Arrivals: Matt Angle, Jeff Baker, Joe Benson, Brian Bogusevic, Carter Capps, Juan Diaz, Rafael Furcal, Reed Johnson, Garrett Jones, Carlos Marmol (pending physical), Casey McGehee, Jimmy Paredes, Henry Rodriguez, Josh Rodriguez, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jordany Valdespin, Ty Wigginton
Departures: Jonathan Albaladejo, Jordan Brown, Jose Ceda, Chris Coghlan, Matt Diaz, Nick Green, Koyie Hill, Austin Kearns, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Joe Mahoney, Logan Morrison, Bryan Petersen, Zach Phillips, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Chad Qualls, Justin Ruggiano, Chris Valaika, Gil Velazquez, Ryan Webb
Analysis of offseason moves
When the Marlins completed the 12-player fire-sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in November 2012, then-Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest admitted free agents might be reluctant to sign with the organization. He told The Associated Press, via ESPN.com: "I understand there may be some disdain in the marketplace. We won't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents. It's definitely not great for the club, and we're going to have to deal with it."
More than a year later, it seems the Marlins are able to lure talent to South Beach as long as the stars are aligned properly. They signed four prominent free agents, all of whom are expected to improve MLB's worst offense in 2013.
The first player they reeled in was probably the biggest catch of them all. The Marlins signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, fresh off a World Series title run with the Boston Red Sox, to a three-year, $21 million deal.
Although he hit .273 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI in 121 games—numbers that seem like they hardly moves the needle—he is a huge upgrade. With Jeff Mathis and Rob Brantly receiving most of the playing time last season, Marlins catchers hit a combined .194 with a .529 OPS and smacked just nine home runs in 572 at-bats.
Saltalamacchia grew up north of Miami in the Palm Beach area, so the lure of coming home was too much to pass up. He told The Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
This was a perfect fit. The Marlins made it known that I was a big part of their organization going forward, and they wanted me to be a part of it. Watching these guys on TV, all these young arms, and just getting really excited about that. But I loved my time in Boston. I had a great time with those guys. Still talk to them. They're going to be friends for life. But in this business there's always things that happen.
Rafael Furcal was the next to join the Marlins. He signed on the same day as Saltalamacchia, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3 million plus incentives. Furcal, a three-time All-Star shortstop who missed all of 2013 because of Tommy John surgery to his right elbow, will shift to second base. If healthy, the switch-hitter will lead off, replacing the departed Juan Pierre.
The next to join the Marlins was first baseman Garrett Jones, who inked a two-year, $7.75 million contract less than a week after Saltalamacchia and Furcal were on board.
After he hit .274 with a career-high 27 homers and 86 RBI in 2012, Jones' numbers dipped as he batted .233 with 15 homers and 51 RBI in 2013. But according to MLB.com, only 48 players in the National League and 98 total in the majors hit as many as 15 bombs in 2013. The Marlins had just two players in double figures and finished as the only team in the majors with less than 100 home runs.
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill spoke about Jones to the Miami Herald:
That’s what we’re expecting. You look over his track record, and he’s been a consistent performer — 15 to 27 home runs —consistent production to go along with [Giancarlo Stanton] and now [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia and [Rafael] Furcal.
With one more position to fill—the black hole known as third base—the Marlins finished their shopping spree by convincing Casey McGehee to sign a one-year, $1.1 million salary with the chance to earn more based on incentives.
Like Saltalamacchia and Jones, McGehee could be a massive upgrade at third base, which included the now-departed Placido Polanco, who totaled three homers and 44 RBIs in 2013—worst in the majors in both categories. Although McGehee played in Japan last year, he hit .292 with 28 home runs.
The Marlins fortified their bench a few days ago when they signed Jeff Baker to a two-year deal worth $3.7 million. He has a career .267/.321/.440 slash line and, more importantly, has played six different positions in his career. The only positions he has yet to play are shortstop, catcher and pitcher.
Those four additions plus the arrival of Baker masked the few prominent players whom the Marlins lost. The biggest departures were relief pitchers Chad Qualls and Ryan Webb.
Qualls was 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 66 games last season, while Webb, whom the Marlins decided to non-tender along with 2009 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner Chris Coghlan, went 2-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 66 games.
However, by signing Jones, the Marlins used their surplus of first basemen to send Logan Morrison to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Carter Capps. The Marlins also added former Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, pending his physical, a few days ago.
The Marlins also swapped reserve outfielders as they traded Justin Ruggiano, who finished second on the team last season with 18 home runs, to the Chicago Cubs for Brian Bogusevic in a cost-cutting move.
According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Marlins didn’t want to spend the estimated $1.5 million Ruggiano might receive in arbitration, whereas Bogusevic will likely cost the Marlins about the league minimum of $500,000:
'It just allows us to re-allocate those dollars,' Hill said of the difference in salary between the two players. 'Given the fact that we’re going to go with the kids in the outfield as the everyday players, we didn’t want to allocate the dollars that we had in that role in Ruggiano. We wanted to spend it elsewhere.'