Projecting Miami Marlins Final 25-Man Roster at the Start of Spring Training
Outside of the fact Fernandez will be the 12th youngest pitcher in major league history to start on Opening Day and the youngest since Felix Hernandez to toe the rubber for the Seattle Mariners in 2007, according to the Miami Herald, the news was hardly surprising. Heck, the better question is what took Redmond so long to make the announcement?
But what the news also revealed is, barring injury, Fernandez is penciled in as one of 25 players on the team's active roster when the season begins.
As for the other 24 spots, Redmond has probably already decided who will fill most of those slots. However, there are a few still up for grabs and a month for circumstances to change.
Our job is to figure out who will join Fernandez on the 25-man roster two weeks into spring training...
Virtual locks: Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner
Who is still in play: Tom Koehler, Brad Hand, Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney, Kevin Slowey
Obviously, Fernandez is a lock, and he'll be accompanied by Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, assuming both are healthy.
The No. 4 spot in the rotation is Jacob Turner's to lose. Turner was a favorite to be in the rotation last spring training, but he struggled and was eventually demoted to Triple-A New Orleans to open the season. When he returned to the Marlins, Turner pitched well enough as he had a 3-8 record with a 3.74 ERA in 20 starts, but he pitched poorly down the stretch as he went winless in 12 starts with a 4.92 ERA after the All-Star break.
Miami president of basketball operations Michael Hill told MLB.com that he liked what Turner showed last year.
Turner was a big piece of our rotation when he came back from the Minor Leagues, and he pitched very well. That's the Turner who we would have liked to have seen from the beginning of the season. When he came back from the Minor Leagues, he was focused and did what we expected him to do. If he does that, he should be a part of the rotation.
As for the final rotation spot, it depends on which direction the Marlins want to go.
Tom Koehler and Kevin Slowey have major league experience. If neither claims this slot, one will be moved to the bullpen as a long reliever. Last year, the Marlins chose Koehler instead of Slowey after a spot in the rotation opened up following the Marlins' trade of Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers. After the season, the Marlins outrighted Slowey to the minors before re-signing him to a minor league deal, which essentially forced Slowey to earn his way back on to the team again.
If the Marlins want a left-hander to complement the four right-handers in the rotation, they can go with Brad Hand or Brian Flynn.
The dark horse is Andrew Heaney, a left-hander who is the Marlins best prospect. Remember, it was injuries to Eovaldi and Alvarez at the end of spring training last year that catapulted Fernandez from the minor leagues to stardom. If the same situation occurs this spring, or if Turner falters again and Heaney proves he is ready, then he could steal the final spot in the rotation.
But otherwise, the No. 5 spot in the rotation will belong to...
Who will it be: Tom Koehler
Virtual locks: Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, Carlos Marmol, A.J. Ramos
Who is still in play: Carter Capps, Dan Jennings, Arquimedes Caminero, Grant Dayton, Greg Nappo, Chris Hatcher, Josh Spence, Colby Suggs, Rett Varner, Nick Wittgren, Kevin Slowey
There is little reason to believe, barring injury, that Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos won't be on the Opening Day roster.
As for Carlos Marmol, his wildness is well-documented here, here and here. But he's probably going to be on the Opening Day roster because teams don't hand out a major league contract worth $1.25 million for the 2014 season because they want to flush it down the toilet. And let's face it, the Marlins don't waste money. Another way to think of this is Marmol will be the 2013 version of Jon Rauch or Chad Qualls. Rauch was designated for assignment about seven weeks into the season while Qualls had a solid 2013, going 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA in 66 appearances.
Since the Marlins play 16 games in the first 17 days of the season, there's a 99.9 percent chance Redmond will need a full-time No. 5 starting pitcher to begin the season and will carry 12 pitchers on Opening Day, which means there are three spots available in the bullpen.
Since we tabbed Koehler as the No. 5 starting pitcher, Slowey will probably be the long reliever by default.
Barring a horrible spring or an injury, Carter Capps should make the team. After all, the Marlins believed in Capps so much that they were willing to trade the expendable Logan Morrison for him. Here's what Hill told MLB.com about Capps.
Our scouts identified something within his delivery that we will address immediately that I think will allow him to return to the dominant form we saw from him in 2012. We saw glimpses of it last year, as well. But we are not worried at all that he will not be an effective, back end reliever for us."
With one spot remaining, Redmond could go with any candidate.
Arquimedes Caminero is a hard-throwing right-hander who has proven he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery after he yielded just four earned runs in 13 innings for a 2.77 ERA in his first stint in the majors last year.
Chris Hatcher is a converted catcher who is trying to stay on after three unsuccessful stints. Colby Suggs is a prospect who has a bulldog mentality. Like Suggs, Rett Varner and Nick Wittgren are right-handers who have never pitched in the majors.
