing his impossibly solid defensive play. He also steals a lot of bases. The Marlins could sure use all of those things right now.
The Nats have more money to spend, but it doesn’t mean that Mike Rizzo will spend it. Also, as Chase Hughes pointed out for CSNWashington.com, this would likely mean that Adam LaRoche is forced out of the lineup via his team option for 2013.
The Marlins would love to see such a threat from their division wearing their team colors, but it all comes down to the risk. The Marlins are struggling to fill their new ballpark. More wins would change that, but if another spending spree brings results like this year, it means losing a great deal.
The nature of the big leagues means that in order to win, teams have to spend more money. It's picking the right gambles that's the tricky part.
Giancarlo Stanton must be given a contract extension this year or the Marlins risk losing him.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Giancarlo Stanton might be the most important piece of the puzzle. The fact that he’s already on the team doesn’t change a thing.
Stanton has been a ray of light in the Marlins’ season and remains one of the few reasons to tune in to the rest of it. However, if the team doesn’t lock him up for the foreseeable future, they might find themselves battling to keep him.
Writing for CBSSports.com, Jack Moore cited similar precedents:
Possible comparables include Ryan Braun, who signed a $51 million extension in the middle of his second season as a major leaguer, and Justin Upton, who signed a $51.25 million extension just before the start of his third season. Both extensions covered six years.
Moor also mentions that salary inflation will mean Stanton makes more money than both Braun and Upton, but if the Marlins are serious about building around him they should start the talks.
It may be that they have already begun. Team president David Samson spoke to Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post and indicated that there had been some contract discussion. When asked about it, however, Samson replied that he didn’t think it was “anything concrete.”
Stanton has already had a few injuries that could raise a red flag for teams looking to offer him big money, but he simply has too much talent to put them off altogether.
Stanton is arbitration-eligible in 2013 and free agency-bound in 2016. The Marlins know how valuable he is, and at 22, he could be a fixture at the club for a long time.
It’s time to commit to a Stanton-led future.