If no trades are made, can you see Doug Fister being a free-agent fit? He's familiar with the division and could be a low-risk, one-year deal.
-- @DustinLindbom via Twitter
Fister indeed could be a nice fit, and he should be a realistic option. The 32-year-old is coming off a year in which he made 32 starts and logged 180 1/3 innings with the Astros. The Marlins are looking for starters with a track record for compiling innings. Fister just made $7 million in 2016, and I'd expect his price tag to be about $10 million for next season. Andrew Cashner, who the Marlins didn't attempt to sign, just landed with the Rangers for one-year, $10 million, and Fister was more reliable in '16.
A sinker-ball pitcher, Fister had a 45.3 ground-ball percentage this year. Starting half of his games at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park could help entice Fister to Miami, as could having one of the game's best defensive infields behind him. Ultimately, Fister would have to buy into what the Marlins are offering in terms of salary and the culture manager Don Mattingly is creating.
In my opinion, no, it doesn't make sense. Let's take Marcell Ozuna's situation. He's entering his first year of arbitration and isn't eligible for free agency until 2020. So he is highly affordable right now. Fans can speculate that Ozuna should be traded and replaced by a free agent like Dexter Fowler. But to acquire Fowler will come at a high cost, at least $10 million a season.
Before you sign a big-ticket free-agent outfielder to a multiyear deal, you also have to consider what the payroll might look like in 2018. Giancarlo Stanton's salary rises to $25 million in '18, and Christian Yelich's goes to $7 million. So you could be looking at, say, $10 million for Fowler. That's $42 million in 2018 on your outfield alone. Even if the payroll is $100 million, that's a high percentage to spend on three players. So I don't see it. If Ozuna is traded, I could see the Marlins going for one-year options like bringing back Jeff Francoeur and platooning with Ichiro Suzuki over someone like Fowler.
@JoeFrisaro what do you think the Marlins have to do to solidify the rotation?
You're asking the most pressing question that confronts the organization, and we haven't seen many clues on what will come next. The Winter Meetings in a few weeks will likely give a better indication. Since you posed the question in terms of what I would do, in my opinion, I'd consider free agents and be really reluctant to deal any of the core position players off the big league roster. If you deal, say, Ozuna, then you create a need in the outfield. There is already a shortage of organizational depth, and at some point, it may be inevitable the organization breaks this current roster down and rebuilds. I don't think that happens right now, especially with the 2017 All-Star Game at Marlins Park.
So, if the commitment is to the core, then hold it together, and if they can add someone like Fister, go that way. I'd also pour resources into the bullpen. If they can get Fister and Kenley Jansen to close, to me, that would be a successful offseason.
I've read a lot recently about third-base prospect Brian Anderson. I hadn't heard much about him before. Could he be a realistic replacement for Martin Prado some day?
-- Austin M., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Anderson, Miami's fourth-rated prospect, was recently named by MLBPipeline.com to the All-Arizona Fall League Team. Anderson paced the AFL with five home runs, and added a sixth in the title game, won by his Mesa team. The 23-year-old was a third-round pick from the University of Arkansas in 2014. He matched his career high with 11 home runs in 2016, starting the year with Class A Advanced Jupiter before being promoted to Double-A Jacksonville. From what I've gathered, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder is developing to the point that he may be a solid MLB regular. If that is the case, Anderson appears to be tracking to eventually replace Prado, who signed a three-year, $40 million extension in early October.
Have the Marlins been in contact with the Rays about pitching? Is there any offer the Rays could make to entice the Marlins to give up any of these three -- Ozuna, Yelich or J.T. Realmuto?
-- Michael B., Odessa, Fla.
We've already addressed Ozuna. The Rays do have desirable pitching like Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi. Like any club with high-end starters, the cost to obtain is high. For Archer, it would likely require a couple of players off the big league roster. The Marlins may wind up dealing Ozuna, but two players that are untouchable are Yelich and Realmuto. Even if the club opts to deal from its core, Yelich and Realmuto are not expected to be moved. They are two cornerstones of the franchise.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com 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.