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Marlins News

Offseason checklist: Marlins' needs and moves

January 9, 2020

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.

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 is keeping track.


Impact bats
In an era where clubs are reaching record-setting home run 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 homers. Miami has addressed the offense by acquiring Jonathan Villar and Jesús Aguilar, and the organization also has finalized a two-year deal with Corey Dickerson.

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. A reunion with Sergio Romo, who closed for Miami in the first half of 2019, won't be happening, as the veteran agreed to return to Minnesota, the club the Marlins dealt him to at the Trade Deadline. Miami did sign strike-throwing right-hander Yimi García after he was non-tendered by the Dodgers. He should be an option in the late innings.

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. Miami finalized a one-year deal with veteran Francisco Cervelli, who also has a history of concussions.


Jan. 9: Marlins make veteran Cervelli signing official
The organization solidified its catching position by officially announcing the free-agent signing of Francisco Cervelli to a one-year contract. The two sides reached agreement before Christmas, pending completion of a physical, and Cervelli, 33, had been out of the country, but he is now ready to join Miami’s pitchers and catchers when they report to Spring Training on Feb. 12 in Jupiter, Fla. In a corresponding move to create 40-man roster space for Cervelli, the Marlins designated for assignment outfielder Austin Dean. The addition of Cervelli gives the Marlins a proven veteran to back up Jorge Alfaro, who is expected to get most of the work behind the plate.

Jan. 7: Marlins finalize 2-year deal with Dickerson
Miami officially announced the signing of Corey Dickerson, appearing to fulfill their need for a starting left fielder. To make room on the 40-man roster for Dickerson, the Marlins designated for assignment right-handed reliever Austin Brice. Dickerson split time last season with the Pirates and Phillies, posting a slash line of .304/.341/.565 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs in 78 games. He was placed on the 60-day injured list with a fractured left foot. He also missed time in the first half with a right shoulder strain, but he's expected to be fully healthy for Spring Training.

Dec. 20: García, Marlins finalize one-year deal
Miami officially announced the signing of right-hander Yimi García, whom the Dodgers non-tendered on Dec. 2. A five-year veteran, García posted a 3.61 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 64 outings in 2019. He will slot into a late-inning role for a bullpen that recorded -2.2 WAR last season, worst in the Majors per FanGraphs.

Dec. 18: Marlins announce first batch of NRIs
Veteran outfielder Matt Kemp and eight others signed Minor League contracts with invitations to Spring Training. The list also includes catchers Ryan Lavarnway, Santiago Chávez, B.J. López and Brian Navarreto, infielders Gosuke Katoh and Christian Lopes and right-handers Aaron Northcraft and Josh A. Smith. Kemp, the 2018 MLB Players Choice Award winner for National League Comeback Player, appeared in only 20 games in 2019, and he will compete for an outfield spot in '20. The quartet of backstops provides much-needed depth.

Dec. 12: Marlins select Sharp, Leon in Rule 5 Draft
Miami acquired right-hander Sterling Sharp, who ranked No. 13 in Washington's system per MLB Pipeline, with the third pick of the MLB phase. The 24-year-old went 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 12 starts across three Minor League levels, and then he impressed in the Arizona Fall League by compiling a 1.50 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. Miami intends to use Sharp out of the bullpen. The Marlins also drafted catcher Julian Leon from the Angels' organization in the Triple-A phase.

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 '18, 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
With the club 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 Chen for assignment and added six prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft: right-handers Humberto Mejia, Sánchez, Nick Neidert and Cabrera, shortstop Jazz Chisholm and first baseman Lewin Diaz.

Nov. 1: Riddle, Steckenrider, Anderson, Wallach activated from 60-day injured list
Riddle, Drew Steckenrider, Brian Anderson and Wallach missed the final month of the regular season, and in some cases, substantially more time was missed. By being activated from the 60-day IL, the four rejoined the Marlins’ 40-man roster.

Nov. 1: Castro becomes free agent
After the Marlins declined Starlin 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: Granderson, Prado, Walker become free agents
With their 2019 contracts expired, veterans Curtis Granderson, Martín Prado and Neil Walker became free agents, a formality.

Oct. 23: Puello outrighted to Triple-A
César 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: Fernández returned to Rockies
Julian Fernández 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: Holaday elects free agency
After starting off the year at Triple-A, Bryan 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: Noesi, Heineman outrighted to Triple-A; Smith claimed off waivers by Reds
Miami’s first offseason transactions involved a series of minor moves. Tyler Heineman appeared in five games and had 11 at-bats, including a home run, in limited action as a September callup. Righty Hector Noesi was one of 10 starters used in 2019, making four starts along with eight relief appearances. Josh D. 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 since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.