If the Marlins want to carry more than one left-hander in the bullpen, which they should, then they could go with Grant Dayton, Greg Nappo or Josh Spence. But if the Marlins were to go that route, then they should go with the incumbent...
Who will it be: Carter Capps, Dan Jennings and Kevin Slowey
Virtual locks: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal, Garrett Jones, Greg Dobbs, Jeff Baker, Jeff Mathis, Adeiny Hechavarria, Casey McGehee
Who is still in play: Donovan Solano, Ed Lucas, Derek Dietrich, Ty Wigginton
At the end of the day, there is little to no reason to believe Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal, Garrett Jones, Greg Dobbs, Jeff Baker, Jeff Mathis, Adeiny Hechavarria and Casey McGehee won't be on the Opening Day roster.
For starters, the Marlins went on a "spending spree"—at least by Marlins standards—when they signed Saltalamacchia ($21 million for three years), Furcal ($3 million for one year), Jones ($7.75 million for two years), Baker ($3.7 million for two years) and McGehee ($1.1 million for one year) to major league contracts.
Catcher Jeff Mathis is nearly indispensable because of how he handled the Marlins young pitching staff last season. The Marlins were 35-35 when Mathis started and 27-65 when someone else started at catcher. Meanwhile, the Marlins view shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria as a future Gold Glove Award winner even though defensive metrics says otherwise, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
And no matter what happens, there's almost no way Greg Dobbs won't be on the team, at least not over owner Jeffrey Loria's dead body. Loria negotiated Dobbs' $1.7 million extension for this season unbeknownst to his top baseball officials, a source told the Sun-Sentinel.
Aside from injury, the only potential roadblocks are Furcal's recovery after missing all of 2013 because of Tommy John surgery, as well his playing a new position at second base, and McGehee's ability to adjust back to major-league pitching after spending all of last season in Japan.
With all those spots locked up, the only job available is another utility player with a right-handed bat coming off the bench.
Derek Dietrich is under consideration only if he has an impressive spring and takes the second base job from Furcal or the third base job from McGehee.
That leaves Donovan Solano, Ed Lucas and Ty Wigginton.
Wigginton would have to impress as well because if the Marlins keep him, they will have to purchase his contract since he joined the organization on a minor league deal.
If it's between Lucas and Solano, the guy who was second on the team with a 1.5 Wins Above Replacement last season and can play all four infield positions, as well as left field, will win the job. That man happens to be...
Who will it be: Ed Lucas
Virtual locks: Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich
Who is still in play: Brian Bogusevic, Marcell Ozuna, Jake Marisnick, Kyle Jensen, Brent Keys, Reed Johnson
Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich were the Marlins two best offensive players last season, so they will be on the 25-man roster.
As for who joins them, there's two separate competitions.
The main battle is between Marcell Ozuna and Jake Marisnick for the center field job while the undercard pits Brian Bogusevic, Kyle Jensen, Brent Keys and Reed Johnson.
The only way Johnson stays if he impresses the Marlins brass because, like Wigginton, he signed a minor league deal.
Keys is a long shot to make the team. However, if Furcal goes down and the Marlins need a leadoff hitter, Keys could be the guy. Keys won the Florida State League batting title with a .346 average in 95 games with advanced Single-A Jupiter last year. In 2012, he won the South Atlantic League batting crown with a .335 average for Single-A Greensboro.
Jensen is probably the only guy in the Marlins organization who can match Stanton's home run swing. The 25-year-old has smashed 97 home runs in the last four seasons in the minor leagues, including at least 18 in each of those campaigns. However, Jensen has issues with making contact as he's hit a combined .236 in Double-A and Triple-A in 972 at-bats.
Unlike Johnson, Bogusevic is a left-handed hitter. Unlike Jensen and Keys, Bogusevic has major league experience. And unlike all three, he's on the 40-man roster. The only way Bogusevic doesn't make the team is if he struggles and Dietrich wins the second base job, pushing Furcal's switch-hitting bat to the bench.
As for the main event between Ozuna and Marisnick, Ozuna has proved to be more ready to hit major league pitching than Marisnick.
Ozuna finished 2013 with a .265/.303/.389 slash line with three home runs and 32 RBI in 70 games while primarily batting fourth or fifth in a depleted lineup. Marisnick produced worse numbers while primarily batting seventh.
ESPN.com's Keith Law stated Marisnick could probably use at least three months in Triple-A just to work on his ability to recognize breaking balls. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro feels the same way because it would be best for Marisnick to refine his game whether it takes a few months or the entire year.
Otherwise, if the team rushes Marisnick, Law feels he might never fulfill his potential because he was forced to sink or swim against major-league arms.
So if it isn't apparent by now, the two outfielders to join Stanton and Yelich are...
Who will it be: Brian Bogusevic, Marcell Ozuna