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Jeter seeking 'responsible' approach to roster

Marlins CEO hosts club's annual Thanksgiving dinner giveaway
@JoeFrisaro
November 25, 2019

MIAMI -- The Marlins are open to making significant upgrades to their big league roster. But CEO Derek Jeter repeated on Monday night that any additions must fit into the long-term picture of where the club is headed. “If a guy fits within our plan, and what we’re trying to

MIAMI -- The Marlins are open to making significant upgrades to their big league roster. But CEO Derek Jeter repeated on Monday night that any additions must fit into the long-term picture of where the club is headed.

“If a guy fits within our plan, and what we’re trying to do, we’ll go get him or we’ll make an attempt to get him,” Jeter said during the organization’s annual Thanksgiving turkey distribution at Marlins Park.

Entering his third year as Marlins CEO, Jeter said the Marlins are faced with a challenge of identifying players who can help the big league roster immediately while making sure they aren’t blocking prospects who are close to being ready.

“We must be responsible, I think is the best way to put it,” Jeter said. “This is going to be a challenging year for us, in terms of, we’re going to have to make sure that when we’re filling gaps, we’re not blocking the young prospects that we have.”

Strengthening the farm system was the top priority for the new ownership group that took over after the 2017 season.

The Marlins now have one of the top five farm systems in the game, with six players on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 list. Miami is tied with the Rays and Padres for the most top 100 prospects of any club.

“We have a lot of [prospects] coming, and they’re going to be here soon,” Jeter said. “So we want to make sure they have that opportunity. But we have to stick with the plan. Our plan is to build the system the right way. We’ve made a lot of progress in two years.”

Monday marked the 10th annual Miami Marlins Home Plate Meals Thanksgiving Distribution, sponsored by Tito’s Homemade Vodka.

Jeter, along with Marlins players Lewis Brinson, Isan Díaz and Miguel Rojas, assisted in handing out turkey dinners to 1,000 local families. Marlins alumni Charles Johnson and Alex Gonzalez also attended the event on the West Plaza.

“I’ve said it since Day 1, our responsibility is giving back to this community,” Jeter said. “We want this community to feel as though this is their team. This is their team. It’s our duty to make sure that we give back, especially during the holiday season, that’s when it means the most.”

The Marlins' building process has required plenty of patience, reflected by back-to-back last-place finishes. Miami went 57-105 in 2019, and there is more urgency to show improvement in ’20.

“We have our plan, and we’re sticking to our plan,” Jeter said. “Patience, I don’t have much. But it’s our job to get better and improve, year in and year out.”

The long-term goal remains to build a sustainable winner, which requires a deep farm system.

“I’d like to think that our organization knows what we have in the Minor League system,” Jeter said. “Although our fans may not know their names now, it’s like that for every player when they come up. Every player when they come up to the Major Leagues is an unknown.”

From a personal standpoint, 2020 is a big year for Jeter, because the former captain of the Yankees is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.

“I try not to think about it,” Jeter said. “I try not to talk about it. I don’t want to jinx any opportunities that I may have. But, like I’ve said, I’ve played my last game. So there’s really not much else I can do.

“I was fortunate to have a very long career, and I’ve played on some successful teams. My career is over with now, and I’m focused on what we’re doing here in Miami. But every player that plays the game, I mean, that’s the ultimate honor.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.