Editor’s note: Baseball is back and Yahoo Sports is previewing all 30 teams over the next month. This year’s previews will focus on fantasy and reality, as our MLB news staff and our fantasy baseball crew come together to assess each team before opening day. Next up, the Miami Marlins.
Barring anything crazy happening, the Miami Marlins are going to finish last in the NL East again. The Washington Nationals made moves this offseason, even if they don’t get Bryce Harper back. The Philadelphia Phillies got better. The New York Mets got better. So did the defending division champs, the Atlanta Braves.
Then there’s the Marlins, who traded their best player for the second straight offseason. Umm, yay? It was J.T. Realmuto this time, who is now with the Phillies.
The Marlins lost 98 games last year, most in the NL, and that could happen again considering the strength of their division. This year, we may at least start to see some of Miami’s retooling take shape, but that’s about it.
There might be more to gain in the fantasy realm, as the Marlins have a few young players worth paying attention to — namely Brian Anderson, Jorge Alfaro and perhaps even Victor Victor Mesa.
Miami’s offseason grade
On one hand, the Marlins didn’t do nearly enough to keep up with their friends in the NL East, all of whom had busy offseasons. On the other hand, the Marlins aren’t trying to win now.
This winter, the Marlins added affordable vets that can help them keep the ship afloat for another year (Curtis Granderson, Sergio Romo, Neil Walker) while bolstering their farm system. Their top two prospects — Sixto Sanchez and Victor Victor Mesa — weren’t in the organization at the end of last season.
Signing Mesa, a sought-after 22-year-old from Cuba, is one of their biggest offseason wins. Acquiring Sanchez and Jorge Alfaro, part of the return in the J.T. Realmuto trade, was another.
Our grade: C-: They did OK for what they’re trying to do, but they certainly could have fielded a better team for 2019. — Mike Oz
Marlins’ projected lineup and pitching staff
Who is Miami’s recommended fantasy buy?
Before we try to sell you on Brian Anderson, take a breath and appreciate just how fantasy-empty this roster is. No Marlins player has an NFBC ADP inside of 225, and only four players are in the Top 400. Nice job screwing over your fan base, Marlins.
Anderson had a useful debut as a 25-year-old — .273 average, 87 runs, 11 homers. You’d like to see the power develop, but in an extreme pitcher’s park like Marlins Park, that’s not projectable. The best things we can say about Anderson: he’ll be in a good lineup spot, he qualifies at both third base and the outfield, and he’s cheap (Yahoo ADP 241). That adds up to a reasonable piece for your mixed-league bench. - Scott Pianowski
What is Miami’s biggest fantasy question?
Jorge Alfaro came over in the Realmuto deal, and his two seasons in Philly add up to something useful (.270/.327/.422, 15 homers in 467 at-bats). Can he carry over most of that juice to South Florida? Probably not.
Philadelphia offers a power-friendly environment, while Miami’s stadium is a crusher for offense. Alfaro also has a date with the Regression Police, sitting on a career BABIP north of .400. He’ll probably play enough to chase double digits in home runs, but a batting average in the .230-.245 range is also likely, and this will probably be the lowest-scoring team in the majors. If you prefer to ignore every member of Miami’s offense, I’ll offer zero resistance. - Scott Pianowski
Marlins prospect to watch
Despite the team trading top talent the past two winters, this is still a farm system in progress. Sixto Sanchez — who was acquired in the J.T. Realmuto deal — has a chance to be a legitimate superstar, but has already dealt with arm injuries in his career. If he's healthy, he could move quickly, even though he's only 20.
Sandy Alcantara should see plenty of time in the majors in 2019. His 3.44 ERA was solid in his brief debut last season, but he needs to prove he can limit his walks in the majors. He also needs to prove his 20.6 percent strikeout rate was for real. He should get plenty of opportunities to do that this season. - Chris Cwik
Things that MUST go right for Miami
1. Young outfield hits stride: There will likely never be another outfield trio in Miami like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. As expected, their departures left a massive void in a Marlins lineup that went from the 11th highest scoring offense in 2017 to dead last. With J.T. Realmuto and Justin Bour now also gone, the pressure goes to upside outfielders Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison and Magneuris Sierra to pick up the slack. The latter two probably won't be factors early, but it will be another slow season for Miami's bats if they aren't contributing at some point.
2. Relievers step up: The Marlins couldn't hit in 2018. They also couldn't stop the bleeding with their bullpen. Miami's relievers posted an MLB-worst 5.34 bullpen ERA, which contributed immensely to their 98 losses. Miami did add veteran Sergio Romo. They also have the impressive, if not inconsistent, Drew Streckenrider. The foundation is decent, but they'll need some guys to step up.
3. Division comes back to Earth: This is not at all likely to happen, but it's the thing Miami needs most if it hopes to make an unexpected run at the postseason. The Phillies, Braves and Nationals all look like contenders, while the Mets seem to be on track to a potential .500 season. It doesn't set up to be a promising 2019 in Miami, but the Marlins are clearly looking beyond that. - Mark Townsend
If this team had a walk-up song, what would it be?
We’ve talked about a few Marlins offseason changes, but there are two others worth noting: They’ve unveiled new logos and uniforms. That might be the most exciting part of 2019 if we’re being honest.
So here’s their walk-up song: