The Marlins — along with a handful of other teams — haven’t signed a single player from another team to a guaranteed major-league contract this winter, but there’s a reason for it.
1) They would prefer to first trade catcher J.T. Realmuto so they know what they get back in return and what roster needs must be met in the aftermath. Realmuto’s agent has said his client wants a trade, and the Marlins are open to accommodating him if they can get top value in return.
2) They’re waiting for the market to settle. There are still a ton of free agents waiting to sign, with some of them awaiting decisions by Manny Machado and Bryce Harper and the dominoes to fall.
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The Marlins did make a significant move by signing top Cuban prospect Victor Victor Mesa and his brother, Victor Jr. Both are expected to begin the season in the minors. They’ve also signed several big leaguers, including former Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez, to contracts as non-roster spring training invitees.
Here’s where the Marlins stand financially:
They have $64 million committed to eight players: Wei-Yin Chen ($20 million), Martin Prado ($15 million), Starlin Castro ($11 million), Realmuto ($5.9 million), Dan Straily ($5 million), Miguel Rojas ($3.15 million), Jose Urena ($3.2 million) and Adam Conley ($1.1 million).
Factoring in low-money deals for the rest of the players currently on the potential 25-man roster — none of whom are eligible for arbitration — that would bring the payroll to about $74 million-$75 million.
The Marlins are planning a payroll in the $80 million to $85 million range.
But trading Realmuto and Straily would leave a projected payroll of $63 million-$64 million — if the Marlins don’t get back players earning more than the minimum range. That would leave more money available for free agency.
Straily remains available if the Marlins can get a quality return. Otherwise, Miami is happy to have him on the team.
The Marlins would like to add a left-handed bat who can play multiple positions (infield and outfield), and that likely will be addressed by late February.
There’s also a good chance that the team will have a starting outfielder who isn’t currently on the roster.
Realmuto trade discussions continue, with the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds among those who have had discussions with Miami.
For now, the Marlins don’t have a single proven big-league outfielder, unless Brian Anderson plays there. Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra will have a chance to win starting jobs in spring training, and the Marlins have a dozen legitimate outfield prospects.
But Anderson could be needed at third, unless Martin Prado is healthy enough and shows no diminishing skills.
Peter O’Brien, Garrett Cooper and Martin Prado will compete at first.
The Marlins have Castro at second and a Rojas/J.T. Riddle combination at shortstop.
The Marlins reached new deals with radio announcers Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner.
Van Horne, 79, will miss a few games in order to reduce his workload. WINZ-940 will again be the rights-holder.