De Aza is now a starter for the White Sox and the Dominican Republic’s WBC team. Vargas, signed to one-year deal by the Angels, averaged 32 starts and went 33-36 with a 3.96 ERA in Seattle during the past three years. Willingham, a relatively cheap, but good bat, has hit .258 and averaged 26 homers and 81 RBI for the Nationals, A’s and Twins over the last four years.
While $131 million is still a lot of money for any MLB roster, there are cheaper versions of the Marlins that would still field extremely competitive teams.
By getting rid of Ramirez and Buehrle that would save the Marlins $26.5 million. Cabrera could move to third base and Morrison could move into the starting lineup at first base. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, whom the Marlins got from the Dodgers in the Ramirez trade, would replace Buehrle in the rotation. Left-hander Randy Choate, lost as part of that Dodgers trade, would get replaced by Wade LeBlanc in the bullpen.
That team would cost $110 million — the 13th-most expensive roster in baseball — still less than the Cardinals and Nationals.
Still want to go cheaper and get under $100 million? There are ways.
Dump Ross ($6 million) and Buck ($6 million) and move Alejandro De Aza into the starting lineup in center and Olivo moves behind the plate. As insurance behind the plate instead of trading John Baker, you keep him and his $930,000 salary. Dan Jennings becomes the second left-hander in the pen instead of LeBlanc. At $99 million the Marlins rank right in the middle of baseball in terms of spending at No. 15.
Want to save even more case and improve the situation at catcher and get younger in the rotation? Make the trade with the Tigers that sent Infante and Sanchez away for Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner, and move Donovan Solano into the starting lineup at second base. At $87 million the Marlins rank 17th in spending and still have an envious 3-4-5 punch of Reyes, Cabrera and Stanton.
“Don’t show me that roster,” one current member of the Marlins organization said. “That’s the team that would make me cry. That one is pretty realistic.”