Miami Marlins: 4 Reasons to Expect Major Offseason Moves
The Miami Marlins will be revamped in 2013.
Not revamped in the sense that they will suddenly start competing for pennants, but there will undoubtedly be a new foundation that the team can begin to reap the benefits of for future success.
After spending nearly $200 million in the free agent market last offseason, the Marlins fell flat on their face and finished last in the NL East in 2012. However, the team will enter 2013 with the defined philosophy that helped them earn two World Series titles in 1997 and 2003.
Miami's attempt to transform into a big-market spending juggernaut was an uncharacteristic move for an organization that has had a tremendous amount of success building from within. The 2003 team won the World Series not because of big-time free agent acquisitions, but because Josh Beckett, AJ Burnett and Miguel Cabrera stepped in as youngsters and produced.
The Marlins are never going to be the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, or Los Angeles Dodgers. However, they can still compete with the big spenders by making smart, calculated decisions with their money while allowing new talent to grow from within.
Let's take a look at four reasons why there will be major offseason moves made in Miami, and how the team will set itself up for future success.
2012 Was a Disaster
The Marlins came into 2012 hoping they had formed an instant contender in the previous offseason.
With Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes on one side of the infield, Heath Bell in the bullpen and a new manager in Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins entered spring training as a playoff team on paper for the first time in several seasons. However, things did not exactly go as planned.
The Marlins put forth a dismal 69-93 record, which was actually down three wins from their 2011 performance. The team was not competitive in any way, shape or form, and a midseason fire sale broke up what was supposed to be the core of Miami's future success.
As the team prepares for the coming offseason, it would be wise to expect more moves to be made. Before the Marlins can win again, they must cut their payroll as much as possible and remove any and all dead weight left over from last offseason's spending spree.
Although Carlos Zambrano's salary will come off the books, the Marlins were only paying a small portion of the $15 million he made in 2012. Heath Bell's ERA was a staggering 5.09 this season. With that, Jose Reyes dropped 50 points off his 2011 batting average and Josh Johnson only won eight games. While it's not definite that any of these players will be moved, the Marlins will listen to offers for anybody on their roster heading into 2013.
2013 Will See a Youth Movement
Despite finishing the 2012 season as the laughingstock of baseball, the Marlins are not in such a bad spot. They traded Hanley Ramirez for a promising young pitching prospect in Nate Eovaldi and have a few other veterans who they can trade away for high-level prospects in the near future.
Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Heath Bell all possess value on the open market. Dealing any of these players could help further Miami's attempt to rebuild with youngsters from within.
Regardless, with guys like Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich ascending rapidly through the farm system, Miami is a team with a promising future. The combination of prospects, along with veteran trade bait that could prove useful at next season's trade deadline, will make the Marlins a formidable opponent in coming seasons.
The allure of increased revenue from a new stadium caused Miami to break from traditional methods. As a team that builds from within and trades their key players before they hit free agency, Miami got caught up in signing big-name free agents who have underproduced so far. As soon as the team can get out from under the bad contracts they have locked themselves into and get their younger prospects in the field, we will be able to start talking about the Miami Marlins as contenders once again.
Ozzie Guillen Is a Bad Fit
For Miami to truly receive a fresh start in their new ballpark, Ozzie Guillen must be relieved of duty. Although he undoubtedly possesses an elite knowledge of the game, Guillen is not a guy who ownership should allow around the young, developing players on the roster now and in the future.
When an established roster is in place with productive veterans, Ozzie Guillen is a fantastic manager. He has the ability to rally his team around his unorthodox style, and his players feed off his energy. However, Ozzie does not handle losing well. His attitude deteriorates quickly, and his team suffers because of it.
The Marlins are going to do a lot of losing over the next year or two. This team is not ready to compete with the truly elite major league squads, and they may not be ready for another few years.
Ozzie Guillen's renegade personality is not the right fit in Miami right now. Miami needs a calm, collected manager who will have patience with younger players who will undoubtedly experience growing pains as the Marlins attempt to rebuild into a winning ball club.
Miami Is Cash Strapped
Perhaps the simplest, yet most unfortunate reason the Marlins will incite wholesale changes throughout their organization this offseason is that they simply do not have the money to pay their high-profile free agents, especially if they are going to finish in last place in the NL East.
Miami finished 18th in MLB in attendance in 2012, which is slightly below average. However, the Marlins entered this season with the league's sixth-highest payroll. The Hanley Ramirez trade and the presumed departure of Carlos Zambrano will alleviate a significant portion of that. However, the team still has Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Josh Johnson eating up an excess of $55 million of the team's payroll heading into next season.
For a team that is not expected to win again any time soon, paying four players that kind of money makes no sense. Trading the few established veterans the Marlins do have for cheaper prospects would alleviate the payroll concerns and allow for more development from within.