Is the Marlins' front office working toward signing any free agents, or is it waiting to figure out what will ultimately happen with the J.T. Realmuto situation?
The impression I am getting is there is a bit of a domino effect going on regarding Realmuto. The industry is waiting to see where free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado land. If, for example, Harper signs with the Phillies, that may motivate the Braves to make a stronger push for Realmuto. Or what if the Yankees -- or another club that has backed away in recent weeks -- feel more compelled to pick up negotiations? How the marquee free agents play out will also drive the market.
• The latest Realmuto rumors
There are many moving parts going on with Realmuto, which has moved free agency for the Marlins to the back burner.
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The Marlins being in on DJ LeMahieu was interesting, and there were even some rumblings about being the mystery team on Machado. That aligns with what you've said about this rebuild not being a long one. Have you heard any other interesting names being linked to Miami?
I saw MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal's report that the Marlins explored signing LeMahieu before the Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman agreed to a two-year, $24 million deal with the Yankees. In general, I'm not surprised when any team checks in on any free agent. The contract LeMahieu signed with New York is affordable, so if you're Miami, why not see if there is a fit?
Keep this in mind with players like LeMahieu and other free agents who have been to the postseason and have offers from multiple teams: Their first priority -- aside from money -- is to be a part of a winner, not a team building.
I have noted that this build is more a three- to five-year plan, and not five and above. If Realmuto is dealt before Spring Training starts, which I expect will happen, that sets the build back another year, in my opinion.
As for Machado, the timing this year hasn't been right to place such a long-term investment into a superstar player. Miami has two years remaining on its current local TV deal, which is the lowest of all 30 big league teams. A year from now, I believe the team will be better positioned to sign high-profile free agents.
• Hot Stove Tracker
Do you think Martin Prado would be a good candidate to join the organization's coaching staff?
-- Jose T., Miami
I'm confident in saying that once the 35-year-old is done playing, Prado would be a terrific coach on any club's staff. But we're not there yet. The veteran third baseman has one year remaining on the three-year, $40 million contract he signed in 2016. Prado is set to make $15 million in '19. He has endured his share of injuries the past two seasons, and his focus now is being healthy and in the lineup in '19. Depending on how this season pans out for Prado, he will make a call on whether to play again in '20.
To your point about Prado as a coach with the Marlins: Once he gets done playing, that would be up to him, depending on whether he wants to spend more time with his family.
Just speculating, I think Prado would have plenty of post-playing options. I wouldn't be surprised if the Braves, the club he broke in with, seek to hire Prado. More than just being a coach, I could see Prado in a player development role, perhaps being heavily involved on the international end.
There are ways to stay involved without immediately entering the grind of being with a big league club every day.
What is the projected progression in the Minor Leagues for Victor Victor Mesa before he is called up to the Majors?
Earlier this week, I was able to see Mesa take part in a three-day Marlins hitters camp for nine invited prospects. The 22-year-old shows plenty of promise, but remember, he hasn't seen game action since defecting from Cuba last year. Mesa spent the offseason training with his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., who also signed with Miami in October. Mesa is a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, which means he will report and work out with the big league club starting next month. He isn't on the 40-man roster, so he is expected to open in the Minor Leagues, either at Class A Advanced Jupiter or Double-A Jacksonville. Best guess, the earliest Mesa could reach the big leagues is late in 2019 or '20.
Who is a dark-horse candidate to make the Marlins' Opening Day roster?
There's going to be plenty of attention in Spring Training to prospects like Mesa, Monte Harrison and Isan Diaz. All three project to be a big part of the organization, but there's a strong chance each starts off in the Minor Leagues. An under-the-radar candidate is left-handed reliever Jose Quijada. The 23-year-old from Venezuela was added to the 40-man roster earlier in the offseason, and he has a chance to win a left-handed reliever role. The Marlins are thin in that area, besides Adam Conley and Jarlin Garcia. In 63 Minor League innings last year, Quijada struck out 81, while walking 29.