Marlins don't plan on breaking up young core
Club wants to build around strong pieces in Stanton, Fernandez, Yelich
ORLANDO, Fla. -- To move forward, the Marlins are not thinking about taking any steps backward. Subtracting core players is not part of their plans, and that message was made clear at the General Managers Meetings, which concluded on Thursday at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes.
After finishing 62-100 with primarily inexperienced players, the Marlins are planning to push into 2014 with their current nucleus while looking to add a few more pieces to boost an offense that finished last in the Majors in pretty much every significant statistical category.
"We're trying to get better and acquire players who help us now," said Michael Hill, Miami's president of baseball operations.
Heading into the four-day GM Meetings, there was speculation as to whether the Marlins would do the opposite, especially in the case of Giancarlo Stanton. Although high-ranking team officials stated beforehand that Stanton was not available on the trade front, the meetings were a test, because all 30 clubs were face to face in the expansive lobby at the Marriott.
If the Marlins were seriously not considering any offers on Stanton, Orlando was the place to find out. Miami wouldn't budge on even considering a deal for Stanton, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time.
After earning $537,000 in '13, Stanton's salary figures to be in the $7 million range in his first arbitration-eligible season. The team remains open to presenting him a multiyear deal, and it is prepared to go on a year-to-year basis if one isn't reached.
Stanton, a 24-year-old right fielder, is one of the most affordable power threats in the game.
The Marlins will look to build around Stanton and Jose Fernandez, their 21-year-old ace who was named National League Rookie of the Year on Monday. On Wednesday, Fernandez finished third in the NL Cy Young Award balloting.
Miami like its young pieces. Left fielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria are highly touted in the club's eyes.
The hope is Logan Morrison, fully healthy after undergoing two right knee surgeries, can produce at first base.
"We feel like we have a good young core of starting pitching, a good young core of productive outfielders, a healthy first baseman now and a Gold Glove [caliber] shortstop now," Hill said.
Ideally, the Marlins would like to add two or three hitters. Third base and catcher are areas they are exploring their trade options. They also are considering modestly priced free agents.
And while they are planning on moving forward with Morrison at first base, if something else arises that makes sense, the Marlins could consider moving in another direction. Morrison also is arbitration-eligible for the first time, and his salary could raise to roughly $2 million.
The bullpen is expected to remain relatively the same. Steve Cishek, set to make in the $3 million range in arbitration, also is not available as a trade piece. The team has expressed an interest in bringing back free-agent reliever Chad Qualls, who is weighing all of his options.
Behind their young pitching, the Marlins feel there is a foundation to make steady improvements.
Payroll should be in the $45 million range, but a firmer figure will be set in about a week.
"We're looking to add to those pieces to win more games," Hill said. "Without putting a number on it, we need to improve -- 62-100 is not good enough."