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Breaking down Miami's possible FA targets

@JoeFrisaro
November 6, 2019

MIAMI -- Look for the Marlins to be active in free agency. Maybe not to the extent of the big spenders, but the organization is prepared to do some shopping. Position players are at the top of the priority list. The Marlins scored just 615 runs -- second fewest in

MIAMI -- Look for the Marlins to be active in free agency.

Maybe not to the extent of the big spenders, but the organization is prepared to do some shopping. Position players are at the top of the priority list.

The Marlins scored just 615 runs -- second fewest in the Majors -- in 2019. By contrast, the Yankees (943) and Twins (939) compiled the most. Seven of the top eight teams in runs reached the postseason, including the World Series-champion Nationals (873), who ranked sixth.

Keep in mind the Marlins' new bench coach will be James Rowson, who was the Twins' hitting coach. Rowson also will be implementing a hitting strategy that will be used at both the Major and Minor league levels.

When the Marlins head into the GM Meetings next week in Scottsdale, Ariz., they will be exploring the free-agent market for hitters.

MLB.com breaks down some realistic and long shot free-agent possibilities:

Realistic: OF Nicholas Castellanos
If the Marlins are looking to make a big splash, Castellanos would do the trick. The 27-year-old checks off many boxes for Miami. First, he’s a local, having played his high school ball at Archbishop McCarthy in Southwest Ranches, Fla. Second, Castellanos is a legitimate middle-of-the-lineup threat, belting 27 home runs while driving in 73 for the Tigers and Cubs in 2019, with a 121 wRC+.

The negative is Castellanos' defense, which actually improved. Even though he had a minus-9 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in 2019, it’s was minus-19 in '18. With a 26-man roster set for '20, the Marlins could replace Castellanos defensively. Still, the feeling is Castellanos could be at least average in right field.

But will the Marlins be open to signing him for about $20 million a season?

Long shot: OF Marcell Ozuna
The fact the Cardinals placed a qualifying offer on Ozuna makes it unlikely the Marlins will be in the mix for the power-hitting left fielder. Ozuna, of course, broke into the Majors with the Marlins and was a two-time All-Star in Miami. But his salary demands, coupled with the fact the cost to acquire him would mean parting with a high pick in the 2020 Draft, lessens the chances of a reunion.

Realistic: OF Yasiel Puig
Both popular and polarizing, Puig is a definite possibility to wind up in Miami. Signing a high-profile Cuban player would certainly be popular with the fan base. Plus, Puig has already played for manager Don Mattingly in Los Angeles. Puig made $9.7 million in 2019, and one or two years with an average of $10 million could be about right for the veteran outfielder, who collected 24 homers and 84 RBIs with the Reds and Indians this season.

Long shot: SS Didi Gregorius
Gregorius is famously known for being the shortstop who replaced current Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter on the Yankees. Could Gregorius be a possibility to join the Marlins, with Jeter having major say on the call?

A fit doesn’t appear likely, even with the Yankees not extending the $17.8 million qualifying offer.

In September, the Marlins signed Miguel Rojas to a two-year extension for $10.25 million. That decision was made with Miami knowing Gregorius was a potential free agent. Rojas is the logical fit at shortstop, and even as productive as Gregorius has been in New York, Miami may allocate its resources elsewhere.

Realistic: OF Avisaíl García
Another power-hitting outfield option is García, who knocked 20 home runs and drove in 72 runs, with a wRC+ of 111. The Marlins saw the raw power first hand, when García crushed a home run that Statcast projected at 471 feet off Caleb Smith at Marlins Park.

The 28-year-old made $3.5 million this season for Tampa Bay. Of all the options, he would be the most cost-effective, and he’d get playing time.

Long shot: 1B José Abreu
The same reason the Marlins don't figure to be in the running for Ozuna applies to Abreu. The White Sox placed a qualifying offer on the 32-year-old Cuban first baseman, who made $16 million in 2019. Along with a salary that likely would be about $20 million annually comes the attachment of a high Draft pick. So even though Abreu would address first base and be a middle-of-the-order threat, his chances of signing with Miami are remote.

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