After the blockbuster trade, my guess is Ricky Nolasco is on the block, too. How do the Marlins plan to win with a pitching staff that is pretty much inexperienced?
-- Gary R.
Entering the final year of his contract, Nolasco's name likely will surface in trade rumors. You probably will hear more rumblings next week at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., where speculation will be flying around on just about any big name.
All we can go by is what we know right now. The Marlins have indicated that Nolasco will be in their rotation on Opening Day. Whether that changes will depend on what possible deals could be out there.
Nolasco is signed for $11.5 million in 2013, making him the highest-paid player on the team. And he will be a free agent in '14.
As for the rotation, there are plenty of promising arms. Jacob Turner could be a future star, and Nathan Eovaldi has terrific pure stuff. Both showed promise in September.
Henderson Alvarez, acquired in the trade with Toronto, is very talented.
You raised a very good point regarding experience. There is a risk in going with so many untested pitchers, because quite frankly, they don't always hold up over 162 games. Plus, the stressful innings in the big leagues are completely different than the Minor Leagues.
It's great to have the talent, but it's also nice to have those veterans who have been there and understand what it is like to reach 200 innings and make 30-plus starts.
Nolasco provides that.
As a season-ticket holder since 1993, I'd like to know what the Marlins' master plan is now?
-- Robert B., Southwest Ranches, Fla.
Pretty much everything right now with the organization is new, and the experience level is a lot younger.
It appears the team is looking to follow the model of the Giants, who are winning primarily around pitching and timely hitting. Like AT&T Park in San Francisco, Marlins Park is a tough place to hit homers. So the club is looking to pitch, play defense, add speed and hope to get enough timely hitting.
New manager Mike Redmond is expected to bring renewed energy for a youthful club.
Basically, the club felt the plan it had in place last year fell apart, so it went in a completely different direction.
Will the Marlins increase spending to the $80-million range, if not in 2013 but for '14 or '15?
-- Hunter W., Sacramento, Calif.
Boasting a payroll in the $100-million range in 2012, coupled with moving into a new ballpark, many believed the Marlins would be at least a mid-to-upper-range payroll club on an annual basis.
The major scale back has raised questions about the drop in payroll. The team always said it would match payroll to revenue. Operating a retractable-roof ballpark has had its challenges.
Perhaps there were some cost overruns the Marlins didn't publicly talk about. That's a guess, because the club always stated that the ballpark was built on time and on budget.
Also, attendance fell shy of expectations in 2012. Still, it was 2.2 million, and the per-game average was a respectable 27,000 in a 93-loss season.
Now, while the payroll projected to be down in 2013, it may only be a one-year low point, with the intent of making a big splash in '14.
Will the Marlins consider changing their policy of not giving no-trade clauses to free agents? How can the front office expect to improve the roster if the players it signs to long-term contracts can't be assured of playing more than one year in Miami?
-- Rodrigo L., Santiago, Chile
A great question, and a definite concern for the next time the team is in the market for players seeking multiyear deals.
Unless owner Jeffrey Loria is open to changing the policy, it doesn't look like that will occur. The other day, after the Marlins announced their 12-player trade with Toronto, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told the media that he wouldn't recommend giving no-trade clauses.
The Marlins aren't the only team not willing to give them. But right now, trading Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle after one season draws more skepticism from potential free agents.
There are pros and cons to having no-trade clauses. The plus is the organization is not locked into a contract over a certain number of years. So a team, ideally, would have payroll flexibility. The downside, as seen by the recent big trade is, it likely will deter players from wanting to sign a long-term deal.
Some will argue, if the money is right, a player will sign, with or without a no-trade clause.
For now, it seems the Marlins are prepared to retain their current policy.
With an inexperienced pitching staff and a less-than-happy Giancarlo Stanton, how can Miami attract free agents?
-- Yvonne R., New York
Convincing free agents to sign will definitely be a challenge. Beinfest said as much recently.
"I think it will be a factor," Beinfest said of future signings. "I don't think that we're happy about this, at all. I understand that there may be some disdain in the marketplace.
"I think it will be a factor. We won't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents, or we show over a sustained period of time that we operate in a certain manner. It's definitely not great for the club, and we're going to have to deal with it."
As for Stanton, the 23-year-old clearly wasn't happy by the big trade. But he isn't eligible for arbitration until after 2014 and free agency until '16.