Inbox: What will Marlins do about Chen? 

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Miami fans

November 15th, 2019

Is releasing Wei-Yin Chen a top priority? I don’t see how keeping him makes any sense. Losing a top prospect because of his spot on the roster would be unacceptable.
-- @EduardoVinas3

You bring up one of the most important questions the Marlins' front office is dealing with this offseason: What should they do about ? The 34-year-old’s salary for 2020 is $22 million, after he made $20 million in '19. There is a conditional $16 million option for '21, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, if he pitches 180 innings, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. There’s some other language that would trigger the conditional option, including if he logs 360 innings in 2019-20. Chen threw 68 1/3 innings in '19, so he won’t come close. So, the $22 million for '20 is the remainder of the five-year, $80 million contract the left-hander signed in '16.

I can’t say with complete certainty, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins part ways with Chen at some point before Opening Day. I also think they may try to package him in a trade, most likely with a club also looking to unload an unwanted contract.

Even with the rosters expanding to 26 in 2020, I don’t see a role for Chen, who had a 6.59 ERA in 68 1/3 innings this year.

Through South Korean media, I heard some buzz about pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim of the KBO. It said the Marlins are among the teams interested in Kim. Is there a chance Miami gets him?
-- @bret4best

A left-handed starter, Kim is a very interesting free agent to keep an eye on, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins indeed are in on him. The 31-year-old has drawn interest from at least half-dozen MLB clubs. According to Baseball Reference, Kim pitched to a 17-6 record and a 2.51 ERA in 190 1/3 innings with the KBO league last season. There is a posting system to sign Kim.

If you were the general manager, what free agents would you go after this winter? Could be short-term or for the long haul.
-- @braedont19

If I had to put on my GM hat, my No. 1 target would be Nicholas Castellanos.

A South Florida native, Castellanos will turn 28 in March, and he is a proven middle-of-the-order threat. Obviously there are defensive questions, but that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me. I could see him anchoring right or left field. The Marlins went with subpar corner outfielders defensively in 2019. But Castellanos would be a big get for Miami, because he would fit into the short- and long-term plans.

As for trades, when it comes to moving any top prospects, my answer would be a strong “No!”

If the Marlins plan to upgrade power at first base, what becomes of Garrett Cooper?
-- @DannyMuggeo

With José Abreu accepting the qualifying offer to stay with the White Sox, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins make a strong push for left-handed-hitting Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak, a free agent who doesn't have a qualifying offer attached to him.

What happens then with ? He can play first or corner outfield. But mainly, the 28-year-old has to stay on the field. Cooper played in just 107 games last season, missing time early with a left calf strain and a bruised left hand. And he sat out the final few weeks in September with a left knee injury. Durability factors into decisions.

Who makes it as a top prospect, and who do you see as September call-ups?
-- @damanbryan99

Of the prospects “most ready,” I think right-hander Nick Neidert will be the first pitching prospect to get called up to the big leagues. The club’s No. 11 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Neidert missed time with a right knee injury in 2019, but he rebounded nicely in the Arizona Fall League, impressing on a Salt River Rafters squad that won the championship. If Neidert doesn’t win a rotation spot in Spring Training, he will go to Triple-A Wichita. I do see Neidert getting the call up to the big leagues before right-handers Sixto Sánchez (No. 1 prospect) and Edward Cabrera (No. 6), who have yet to pitch as high as Triple-A.

Outfielder Monte Harrison (No. 5), in my opinion, will be the first position player to be promoted to the big leagues. By September, you may also start seeing the likes of left-handers Braxton Garrett (No. 7) and/or Trevor Rogers (No. 8).