One number on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker stands out above the rest. The Florida Marlins are the only team without any committed money to free agents on major league contracts this winter. They have added Seth McClung and Jose Veras on minor league contracts, but that’s the extent of their activity this offseason.
After an 87-75 year from a very young team, there was certainly room for optimism in the Marlins camp. Even with an 81-81 Pythagorean record and an 83-79 third order record, the Marlins appeared to be in position, with a few upgrades, to make a run at the postseason. Now, in February, the Marlins haven’t added a single player of note, and key bullpen piece Kiko Calero is a free agent and first baseman Nick Johnson has moved on to the Yankees.
Where does that leave the Marlins? That depends on which projection system you ask. PECOTA thinks the Marlins have a decent team, and at 82-80, that would leave them with a realistic, albeit small, chance at the postseason. CHONE and CAIRO, on the other hand, are not quite as optimistic. CHONE projects Florida for either 76 or 78 wins depending on which method you prefer, and CAIRO projects them for 79 wins and a measley 2.5 percent chance at reaching the playoffs.
It is not entirely surprising that the Marlins haven’t made any big moves. With the increases in player salary due to arbitration, in particular Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla, the Marlins’ salary stands at 34.75 million before minimum salary players, according to Cot’s Contracts. The team hasn’t eclipsed a 40 million dollar salary since 2005.
The Marlins are anywhere from 3 to 6 wins away from seriously competing for a playoff spot this summer. In the face of the MLB and players union demanding the team spend more money towards a possible playoff run, Jeffrey Loria has somehow managed to completely ignore the free agent market. Perhaps the Marlins simply couldn’t find the correct player to meet both their financial and competitive needs this winter. Regardless of why, the Marlins’ decision-making process will likely result in one fewer team in the NL East race come this summer.
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