The NL East was supposed to be one of if not the most competitive division in baseball. That wasn’t exactly the way things turned out, but the line of thought behind it had its merits and it wouldn’t be shocking to see a different level of competition next season.
The Nationals and Phillies appear to be waiting for the resolution of the CBA negotiations before really diving into their offseason plans, the defending champions seem to be prioritizing the Freddie Freeman situation and the New York Mets have grabbed all the headlines with a spending spree that elevated the team to the biggest payroll in baseball almost overnight, however, I’m not here to talk about any of them. The Miami Marlins deserve some attention.
The Marlins didn’t exactly maximize their value after offloading the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. Several key prospects didn’t pan out, but as things stand, there is a rather exciting wave of young arms headlining their pitching staff and the future could be bright in South Florida.
Entering this offseason the goal for this team wasn’t to go all win or even necessarily contend for day one, it’s obvious that every ball club wants to make the playoffs, but the objective is to retain its core players and add talent especially to the position players side. There has been plenty of action already in making that happen.
Here is a sum of the moves made so far by the Marlins
Sandy Alcantara extension.
It was the Marcell Ozuna trade that netted the most value to the Marlins and the key piece of the deal was Alcantara who has been a staple of this rotation over the last three seasons. The right-hander agreed to a five-year extension worth $56 M guaranteed with a team option for a sixth year at $21 M.
Here’s the breakdown of the deal:
2022: $3.5M - 2023: $6M - 2024: $9M - 2025: $17M - 2026: $17M
2027 Team option: $21M w/ $2M buyout
$1.5M signing bonus - $1M assignment bonus
Alcantara wasn’t scheduled to reach free agency until 2025. The right-hander had a 3.19 ERA with 201 strikeouts in 205.1 IP and a really good 1.07 WHIP in 2021
Trade for Joey Wendle
The Rays were notoriously aggressive in making room on their 40 man roster to open up spots for younger talent that needed to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. There won’t be a major league portion of the Rule 5 draft this year, but Tampa Bay couldn’t know that for certain. The team had talks about Kevin Kiermarier and moved Brent Honeywell to the A’s - The Marlins took advantage of the opportunity and struck a deal for another player involved in those talks: Joey Wendle.
In the case of Wendle, the motivation was actually to clear a spot for the recently signed Corey Kluber. In exchange, the Marlins gave up Kameron Misner, a twenty-four-year-old outfield prospect selected with the 35th overall pick in the 2019 Draft. Misner was ranked as the 10th best prospect in the Marlins farm system according to FanGraphs.
A big part of Wendle’s value comes from his flexibility which means he’ll likely be moved all over the field by Don Mattingly. In 2021 Wendle slashed .265/.319/.422 and was worth 3.8 bWAR in fewer than 500 plate appearances.
Trade for Jacob Stallings
The Marlins gave up major-leaguer Zack Thompson along with a couple of prospects, right-handed pitcher Kyle Nicolas and outfielder Connor Scott. Jacob Stallings may not be a household name, but he’s one of the premier defensive catchers in the game, ranking as an above-average pitch framer with every metric.
Stallings had a modest .245/.335/.369 slash line in 2021, however, he earned the NL Gold Glove for his excellent play behind the plate. The Marlins get a veteran presence with all the tools to facilitate and help with the development of a young staff moving forward.
The lockout is officially on so we don’t know what else is in store for the Marlins in this off-season, but it’s a promising start for a team with potential to make some noise even if it’s still a ways away.
Sign Avisail Garcia
The team was in on possibly bringing back Starling Marte after dealing him at the deadline despite a higher asking price, when that didn’t work out the focus shifted towards Avisail Garcia. The corner outfielder signed a surprising four-year deal worth $53 M in guaranteed dollars.
Garcia will make $12 million each year and there’s also a $12 million club option with a $5 million buyout, it should be noted that he’ll donate $120K each year to the team charity.
In what was likely the best season of his career, Garcia played in 135 games and had a .262/.330/.490 batting line worth 2.9 bWAR.