Hill focused on pitching as Stanton rumors swirl

November 13th, 2017

ORLANDO -- The Marlins opened the General Managers Meetings on Monday, ready to explore ways to upgrade their pitching while retaining as many core position players as possible.

"That's the challenge," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We're trying to add talent to this organization, and add depth to the organization. That's the challenge in front of us, to try to do all of that, and build a team that we think can be successful and win games."

Miami finished 77-85 and has not had a winning season since 2009.

Where the club stands now is the reality that Miami may have to part with All-Star right fielder , who led the Majors in home runs (59) and RBIs (132).

Stanton is a finalist for the National League Most Valuable Player Award, but the slugger is also set to make $25 million next year, and has $295 million remaining on the final 10 years of his contract.

What's next for Stanton is one of the top stories of the GM Meetings and the offseason.

At least four teams have checked in on trade possibilities for Stanton, with the list including the Giants, Cardinals, Red Sox and Phillies. The list is expected to grow by the time the Meetings conclude on Thursday.

"It's not just him, though," Hill said on growing interest in Stanton. "We have a lot of good players. That's what you filter through, this whole process of putting a plan together of what you see moving forward with your club. That's what we'll be doing this offseason."

Teams also are contacting the Marlins regarding left fielder and center fielder .

The Cardinals, A's and Phillies are among teams who may have interest.

As an organization, the Marlins are torn because they have an offense they believe can contend right now. But the pitching ranked near the bottom of the league, and the farm system is thin.

It may take a couple of years to improve the pitching. Stanton has already said he doesn't want to be part of another organization makeover.

The solution isn't to sign free-agent pitchers, because that's also risky.

Offensively, the Marlins were 11th in the Majors in runs scored (778), but they were 26th in runs allowed (822).

In 2017, the Marlins kept the core together, and tried to win with a pitching staff that had durable starters and a deep bullpen. The plan didn't work out, magnifying the tragic loss of All-Star right-hander, Jose Fernandez who died in a boating accident on Sept. 25, 2016.

Fernandez's death led to the signing of to a two-year contract. But the right-hander, who started on Opening Day, had Tommy John surgery and likely will miss all of 2018.

is dealing with left elbow issues, and the hope is he will be healthy by Spring Training, but that isn't a guarantee.

"You had a group of position players that you knew was talented, that was ready to do special things, and you had an ace at the front of your rotation that really changed the dynamics of everything. When you lose [Fernandez], you have to make the adjustment. We know it's a game of adjustments that we work in, and that's a challenge."