Inbox: Who are Marlins targeting on the market?

December 16th, 2019

Are the Marlins still in on Yasiel Puig? Corey Dickerson? Or anybody else?
-- @MichaelDiaz0310 on Twitter

As I reported on Thursday, yes. Puig is still very much a possibility to sign with the Marlins. But in terms of free agents that the Marlins have actively been engaged in talks with, Puig is down the list. Perhaps that will change. Like many free agents, Puig is first seeing if he can get at least a two-year deal. Some of the other free agents the Marlins are speaking to are more open to one-year contracts. Dickerson and Kole Calhoun are definite possibilities. The Marlins were hopeful to get something done at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, but Dickerson and Calhoun weren't ready to sign just yet.

Any potential dark horses for the Marlins to sign or trade for?
-- @braedont19 on Twitter

I don't really see any. The names that have been most regularly linked to the Marlins are indeed the primary targets. So, we're talking Dickerson, Calhoun, Puig and Avisaíl García, who may be more in play for Miami now that the Rays have come to terms with Japanese outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. There was a possibility earlier in the offseason that the Marlins would change direction and go all in on Nicholas Castellanos, who will command a lucrative multi-year deal, but that doesn't appear to be realistic. Castellanos would have been the unexpected signing, but barring a dramatic change of mind, he doesn't look like a serious option.

Is Garrett Cooper really not going to be a starter?
-- @glh205 on Twitter

When the Marlins claimed first baseman Jesús Aguilar off waivers on Dec. 2, the non-tender deadline, they pretty much made it clear that the 2018 All-Star would be their first baseman. Brian Anderson appears headed to right field because Jonathan Villar projects to play third base. That leaves Cooper's status as a starter less certain. Manager Don Mattingly at the Winter Meetings stated that it is hard for the organization to fully count on Cooper due to his injury history. He played in 107 games last year, and 14 the year before. That said, there's a long way to go before Opening Day against the Phillies on March 26 at Marlins Park. We'll see how everyone performs in Spring Training and how the Opening Day roster is put together. But on paper, at this point, Aguilar is the expected first baseman.

The Marlins stated they were going to be buyers at the Winter Meetings, but didn't buy much. Is there a full explanation behind that?
-- @King_Grxzzly on Twitter

I think we need to add some context. Being "buyers," in the case of the Marlins this offseason, that doesn't mean they intend to spend at the top of the free-agent market. They are looking to add proven big leaguers on short-term contracts, because they don't want to block some of their close to big league-ready prospects. That's a change from the past two seasons, when they traded away their core players. Secondly, the Marlins were very aggressive at the Winter Meetings trying to sign at least one of the free-agent outfielders previously mentioned -- Calhoun, Dickerson, Puig and others. But those free agents informed the Marlins they weren't quite ready to sign. By Christmas we could see at least one significant signing. At least that's the hope, to prevent dragging things out into January.

Is Sterling Sharp slated for a bullpen spot or the rotation?
-- @JuanVas83300033 on Twitter

The Marlins selected Sharp, a right-handed pitcher, from the Nationals' system in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. The 24-year-old attended Drury University, the same school that produced former Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards. Sharp has started in 69 of the 75 Minor League games he's appeared in since he was a 26th round Draft pick in 2016. Miami selected the right-hander with the intention of using him as a reliever. In the bullpen, he could be a multi-innings candidate.