On the Marlins’ Payroll SituationBy
As we approach the one-month anniversary of the Miami Marlins’ deadline wheeling and dealing, I figure it’s a good time to look ahead to how the club will improve the team in 2013.
The Marlins offloaded the contracts of Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante, among others, and based on how things stand, it appears that they’ll have somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million to work with this winter. The chances of Miami going after high-priced free agents this winter as they did last year is slim to none, but there are still plenty of issues to address if the club wants to have any shot at being competitive in the NL East over the next several years.
For starters, let’s look at the payroll situation. The total value of guaranteed contracts on the Fish’s roster (without options/buyouts taken into consideration) over the next several seasons is as follows:
2012: $80.7 million
2013: $62.8 million
2014: $43 million
2015: $41 million
These figures, provided by Baseball-Reference, obviously don’t take into account other variables such as arbitration or contractual incentives, but it gives you at least a broad understanding of what the club will be working with.
One issue that the club will have to deal with that will make it more difficult in finding productive players to plug into the roster in the future will have to do with the Marlins’ spending this past season. The contracts of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle are all heavily backloaded (particularly Reyes’ and Buehrle’s), so depending on how much Jeffrey Loria is looking to spend in the future, it’s unclear if the Fish can afford to make a run at another premium free agent and have the roster set up similar to the disaster it has experienced this season. They were at least able to unload every cent of Hanley’s deal on the Dodgers, and it’s possible that they could trade Josh Johnson either this winter or at the deadline next season, a move that would further decrease the payroll.
Another factor will be the contract situation of slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has already proved himself to be one of the best players in the game when healthy, and although he isn’t eligible for free agency until 2017 (arbitration-eligible in 2014), the Marlins will certainly have to look into offering him a long-term deal soon. Stanton would likely fetch upwards of $20 million per year on the free agent market, so if they do get a deal done, the club must find a way build a roster around two players (Stanton and Reyes) that would represent close to half the payroll.
There are plenty of issues to address with this current roster, ones that more than likely won’t be magically fixed with a few free agent signings this winter. Offensively, they have had trouble getting on base consistently and have only been able to count on Giancarlo Stanton as a source of power. The bullpen has been bad for stretches this season, and until Jacob Turner and Nate Eovaldi prove themselves to be reliable on a long-term basis, the rotation shows a lack of depth.
This winter, big-name free agents like Josh Hamilton or Nick Swisher will be out of the Fish’s price range, but there are still plenty of intriguing bats and arms on the market. They may not be sexy signings by any means, but they will still help the Marlins get closer to building a roster with depth and talent to add around Stanton, Reyes and the other young prospect acquisitions from this season.