Lots of low-risk, high-reward type of budget signings are pushing the Marlins forward this offseason. They were able to shore up their backstop position with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and fortify problem positions with Garret Jones and Rafael Furcal at 1st and 2nd, respectively. Instead of trying to find a longer-term solution for their 3rd base woes, they took a flyer on Casey McGehee who had a productive season in Japan last year.
The key for the Marlins was keeping their stock of phenomenal pitching talent in place, which they were able to do. Obviously the staff will be anchored by Jose Fernandez heading into this season and the list of young arms with the potential to dazzle is quite a long one at this point.
It is no surprise, then, that the Marlins would go out and sign a few more players to shore up positions of need and strengthen some weaknesses on the team while also adding some intriguing depth. In Carlos Marmol, the Marlins get an electric arm that was once among the game’s best closers. Having some control issues (see meme to the left), he took a bit of a tumble that landed him out of Chicago and into LA with the Dodgers. If he can put things together again, who knows? This is a move that is very typical of the Marlins and can remind one of the Kevin Gregg or Todd Jones signings of the past. Marmol is 31 and although his slider seemed to get a little straight this past season, scouts report the fastball is still alive around 94-95 MPH. Marmol will be looking to land in the 8th inning to set up Steve Cishek and signed a one year deal for $1.25M. He will have some pretty interesting competition with the newly acquired Carter Capps (from Seattle for Logan Morrison), Arquimedes Caminero, AJ Ramos, and non-roster invite Henry Rodriguez.
The other recent signing that stands out is the Jeff Baker deal. The long and short of it is, Baker has played everywhere and for everybody. He offers lots of flexibility, playing every infield position except SS and C – logging 400+ innings at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and even some RF. His signing also means that the bench is all but set with Jeff Mathis, Greg Dobbs, and Brian Bogusevic rounding out 4 of the possible 5 spots left. Juan C. Rodriguez gives a great outline of this scenario. Baker could platoon against lefties for Garret Jones at 1B and even get time at 3B or 2B to shore up needs for injury. This also means the Marlins will see a heated competition between Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano as they will try to work their way into that 5th bench spot along with Reed Johnson and Ty Wigginton.
The Marlins were able to navigate the offseason, improve their roster, and not trade away any of their young arms to do it. With this minor signings, the Marlins were also able to shore up their bench and drastically change the composition of their locker room. Now manager Mike Redmond has a lot of versatility to create matchups against opponents and overcome any short term injury concerns. It’s shaping up to be a truly interesting season in 2014 for the Fish.