MIAMI -- Step one in the Marlins' building process was devoted to strengthening the Minor Leagues by infusing as much young talent as possible into the organization. Through trades alone over the past year-and-a-half, more than 30 players were added to the system.Development and improvement will be two major objectives
MIAMI -- Step one in the Marlins' building process was devoted to strengthening the Minor Leagues by infusing as much young talent as possible into the organization. Through trades alone over the past year-and-a-half, more than 30 players were added to the system.
Development and improvement will be two major objectives for the Marlins in 2019.
After finishing last in the National League East with a 63-98 record, the Marlins have plenty of work to do to improve and trend toward becoming a playoff contender.
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Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter preaches patience, while admitting he doesn't have much of it. Still, what we've seen since the ownership group, headed by Bruce Sherman and Jeter, took over is the franchise sticking firmly to its plan. The Marlins aim to build things the right way.
MLB.com takes a look at what's high on Miami's to-do list before Spring Training begins at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., in mid-February.
1. Resolve Realmuto rumors
What's next for Realmuto has been one of the most talked about Hot Stove storylines in all of baseball. The All-Star catcher made it clear he isn't interested in a contract extension, and Miami has spent the past few months shopping its best player. There was some clarity to his market at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, and at least a half-dozen teams have been in the mix.
The Marlins also have maintained that they have no urgency to deal Realmuto. He has two more seasons left being arbitration-eligible, and he isn't a free agent until 2021.
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2. Arbitration matters
Jan. 11 will be the first important date in the new year. That's the deadline for all teams to exchange salary figures with their arbitration players.
Five Marlins are affected -- Realmuto, right-handers Dan Straily and Jose Urena, left-hander Adam Conley and infielder Miguel Rojas. If contract terms for these players are not agreed upon by the deadline, the Marlins have had a standing policy to resolve the salary issue at an arbitration hearing.
3. Impact lefty bat
Adding at least one power threat, primarily a left-handed hitter, is among the highest offseason priorities. First base and/or corner outfield is the most ideal choices. The need could be filled either through free agency or trades. A left-handed threat is coveted because the Marlins no longer have Justin Bour or Derek Dietrich. Shortstop JT Riddle is the lone left-handed hitter in the lineup. Miami did add one lefty-hitting candidate this offseason, signing Pedro Alvarez to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. But because Alvarez is a non-roster invitee, he isn't guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day lineup.
4. More relief
The Marlins don't have a set closer, and they appear to be fine with that. They have two primary candidates -- right-hander Drew Steckenrider and Conley. Matchups might determine which one closes.
Because Kyle Barraclough was dealt to the Nationals in October, the Marlins lack a more veteran presence in the back end of their 'pen. That's why Miami is in the market for a reliever who has experienced high-leverage situations. The choice doesn't have to necessarily be a closer. Ideally, it would be a reliever who has pitched in high-leverage situations and could be a mentor in the 'pen.
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5. Brinson or bust?
The speed, power and raw talent are there; is everything ready to come together for Lewis Brinson in 2019? The Marlins are banking on the 24-year-old being their center fielder. But securing the job isn't a sure thing. In his first full big league season, Brinson hit .199 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs, though he missed a couple of months due to right hip inflammation. In September, Brinson showed signs of improvement. He made adjustments at the plate and improved his hard-contact rate. This is a "show me" season for Brinson, who will have to prove he belongs. If he struggles, the club could seek alternative answers in center field.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.