Inbox: Will Miami make big Hot Stove splash?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers fans' questions

November 12th, 2020

MIAMI -- The Marlins can move in many directions to upgrade their roster during the Hot Stove season. Of all the potential deals they could make, the one that would certainly shake up the market is getting involved in the sweepstakes.

Miami also covets a closer. Two established ones, including former Marlins left-hander , are available. explores some of the positions the Marlins are expected to address in the latest inbox.

The most obvious question: Is Francisco Lindor on the table? -- @WilliamBlasL

Let’s jump right in and address a player who is on the minds of many Marlins fans. If Miami is looking to make a big splash this offseason, it would create a tidal wave of attention by making a push for Lindor. The Indians’ All-Star shortstop turns 27 on Saturday, and he is among the highest profile players on the trade market. Lindor, who made $17.5 million in arbitration this year, can become a free agent after next season. His salary expects to be north of $20 million in 2021.

That presents a few issues for the Marlins, starting off with the cost to acquire. Even for one guaranteed year of one of MLB’s top players, the Tribe would seek a sizeable return. I would imagine trade talks would start with Cleveland asking for hard-throwing prospect Edward Cabrera, which should be a non-starter for Miami. The Tribe then would likely want shortstop prospect . While the Marlins do have a deep system, how much of that talent pool are they willing to part with for perhaps a one-year player?

Miami's pitching depth was thinned during the season when Caleb Smith and Humberto Mejía were dealt to the D-backs for . Even if a deal could be worked out, chances are Lindor would still explore the free-agent market next offseason. With that being the case, it probably makes more sense for the Marlins to stick with at shortstop, with Chisholm splitting time at second base and shortstop in 2021. In ’22, the Marlins still could pursue Lindor in free agency.

If the Marlins make a significant free-agent signing for a position player, would it more likely be at second base or right field? I’m assuming any catcher signing will just be another Francisco Cervelli-type to split time with . -- @miasportsminute

I agree with your assessment about catcher. My expectation is that the club will give Alfaro a chance to rebound and show improvement in his overall game, with a priority being on defense and handling the staff. I anticipate another veteran to at least share time with Alfaro and , however that plays out.

When talking “significant signings,” my definition includes proven MLB players. They don’t have to be the top end of the free-agent class. Could the Marlins seek to sign a $20-plus-million-a-year player? Of course. But it’s probably unlikely. We still don’t know if there will be fans in the stands in 2021. If so, how many? Second base and right field are two areas I do expect to be addressed, but more along the lines of one-year contracts.

Do you see Miami making a one-year deal for a reclamation project like , for say, $6 million? I know he hasn’t been healthy and he’s older now. If he bounces back, he could provide innings to help the young starters build back up for 162 games. Also, if he does well, you could trade him. -- @SportsMia

I like the thought process, and I agree that having a veteran like Kluber on the staff could make a big impact on the rest of a relatively young rotation. Obviously, the question is health. Kluber, who turns 35 in April, is recovering from a right shoulder strain. A two-time American League Cy Young Award winner with the Tribe, Kluber threw just one inning in 2020 for the Rangers. It wasn’t much better in '19 with Cleveland, when he logged 35 2/3 innings. Kluber recently was cleared to begin throwing off the mound in December. If he appears to be getting back to form, making a modest deal -- with incentives -- could be worth considering.

Could the Marlins look to trade more young controllable pitching prospects like , , or for more bullpen help, or a second baseman? -- @SamuelScouting

I wouldn’t do it. I’m always reluctant to trade pitching. And if you have depth, I lean towards retaining it. But in the past two years, the Marlins have shown they are willing to move pitching for hitting. Twice they made such deals with the D-backs, acquiring Chisholm for Zac Gallen in 2019, and the Marte trade this year. That’s not to say you never move your surplus, but pitching is just too valuable to part with easily.

The bullpen may become a concern. What’s more likely: 1) Marlins go for bigger names like and Brad Hand. 2) They go for mid-to-low-tier free-agent relievers like this year. 3) They stick with the guys they already have? -- @ThatsCory

My choice would be to make a push for Hand. Maybe that’s because I’m partial to him since I covered him when he broke into the big leagues. Hendriks, obviously, is at the top of the free-agent bullpen class as well. The Marlins clearly will be in the market for relievers, specifically a closer. Maybe they will have to make a little bit of an overpay for one of the two closers you mention. Remember, they didn’t pick up 's $4 million club option, so perhaps that could be applied elsewhere to help strengthen the bullpen.