Adding hitters priority for Miami Marlins

Don’t expect a free agent spending spree in the offseason, but the Marlins will seek to upgrade their hitting.

10/01/2013 12:01 AM

07/31/2014 5:15 PM

The Cleveland Indians lost 94 games last season. They’re in the playoffs this year. The Oakland A’s and Pittsburgh Pirates have two of the five lowest payrolls in the majors. They, too, are playing in October.

New general manager Dan Jennings said he would like the Marlins, who lost 100 games with the second-lowest payroll in the majors, to emulate those teams in trying to get back on track.

The Marlins have suffered through four consecutive losing seasons, the past three of which resulted in last-place finishes in the National League East. They last appeared in the postseason in 2003, the year they last won the World Series. Only the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays have had longer playoff droughts.

“When I see Pittsburgh, when I see Oakland, when I see Tampa Bay, and when I see Cleveland, I look at those clubs and they’re kind of blue-collar grinder teams,” Jennings said. “They have one or two All-Star caliber players. But for the most part, they’re blue-collar guys.”

And Jennings believes the Marlins can find success the same way.

“We’re never going to have the big-market payroll,” Jennings said. “You’re going to have to grow your own if you’re going to be successful, bottom line. We have a lot of those pieces currently in place.”

In other words, don’t expect the Marlins to make a major splash in the free agent market this season. Either they will look for modestly priced hitters to beef up an anemic lineup that ranked last in scoring runs this season, or they will trade their greatest asset — their young pitching talent — to acquire hitters.

They are not expected to increase payroll by a significant amount. But Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has been telling players and others that he would locate one or two hitters this offseason to improve the lineup.

Jennings and Michael Hill, who replaces Larry Beinfest as president of baseball operations, will be assigned with improving a Marlins team that toiled to the tune of a 62-100 record — second-worst record in the majors.

“There’s a silver lining to finishing with the second-worst record in baseball,” Jennings said. “That silver lining is that our pool of monies for international [signings], as well as the slotted monies for the draft, those go up.”

The Marlins will have the second-overall pick in the June amateur draft.

In terms of securing immediate help, the Marlins will very likely examine trading some of their young pitching to land a young hitter.

In particular, the Marlins could look to upgrade at third base, first base and catcher. The Marlins are also counting on improvement and better consistency from their large core of young players.

More changes

The Marlins on Monday made more changes to their front office baseball staff, firing Mike Wickham, director of baseball operations, and replacing him with Dan Noffsinger. Noffsinger had been serving under Jennings as assistant director, pro scouting. Wickham was hired by Beinfest.

Piece of history

Didn’t see Henderson Alvarez’s no-hitter Sunday in person but would like to pretend you were there?

The Marlins are selling the 9,100 remaining unused tickets to Sunday’s game between now and midnight Oct. 6.

Prices start at $15. Tickets can be bought at marlins.com/alvareznono and at the Marlins team store at Marlins Park.

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