As Marlins finalize sale, questions abound

As Marlins finalize sale, questions abound

MIAMI -- For the final time in 2017, the Marlins players embraced and wished each other well as they prepared for what promises to be an offseason of uncertainty.

On Sunday, the Marlins lost, 8-5, to the Braves at Marlins Park, wrapping up a disappointing 77-85 season that featured some tremendous individual achievements. What's next is unclear.

"It was different than last year, because it felt like there was a lot of uncertainty and more goodbyes," manager Don Mattingly said. "We don't know what's going to happen."

The Marlins are finalizing their sale from Jeffrey Loria to the new ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter.

"Obviously, everything is going to be different in some way moving forward," Mattingly said. "You're looking forward to that, you just don't know what that is. I'm sure the new group, once it is in place, will hit the ground running."

Some of the most immediate issues to be addressed are:

Mattingly's status as manager

Mattingly is under contract for two more seasons, and there is a sense Mattingly will return for his third year. There's just no official word yet. If Mattingly is back, that likely means so will much of his staff. Third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez is drawing interest for at least one managerial job. The Tigers, and perhaps other clubs, have already asked for permission to speak with Gonzalez, who previously managed the Braves and Marlins.

Filling front-office positions

President of baseball operations Michael Hill, under contract through 2020, is likely to return in a front-office spot, perhaps even the same role. However, Gary Denbo, the Yankees vice president of baseball development, is a candidate for a top front-office post in Miami.

Keep the core or rebuild?

At least some turnover of players occurs every offseason, but the sense is that the Marlins may make sweeping changes after their eighth straight losing season.

Until the direction for 2018 is given, much of this is speculation. But the players sense change is coming.

"I've been through a lot of uncertainty already," All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton said. "This is a different type, and one I can have a little more say in, actually.

"But, in terms of uncertainty with my teammates, it's a little frustrating. ... At the same time, you don't know who you're going to be with, and how that's going to work."

Stanton, who led the Majors in home runs (59) and RBIs (132), has a full no-trade clause, so he can control his own destiny. But that doesn't mean outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and other core players won't be dealt.

"It's also a business, too," Stanton said. "We've got to figure out what's going to be best to win."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.