Filling rotation, bullpen are Marlins' priorities

With Suzuki, Prado signed, Miami looks to free-agent pool

Filling rotation, bullpen are Marlins' priorities

MIAMI -- As the Cubs are celebrating their first World Series championship in 108 years, the rest of Major League Baseball is about to embark on Hot Stove season.

The conclusion of the World Series signals the beginning of the offseason. Players were permitted to sign starting at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

For the Marlins, this means the push for pitching is about to get underway. The club is in the market for two starters to help solidify its rotation.

The death of Jose Fernandez in a boating accident on Sept. 25 created a giant void not only to the rotation, but also to the emotional state of the franchise. But even before the tragedy, the organization was planning on pursuing at least one starter.

The Marlins can focus most of their attention on pitching because they've already addressed a couple of internal priorities. In early October, they picked up the $2 million club option for outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, and they signed third baseman Martin Prado, who would've been a free agent, to a three-year, $40 million deal.

"Prado was a priority," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "For us to get him done was a major, major deal. He was probably a few months from free agency when the talks started. He very easily could have told us that he wanted to wait and see what the market is.

"We decided we were going to try to move quickly with this, and try to keep him in the fold. He wanted to be part of what we were doing. That's why we were excited to get him done."

Arbitration-eligible: RHP Tom Koehler, RHP David Phelps, RHP A.J. Ramos, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, OF Marcell Ozuna, INF Derek Dietrich.

Free agents: RHP Andrew Cashner, LHP Mike Dunn, RHP Fernando Rodney, C Jeff Mathis, INF Chris Johnson, OF Jeff Francoeur, RHP Dustin McGowan.

Biggest potential free-agency loss: The Marlins gave up a lot to acquire Cashner from the Padres in late July. They parted with right-handers Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps, plus first-base prospect Josh Naylor. At the time, Miami knew Cashner was going to be a rental. The club is now prepared to move in another direction.

Potential free-agent targets: Starting pitching is at the top of the Marlins' list, and the club will also likely look for bullpen depth, especially left-handed relievers. Rich Hill and Jeremy Hellickson are among the top free-agent starters, and Miami is likely to monitor their respective markets. Doug Fister and Ivan Nova may be more realistic.

The Marlins may also make a big push for either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, the top free-agent closers.

Wild-card scenario: Retaining most of their core position players is an objective. But to land a starting pitcher, the Marlins may also look at trading one of their regulars. Ozuna, Hechavarria and maybe Dietrich are trade candidates. Basically, only center fielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto are regarded as untouchable. Giancarlo Stanton isn't likely to be shopped, but because of the nature of the Hot Stove season, anything is possible. Don't be surprised if Stanton is the subject of trade rumors, even if nothing materializes.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.