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Offseason checklist: Marlins' needs and moves

@JoeFrisaro
December 3, 2019

MIAMI -- The Marlins spent the past two offseasons parting with some of their top players. Expect the organization to have another busy Hot Stove season this year, but this time with the priorities changed. No longer are the Marlins looking to subtract top talent -- they’re focused on adding

MIAMI -- The Marlins spent the past two offseasons parting with some of their top players. Expect the organization to have another busy Hot Stove season this year, but this time with the priorities changed.

No longer are the Marlins looking to subtract top talent -- they’re focused on adding some proven veterans to mix in with their core of developing younger players.

Five questions the Marlins must address

Here’s a look at the Marlins' biggest needs entering 2020, and a review of the moves they have already made. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates, as MLB.com is keeping track.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Impact bats
In an era where clubs are reaching record-setting home runs numbers, the Marlins ranked last in the Majors in hitting the long ball, with 146. The club also finished second to last in runs (615). New bench coach James Rowson joins manager Don Mattingly’s staff after serving as hitting coach for the Twins, who set a single-season MLB mark with 307 home runs.

Bullpen
The strength of the organization is young starting pitching, led by Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Pablo López. And knocking on the door are hard-throwing prospects like Sixto Sánchez and Edward Cabrera. To back up their hard-throwing young arms, the Marlins will look to bolster a shaky bullpen. Upgrading the 'pen with experienced relievers is next to finding impact bats on their offseason shopping list. Don't be surprised if Sergio Romo, who was with Miami in the first half in 2019, once again is signed to either close or set up.

Catching depth
Finding a backup, or perhaps even a complement, for Jorge Alfaro is expected to be addressed in the Hot Stove season. Alfaro and Chad Wallach, who missed most of the season due to a concussion, are the only two catchers on the 40-man roster. Even though Alfaro is considered their everyday catcher, he had his struggles defensively, and he has a high strikeout rate.

MOVES MADE

Dec. 2: Marlins claim Aguilar off waivers, deal for Villar
The Marlins took their first big step in addressing their biggest needs, by landing infielder Jonathan Villar and slugging first baseman Jesús Aguilar. To acquire Villar, who stole 40 bases and scored 111 runs in 2019, Miami traded left-handed pitching prospect Easton Lucas to Baltimore. Aguilar, who was an All-Star with the Brewers in 2018, was claimed off waivers from the Rays.

Additionally, the Marlins also tendered contracts to right-hander José Ureña and left-hander Adam Conley. JT Riddle was non-tendered and designated for assignment along with right-hander Tayron Guerrero.

Ureña, in his second year of arbitration eligibility, will compete for a roster spot, either as a starter or a reliever. Conley is a lefty option in the bullpen.

Nov. 27: Chen released by Marlins, becomes free agent
Unable to work out a trade scenario for Wei-Yin Chen, the left-hander was released, making him a free agent.

Nov. 20: Marlins DFA Chen, add 6 prospects to 40-man
The Marlins designated left-hander Wei-Yin Chen for assignment and added six prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which is set for Dec. 12 at the Winter Meetings in San Diego: right-handers Humberto Mejia, Sixto Sanchez, Nick Neidert and Edward Cabrera, shortstop Jazz Chisholm and first baseman Lewin Diaz.

Nov. 1: SS JT Riddle, RHP Drew Steckenrider, 3B Brian Anderson, C Chad Wallach each are activated from the 60-day injured list
The four missed the final month of the regular season, and in some cases substantially more time was missed. By being activated from the 60-day injured list, the four rejoined the Marlins’ 40-man roster.

Nov. 1: INF Starlin Castro becomes free agent
After the Marlins declined Castro’s $16 million club option for 2020, the club picked up the $1 million buyout in the deal. By doing so, Castro became eligible for free agency.

Oct. 31: OF Curtis Granderson, INF Martín Prado, INF Neil Walker become free agents
With their 2019 contracts expired, the three veterans become free agents, a formality.

Oct. 23: OF César Puello outrighted to Triple-A
Puello went on the injured list with a left hip flexor strain on Aug. 5, and he didn’t return. With outfield depth close to reaching the big leagues, the Marlins freed up a 40-man roster spot by outrighting Puello, who elected free agency.

Oct. 19: RHP Julian Fernández returned to the Rockies
Fernandez missed the entire season because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he had setbacks in his throwing programs. Because he has Rule 5 Draft status, the Marlins would have had to keep him on their active roster or injured list. Due to the uncertainty of whether he will be healthy, the right-hander was returned to the Rockies.

Oct. 18: C Bryan Holaday elected free agency
After starting off the year at Triple-A, Holaday became Alfaro’s primary backup when Wallach went on the injured list. The 31-year-old is arbitration-eligible, and the Marlins outrighted him to Triple-A. Holaday instead opted for free agency.

Oct. 16: RHP Hector Noesi outrighted to Triple-A, C Tyler Heineman outrighted to Triple-A and LHP Josh D. Smith claimed off waivers by the Reds
Miami’s first offseason transactions involved a series of minor moves. Heineman appeared in five games and had 11 at-bats, including a home run, in limited action as a September callup. Noesi was one of 10 starters used in 2019, making four starts along with eight relief appearances. Smith, a lefty reliever, was added to the roster in mid-September after time spent with the Indians. He threw just 4 1/3 innings of relief.

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