The Miami Marlins had a busy off-season and now the on-field work will begin when pitchers and catchers report on Friday.
A barrage of signings and trades filled a busy few months for the team. Hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent as the team looks to build on the success of the 2014 season. Besides the transactions, the Marlins were also recently awarded the 2017 All-Star Game by Major League Baseball.
The first move of the off-season came when the Marlins inked Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year contract worth $325 million. The signing had multiple positive aspects to it for the Marlins. For one, it meant keeping the leader of the team in Miami. The signing also showed a change in business for the Marlins. Gone were the days of seeing All-Star talent head elsewhere as was the case with Miguel Cabrera.
With Stanton under contract for the long term, the Marlins were able to know exactly what kind of budget they could play with in 2015 and beyond. Stanton to his credit took a team-friendly in the early years which should allow Miami to field a competitor annually. Stanton could have earned substantially more on the open-market in the first few years of the contract.
A domino effect of Stanton signing is the ability to add free agents. Players looked at the Marlins differently after seeing the commitment given to Stanton. Miami now became a destination for stability and prolonged potential winning. That mentality led to the Marlins adding Mike Morse as their new first baseman.
Morse was coming off a championship with the San Francisco Giants and gives the Marlins something they missed in 2014. Despite a successful year for the team, there was a black hole of sorts at first base. The Garrett Jones experiment did not go as hoped for Miami but Morse should give the team a higher level of production if he is able to stay healthy.
Beyond the signing of Morse, the Marlins also acquired several players in trades that will play a pivotal role in 2015. At second base will be Dee Gordon and in the rotation will be Dan Haren. Both were acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers when Miami sent highly touted prospect Andrew Heaney out west.
There will also be a new third baseman in Miami after the team elected to make a change and upgrade from Casey McGehee. Despite the surprise production from McGehee, the team apparently liked the upside in Martin Prado. The veteran infielder was brought over from the New York Yankees in exchange for Nathan Eovaldi.
While Eovaldi showed glimpses of greatness, he also was highly inconsistent and struggled to go deep into games. The Marlins moved quickly to replace Eovaldi in the rotation when they acquired Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds. The local product will be a free agent after the season but could be critical for Miami's playoff hopes in 2015.
There is not much in the way of competition heading into spring training. While Tom Koehler has not been guaranteed a rotation spot, it would appear to be his to lose. Should Koehler falter, Brad Hand or even David Phelps could take the fifth starter role. Koehler would be an option for the bullpen at that point as well.
After pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, the remainder of the team will join them on February 24th.