As the Marlins prepare to open camp on Wednesday, there are still plenty of unanswered questions regarding the rotation, bullpen, trades and which prospects may suddenly be in the picture to make the Opening Day roster.
MLB.com addresses these topics in the latest Marlins inbox.
If the Marlins are in the thick of things come the Trade Deadline, could you see them being buyers or just rolling with what they have in the shortened season?
If the Marlins have a chance to improve their postseason chances by the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline, they absolutely will look to do so. With a deeper farm system, they are better positioned to make trades. Of course, they’d have to weigh the risk vs. the reward for a “rental” because that player would only be with the club for a month or two. Last July at the Trade Deadline, the Marlins made a surprising deal with the D-backs, sending rookie right-hander Zac Gallen to Arizona for shortstop Jazz Chisholm, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami’s No. 3 prospect. Parting with one of their top young pitchers made sense because the Marlins received a top shortstop prospect. Point being, if they trade a higher-end prospect, most likely it wouldn’t be for a rental. It would be to improve this year and for the future.
Will the Marlins carry a couple of extra prospects early in the first month due to the expanded 30-man roster, and who would they be, for example -- Monte Harrison, Jazz Chisholm, Lewin Díaz, Sixto Sánchez or Jesús Sánchez?
I think there is a greater chance to see some of those top prospects getting called up as the season progresses, rather than them making the Opening Day roster. Chisholm, for instance, has not played above Double-A. The chances of him being on the Opening Day roster are less than, say, Harrison. The latter has been to Triple-A, and Harrison was positioned for a late-season callup in 2019, if he didn't undergo right wrist surgery. Chisholm, Díaz, Sixto Sánchez and Jesús Sánchez also were sent down to the Minor Leagues before Spring Training was cut short in mid-March. Harrison and right-hander Nick Neidert both were sent down just prior to rosters being frozen in March. I'd say those two would have a better chance of being on the Opening Day 30-man roster. Outfielder Jesús Sánchez is very close to being ready as well. But he missed time late in 2019 with a hamstring injury and was moved along more slowly in Spring Training, which delayed his development a little bit.
Could fans be in the stands at Marlins Park at some point during the season?
This question is being added because Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez told Miami-based radio personality Andy Slater that he will “consider allowing fans at Marlins Park starting next month.”
Before seriously considering fans at the ballpark, it is important to note that there are still a lot of answers to come from MLB regarding its return to play health protocols. All parties will have to consider what is the safest for fans, players and staff. The possibility of fans at games could be impacted by the growing number of coronavirus cases in Florida this month. On Wednesday, the state surpassed 5,000 new cases in a single day for the first time.
To this point, the Marlins have had one unidentified player and one staff member test positive for COVID-19. The player is asymptomatic and is in self quarantine. He last was at the complex in Jupiter, Fla., in early June.
The first priority is getting camps to open safely and getting ready for the regular season in late July.
Since the season is so short, would the Marlins go with a four-man rotation rather than five?
No, I don’t see that, nor do I think it is wise in terms of the risk you would place on starting pitchers, making them pitch on three days of rest instead of four. If anything, I see more starters being carried on the roster and used for multiple innings in relief. Building up pitchers to go deeper into games is a process. Early on, if you can get five or six innings from a starter, that will be encouraging.
José Ureña? Still considered to start on Opening Day?
When Spring Training was cancelled in mid-March, Ureña was making the case to either be the Opening Day starter or perhaps the No. 2 guy. The right-hander was impressive and solidified himself to pitch at the top of the rotation. Still, my guess is Sandy Alcantara would have been the Opening Day starter a few months ago, and he will enter camp next week again as the front-runner, barring anything unforeseen.
Who gets the first crack at the closer job?
Brandon Kintzler, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, was the likely closer when Spring Training opened in February. He’s an experienced veteran with closer experience. Kintzler is the likely choice again, at least for the start of the season.