Inbox: What is Marlins' biggest offseason need?
Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers fans' questions
Is trading Jose Fernandez the only way the Marlins can replenish their farm system as lots of Draft picks haven't worked out, Giancarlo Stanton notwithstanding?
Let's cut to the chase, and tackle the Fernandez question right away. To your point about the farm system, yes, Fernandez would return a large haul that could bolster the system. But the Marlins aren't necessarily looking for a "prospects deal" in any potential Fernandez package. The club anticipates competing in 2016, which makes finding a match difficult because Miami is seeking at least two, and possibly three starting pitchers who are big league-ready in return.
To the larger picture, will the Marlins trade Fernandez? Many have speculated they will, but the reality is the organization wants to retain its 23-year-old ace and add a starter or two around him.
But the Marlins are keeping the window open, and you can't blame them. If a club is willing to overpay and present a package so overwhelming they couldn't pass it up, then a trade is possible. Such a trade also appears incredibly unlikely because the inquiring team would be parting with core players off its big league roster.
Last week, I spoke with president David Samson, who summed up Fernandez rumors this way: "There is no rift with Jose. He wasn't available for trade, but people still came to us, and we were OK with that, because you never know, someone may have an idea that you didn't think of. But it just didn't happen. I don't see it happening."
When will the walls be brought in and what exact adjustments can we expect?
Construction at Marlins Park is expected in January and would need to be ready by Opening Day. Currently, the dimensions are 344 feet down the left-field line. From there, it extends to 386 feet in left-center to 418 feet in straightaway center. In right field, it's 335 feet down the line and 392 feet in right-center.
The walls now are 11 1/2 feet to 13 feet.
The revisions will most affect the gaps, with the fences being moved in and lowered from the base of the home run sculpture to the corner of the right-field bullpen. Look for center field to be moved in to around 407 feet. The walls will be lowered in some areas to 5 1/2 feet, and be as high as 11 1/2 feet.
What's more likely: Trading Marcell Ozuna for a starting pitcher and signing a center fielder, or keeping Ozuna and signing a starting pitcher?
This is probably the toughest question to answer because the Marlins don't have a lot of trade pieces, which makes Ozuna a possibility. Ideally, the club would like to sign a pitcher for about $11 million or less in 2016. My guess is they are working on a free-agent starter -- whether it is someone like Ian Kennedy or Doug Fister is unclear.
What is the Marlins' greatest need: Corner infielder? Catcher? Pitching depth? All of the above?
Pitching depth, because the club doesn't have needs at corner infield or catcher. Martin Prado and Justin Bour are set to play third and first base, respectively, and J.T. Realmuto is one of the promising young catchers in the game.
Starting pitching has received much of the offseason focus, but the club also is open to acquiring a back-end reliever, perhaps a closer candidate.
Will Don Mattingly let Dee Gordon steal bases?
The green light wasn't so much an issue for Gordon in 2014 when he played for Mattingly in Los Angeles. Gordon paced the Majors with 64 steals that year, and he followed that up, of course, with an MLB-most 58 steals in '15.
How many bases Gordon steals this year may be tied into Stanton. When Stanton is in the lineup, you don't want to run yourself out of innings.
Last year, Gordon stole 32 bases in 74 games after Stanton broke his left hamate bone. When Stanton was in the lineup, Gordon swiped 26 bags in 71 games. Remember, Gordon missed a couple of weeks in July due to a dislocated left thumb.