Overhaul impacts Marlins at numerous positions
A little over a year later, the franchise is undergoing a different kind of makeover. A major roster revision is under way.
The Marlins made a big splash on Tuesday night by agreeing to a blockbuster 12-player trade with the Blue Jays.
Pending completion of the megadeal, Miami will be sending Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto. In return, the Marlins will receive Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and prospects Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani.
From their 2012 Opening Day roster, the Marlins have now traded 12 key players -- Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, Bonifacio, Buck, Hanley Ramirez, Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Heath Bell, Randy Choate, Gaby Sanchez and Edward Mujica.
Additionally, manager Ozzie Guillen was replaced by Mike Redmond.
Management felt the moves were necessary after the team finished last in the National League East with a 69-93 record.
The impact of the trade may hurt in 2013, but the move restocks the Minor League system and creates payroll flexibility for the future with nearly $160 million in base salaries now off the books.
And while there is speculation that All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton could be moved, the Marlins are not seeking to trade their 23-year-old sensation.
As the organization regroups, there remains plenty of work to do to fill out the roster.
More moves could be on the horizon. But here's a look at how each position shapes up with the Winter Meetings a few weeks away.
Rotation: Dealing Johnson and Buehrle creates an opening for a new ace and No. 2 starter. Ricky Nolasco is the most seasoned veteran on the staff. But the right-hander is in the final season of his contract, and he's set to make $11.5 million in 2013. The veteran may also be dealt.
If he remains, Nolasco has a chance to be the Opening Day starter. Alvarez, newly acquired, is a 22-year-old with an upper-90-mph fastball. The right-hander throws a sinker and gets his share of double-play ground balls. But he is still working on his slider and lacks a consistent third pitch. Ultimately, he may be better suited as a reliever.
Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi each showed promise during their rookie seasons. Both right-handers have tremendous upside, but they have combined for just 41 big league starts.
Wade LeBlanc has a chance to be a left-hander in the rotation. Nicolino, a lefty, could move rapidly through the system.
The big question is if management will accelerate the development of Jose Fernandez, who has the makings of being an ace. Fernandez hasn't pitched above Class A Jupiter, and he would appear to be headed to Double-A Jacksonville at the start of 2013.
Bullpen: Moving Bell to the D-backs a few weeks ago removes any doubt that Steve Cishek will remain the closer. The 26-year-old saved 15 games after taking over the role from Bell at the All-Star break.
The search is on for setup relief help. Ryan Webb, A.J. Ramos, Chris Hatcher, Mike Dunn and Dan Jennings are late-inning options.
Catcher: Rob Brantly showed terrific promise after being called up from Triple-A New Orleans late in the season. Obtained from the Tigers in July, the 23-year-old appeared in 31 games and had 100 at-bats, hitting .290 with three home runs and eight RBIs. A left-handed hitter, Brantly should get the majority of the playing time. Mathis steps in as the backup.
First base: Most likely, Logan Morrison will switch from left field to first base, his natural position. The 25-year-old appeared in 21 games at first base in 2012, and he has 22 games total at the position.
Health is also an issue. Morrison underwent surgery on his right knee in September, but he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Second base: Hechavarria or Donovan Solano could be the choices at either second or third base. Hechavarria is terrific defensively. Yet, he is inexperienced, appearing in 41 games for Toronto. The question is if he will hit enough to be a big league regular.
Solano was a pleasant surprise for Miami, getting regular playing time at second base in the second half. He batted .295 in 93 games as a rookie.
Shortstop: Escobar is the most established big leaguer in the trade with Toronto. The Cuban native recently turned 30, and he is coming off a tough season at the plate -- batting .253 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs.
Third base: Entering the offseason, third base was wide open. It remains so. Kevin Kouzmanoff signed a Minor League deal recently with an invitation to Spring Training. The 31-year-old will get a look, but he didn't play in the big leagues in 2012. Solano and Hechavarria could also be options. Zack Cox, acquired from the Cardinals in the Mujica trade, will get a look in Spring Training.
Outfield: Bonifacio was projecting to be in center field, but now that becomes a position of need. Internal candidates are Gorkys Hernandez and Bryan Petersen. Kevin Mattison and Chris Coghlan are on the 40-man roster.
Marisnick, regarded as a five-tool player, was with Redmond at Class A Dunedin this season. But is he ready to be in the big leagues in '13?
Left field is shaping up to be Justin Ruggiano's job. Petersen, Mattison and Coghlan all can play left as well.
Miami is set in right field with Stanton, who finished second in the NL in home runs with 37.
The Minor League system features top prospect Christian Yelich, coming off an All-Star season. But like Marisnick, Yelich hasn't played above Class A.