After going crazy in the free agent market last offseason, the Miami Marlins are going to be taking a bit of a different approach this offseason. Heath Bell has already been banished from Miami, and he joined Hanley Ramirez, who was traded in July, in the NL West. Anibal Sanchez was also dealt in July, and is now playing in the World Series. But Miami still has some holes, and it certainly will be interesting to see how they handle them this offseason.
I really don't think the Marlins are in terrible shape going into 2013. Jose Reyes and Giancarlo Stanton are a fantastic pair of players to build the franchise around and a hell of a foundation. Rob Brantly will likely get the lion's share of playing time behind the plate along with John Buck, and the team still will need a pair of corner infielders, depending on how Logan Morrison's recovery from knee surgery goes. In the outfield, I'm assuming the Marlins will continue to gamble with Justin Ruggiano in left after an unreal 91 games in Miami last year, and pray for Emilio Bonifiacio's health in center. Donovan Solano seems to be the favorite for the second base job, and pitching isn't an issue at all. So essentially, all that I think the Marlins will be hunting are a first baseman and a third baseman, unless they have the utmost faith in Morrison's health and Zack Cox's bat suddenly maturing.
With Miami's payroll getting slashed to the $75 million area, they have some wiggle room in signing free agents this winter. I think they'll take a hard look at Adam LaRoche at first base before settling with a much cheaper player who probably can't play every day…someone like a Ty Wigginton type, assuming the Phillies don't exercise his option. Wigginton could play both corners (albeit poorly), and would give them a little bit of versatility. The market at third base is absolutely awful, and I don't think any of the names available would really wet the Marlins whistles.
Now this is where things get interesting. John Buck seems like a near lock to be traded with his $6.5 million salary for this season as essentially a backup. I don't think the Marlins would get much of anything in return, but shedding his salary would be huge for this team when it comes to creating payroll flexibility. The Marlins also have a pair of starters in Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco that are both in the final years of their contract and would probably end up walking away from Miami for a healthy payday. The Marlins don't *need* to restock their farm system because it's pretty damn good as is, but why not try to cash in on either player before they just walk away?
The Marlins don't need to go into pure sell mode, and the really didn't in the Ramirez or Sanchez trades, picking up three major league ready players in Brantly, Jacob Turner, and Nate Eovaldi. That is the type of talent that Miami should look for if they're trading any of their talent. For example, if the Phillies or Braves are calling, ask for Trevor May, Randall Delgado, or Julio Teheran. If the Cardinals pick up the phone for some reason, ask for Trevor Rosenthal or Shelby Miller. If the Rangers call, demand Jurickson Profar. Do you see where I'm going with this? I actually think the Marlins are in better shape right now than they were eight months ago, and I'm not really on the whole "MARLINS BACKSTABBED THEIR FANBASE!!!" sentiment from July. At the same time, they need help at several positions on the field, and dealing someone to pick up a 23/24 year old option would help them out greatly.
And as for those rumors about a certain superstar third baseman…I don't think he's going to get traded, and even if he would, I don't think he'd be a great fit in Miami. This is a young, talented Marlins team, and adding someone like Alex Rodriguez to the fold could continue the media circus that enveloped the team for the 2012 season.