The 2019 season for the Miami Marlins went about how most baseball fans expected. The Marlins “earned” the third overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft thanks to a 57-105 record. There wasn’t much for Miami to cheer for either, as all their fan favorites have been traded elsewhere. Unfortunately for Miami, there was little to show for them in 2019. Unsurprisingly, they managed to finish dead last in attendance for the second straight year by averaging 10,016 fans per game. In perspective, that is ~4,700 less fans per game than the second worst team (Tampa Bay at 14,734/game). This begs the question, what are people in Florida doing for entertainment besides bath salts and obscure crimes? Here is a look at their 2019 season in review.
The Pitching Staff:
Despite it looking like it would be their only glimmer of hope in 2019, the Marlins pitching staff was a roller-coaster ride. The starting staff as a whole had a rocky road but saw some positives in a healthy Caleb Smith, a full season of Sandy Alcantara, and roughly a half of a season of Jordan Yamamoto, Pablo Lopez, and Elieser Hernandez. If they can take another step forward next year, watch out. This could be a second iteration of the old Beckett, Burnett, Willis, Penny and Pavano days.
Heading into the season, the bullpen was showing some promise with young, controllable arms. Unfortunately, they didn’t perform well or got traded. Tayron Guerrero and his 100-mph fastball finished with a 6.26 ERA, only 43 strikeouts in 46 IP, and a horrific 7.0 BB/9. The lone bright spots were 27-year-old Austin Brice (3.43 ERA in 44.2 IP) and 26-year-old Jarlin Garcia (3.02 ERA in 50.2 IP). This is an area that will need to be addressed heading into the offseason.
Woof. Expectations were low after moving some of the best hitters in the game, but this one was especially rough. The positives? Brian Anderson had an OK sophomore season finishing with an .811 OPS and increased power. However, he still doesn’t have a permanent position after spending 67 games at third base and 55 in the outfield … and he wasn’t particularly good at either position. In the same ilk, 28-year-old Garrett Cooper had a decent season at the plate by putting up a .791 OPS and some power in his first full season. He spent 73 games at first base and 31 games in right field. Additionally, Jorge Alfaro showed some promise and minor league signing Harold Ramirez came out of nowhere with a decent season.
Unfortunately, they also had Curtis Granderson make 138 starts, Lewis Brinson look atrocious (.457 OPS in 75 games), and players like Neil Walker (115 games) and Martin Prado (104 games) take playing time away from players that are actually a part of their future.
The Trade Deadline:
As expected, the Marlins traded Sergio Romo before the deadline. The Marlins sent Romo to Minnesota with pitching prospect Chris Vallimont (fifth round pick in 2018) and a player to be named later for a big power hitting first base prospect in Lewin Diaz. With their lack of position player depth in the minors, dealing from a surplus of arms was seemingly a good move going forward.
The second deal the Marlins made was a shock. The Marlins traded pitching prospect Zac Gallen to the Arizona Diamondbacks for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm. Gallen had been called up a month prior to the trade and was looking like a front-line starter with his 2.72 ERA and 43 K SO in 36.1 IP. On the flip side, Chisholm struggled in AA for the Diamondbacks with worrisome strikeout numbers (123 K in 314 at-bats). This is one that could be a giant misstep when it comes to minor league talent evaluation.
The final move at the deadline was an unexpected trade, but it made sense for the pitching-rich Marlins. The Marlins traded starting pitcher Trevor Richards and relief pitcher Nick Anderson to the Rays for “opener” Ryne Stanek and outfield prospect Jesus Sanchez. Sanchez is close to MLB-ready and was rated as the Rays’ fourth best prospect at the time. While Nick Anderson had crazy strikeout numbers (14.2 K/9), the Marlins were likely wary of holding onto another high-strikeout arm too long. I.e., Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider, David Phelps, etc.
The Marlins didn’t start the year with much in terms of “Top 100” talent, but ended the year with 6 players in the MLB Top 100 Prospects. This was thanks to the additions of Jesus Sanchez and Jazz Chisholm in trades, their 2019 top draft pick JJ Bleday, and the development of a couple of their own players. Once you add in Lewin Diaz, their international signings, and further development of their draft picks, the Marlins could see some fruits of their labor in late 2020. Unless they trade from their starting pitchers this offseason, they don’t have any other avenue to add to the farm system until the 2020 Draft.
The Offseason Ahead:
“What should happen” and “what will happen” are two completely different things. The Marlins SHOULD try and add some bats to a desolate lineup and fortify the bullpen. They traded every legitimate bat away the past few seasons and are left with Brian Anderson as their best hitter. Adding the Neil Walkers in free agency doesn’t do much to help anything
The sun rises in the east, cold pizza tastes amazing and the Marlins WILL cut costs at every corner. These are the facts of life. Derek Jeter is running the show and is financially incentivized to cut payroll and meet certain budget thresholds. What does this mean for the Marlins? The safe bet is Jose Urena will be traded as he will be hitting his second year of arbitration. The Marlins have enough “in-house” options to supplant him and his ~$4M projected salary is too rich for the Marlins. Another name to watch is Adam Conley. He is coming off a terrible 2019 and a 2020 salary in the range of ~$1.5M if tendered.
Look for the Marlins to add some veteran free agents closer to spring training on low-cost, one-year deals. Think of names like Matt Wieters, Mitch Moreland, Adeiny Hechavarria, Adam Jones, Anthony Swarzak, or maybe one more round with Sergio Romo. While it isn’t anything flashy, look for them to make some moves next offseason. The ill-fated Wei-Yin Chen contract will come off the books and they can assess where they are at.
Author Twitter: @TheRealKraken24
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