The Miami Marlins frustrate me. Here is a ball club that over the past decade or so has found itself with talented cores, but has been unable to truly compete and be a threat in any sort of meaningful way.
A few years ago, the Marlins had the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and the late José Fernandez. That team failed to contend and eventually decided for a full-on rebuild shipping off the first three of those names.
That’s not to say that a rebuild at the time wasn’t the right decision, the team wasn’t going anywhere and with a new ownership group, hitting the reset button seemed like a reasonable thing to do.
Here we are in 2022 and where do the Miami Marlins stand?
With an exciting nucleus of young players, but for multiple reasons, mostly surrounding an inoffensive offense, this team is unlikely to be a big threat in 2022.
The Miami Marlins went 67-95 to finish in fourth place of the weak NL East in 2021. A division that was supposed to be known for its overall strength and competitive balance, collapsed so hard that even after an awful start, the Braves managed to bounce back just enough to win it and go on to take the World Series.
A 67-win season doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence heading into the following year, however, if you look beneath the surface, there is room for optimism and maybe even the more aggressive minds could project fringe contention for the fish in 2022.
Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, and Pablo Lopéz would form the most exciting trio of young starters in the National League, if not for a certain outstanding group in the state of Wisconsin.
Alcantara, the Marlins’ defacto ace heads into his fifth season with the Marlins fresh off a contract extension worth $56 M over five years, that will eat up into his first free-agent years. The young right-hander from the Dominican Republic seems to be evolving with every season and had a 1.07 WHIP in 2021.
Trevor Rogers made the All-Star game last season and his play earned that selection. The left-hander had a breakout campaign with a 2.64 ERA in 133 IP, finishing second in the Rookie of the year race. The former first-round pick has the pedigree of an ace and should continue to develop into one of the better southpaws in the game, heading into his second full season.
Pablo López missed time in 2021 but managed to set career-best marks in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts in 102 2/3 IP over 20 starts. The right-hander from Venezuela still hasn’t shown us all that he can do over a full season and he is only set to hit free agency in 2025.
This trio of starters provides the Marlins with one of the better nuclei of pitching, and that’s not even looking at exciting names on the cusp such as Sixto Sánchez, Jesús Luzardo, and even Max Meyer who’s yet to make his debut, but has one of the better sliders in the minors.
None of these starters put any sort of financial stress on the Marlins, only Alcantara is making significant money and even he is locked up on a very team-friendly deal, for all he can provide.
This setup provides ownership with the ability to invest heavily on offense for a lineup that needs an anchor or two. That was reportedly one of the major points that caused a rift between Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman.
Although we don’t know for a fact what truly transpired, it is well-established that the Marlins will probably fall on the conservative side of free-agent spending once is all said and done. Right now the Marlins payroll sits slightly under $55 million with Avisail Garcia as the highest earner making $12 million
Looking at the lineup. Jacob Stallings should be the primary catcher after coming over from the Pittsburgh Pirates via trade. Miguel Rojas and Jazz Chisholm form the double play combo with Jesus Aguilar and Brian Anderson at the corners. Another trade acquisition that should play a significant role is Joey Wendle.
Brian Anderson was a pillar of this lineup and historically has hit righties far better than lefties, so a platoon with Wendle doesn’t seem like the likeliest scenario. My expectation is that Wendle will move around as a utility player, especially if Anderson manages to make a seamless transition back to where he was before the injury in 2021.
Outside of Avisail Garcia, there isn’t a ton of certainty around the outfield. I’d expect another addition or two before the start of the season. Jesus Sanchéz, Monte Harrison, and Garrett Cooper are some of the more prominent names slotted for playing time at the moment.
Chisholm is an exciting middle infielder with a nice blend of pop/speed, but outside of him, one can easily understand why this Marlins lineup is a major source of skepticism for even the more optimistic projectors.
Individually, there are plenty of exciting names that will get me to tune in to a Marlins game, but it’s hard to put any trust in this roster making noise without significant additions to this attack. This has the makings of a 77 or so win season and maybe that’s another step forward for more financial backing in 2022 or maybe not. I don’t know.
What I do know is that this trio of starters deserves a better offense.
Projected Record: 76-84