LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- All eyes will be on the Marlins at the Winter Meetings, as they are expected to be one of the most active teams on the trade front. That activity began on Thursday, when Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to the Mariners.The club followed that up
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- All eyes will be on the Marlins at the Winter Meetings, as they are expected to be one of the most active teams on the trade front. That activity began on Thursday, when Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to the Mariners.
The club followed that up with a massive deal Monday, sending National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees for second baseman Starlin Castro and a pair of prospects.
• Hot Stove Tracker
Under the ownership of Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, the new chief executive officer, the Marlins will listen on any number of their core players. The club finished this past season 77-85, marking their eighth straight losing season, and sweeping changes are expected.
The organization has a strong group of position players, but lacks overall organizational depth.
"We're going to make decisions, like I said before, that sometimes may be unpopular decisions," Jeter said last month at the General Managers Meetings. "But just know that every decision we make is to try to turn this franchise around."
Starting pitching: After Jose Fernandez's death at the end of the 2016 season, the Marlins tried to patch together a rotation of proven veterans with a history of durability. It didn't pan out, as Opening Day starter Edinson Volquez underwent Tommy John surgery, Wei-Yin Chen threw just 27 innings and is dealing with a sore left elbow and Tom Koehler struggled and ended up being traded. Miami's starters had a 5.12 ERA, which ranked 26th in the Majors, and their 830 2/3 innings were 29th.
Shortstop: When Adeiny Hechavarria was traded to the Rays during the season, the Marlins were optimistic JT Riddle was ready to take over. But the left-handed-hitting rookie dealt with a left shoulder injury and was limited to 70 games. Miguel Rojas, who has shown signs he can play every day, was limited to 90 games as he missed time with a broken left thumb. Both are expected to be ready for Spring Training, but neither has played a full season in the big leagues exclusively at shortstop.
Closer: After AJ Ramos was traded to the Mets, Brad Ziegler handled the role in the second half, and logged 10 saves. But Miami is open to trading Ziegler, who is set to make $9 million at age 38. Kyle Barraclough is a possibility, but he has just one big league save. If the Marlins make sweeping changes and opt to rebuild, they may groom a young pitcher. Still, they will explore the market for candidates who profile as closers.
Who they can trade if necessary
LF Marcell Ozuna: The 27-year-old is coming off his best season, belting 37 home runs and driving in 124 runs with a .312 batting average. In arbitration, he could make close to $11 million, and he's two years from free agency. So Ozuna's stock is high. The Cardinals and others would have strong interest.
CF Christian Yelich: With a club-friendly contract, Yelich is signed through 2022, and will make $7 million in '18 and $9.75 million in '19. So if Miami made Yelich available, he would command a large haul. There is no urgency to trade Yelich, and if he isn't dealt this offseason, he could be a dealt at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July.
Ziegler: Signed for $9 million, the 38-year-old is an established veteran with a history of getting ground-ball outs. With Miami looking to trim payroll and get younger, Ziegler is a candidate to be moved. Again, the Cardinals could be a fit.
Two of the Marlins' top four prospects were called up in September and got a taste of the big leagues. Third baseman Brian Anderson, according to MLBPipeline.com, is Miami's No. 3 prospect, and left-hander Dillon Peters is fourth. If third baseman Martin Prado, who was limited to 37 games due to injuries, isn't ready, Anderson is a candidate to win the starting job in Spring Training. However, that isn't a guarantee. In 25 games, he batted .262 with a .337 on-base percentage, with seven doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. Peters will compete for a rotation spot after making six starts and going 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA. Left-hander Caleb Smith, acquired from the Yankees in a Minor League trade, has big league experience and could be a reliever candidate. He ranks 25th on Miami's prospect list.
Rule 5 Draft
To participate in the Rule 5 Draft, set for Dec. 14, the Marlins must have at least one roster space open on their 40-man roster, which is currently full. That is expected, and Miami may indeed take a player or two in the MLB Phase. The Marlins had a big success story in the Rule 5 Draft in 2005, taking second baseman Dan Uggla.
Big contracts they might unload
Prado is due $28.5 million over the next two years. If the Marlins can attach relievers Ziegler ($9 million) and/or Junichi Tazawa ($7 million) to a trade, Miami would certainly entertain that possibility.
In Jeffrey Loria's final season as owner, the Opening Day payroll was a franchise-record $115 million. The new owners would like to trim that figure to under $100 million. Volquez, who may miss the whole season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, is owed $13 million, and Chen, who has left elbow concerns, is on the hook for $10 million.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.