Organizational Rankings: #22 – Florida

If there’s one thing the Marlins have been known for throughout their history, it has been for being a player development factory. They have constantly replenished their big league roster with new talent from the farm and served as a pipeline for getting talented players into the major leagues. Unfortunately, if there’s another thing the Marlins have been known for, it’s been trading those players as soon as they reach arbitration eligibility, as the team has operated on a shoestring budget that hasn’t let them keep players beyond their cost controlled years.

After years of operating this way, the players union finally complained to Major League Baseball, and the league actually forced the Marlins to spend the revenue sharing money they’ve been pocketing for years. The result? Dan Uggla is still a Marlin, and Josh Johnson has a new, long-term contract that not only bought out two arbitration years but two years of free agency, as well. For once, the Marlins did not hold a fire sale during the winter. Okay, they traded Jeremy Hermida and Matt Lindstrom, but those two are hardly irreplaceable. The core of the team remained mostly in tact, which is new for Florida, at least.

With Hanley Ramirez and now Josh Johnson locked up for a while, along with some promising rookies and one of the most impressive prospects in the game, the Marlins have the beginnings of a good team. The question, as always, is payroll. Even with the new money spent this winter, the team simply doesn’t have the type of financial flexibility needed to fill out a roster well enough to really contend. They’ve spent just over $40 million on the current team, which isn’t enough unless you’re building around a legendary core of homegrown talent. The Marlins aren’t.

So, despite their strengths in player development, and the talent on the roster that is good enough to keep them from being terrible, the Marlins aren’t really contenders. They’re a player development machine that can put together teams that play respectable baseball without costing much money, but unless the agreement with the player’s union leads to a significant expansion of the payroll, they’re going to remain a quality also ran.

It’s too bad, too, because there are some good baseball people doing good things in Florida. But the lack of investment in the team significantly limits their upside. It’s a good step that they didn’t tear the team apart this winter, but until they actively start adding pieces to help the team take the next step, it’s tough to see their organizational blueprint as one that any teams should want to follow.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

9 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #22 – Florida”

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  1. Michael says:

    I’d have a hard time disagreeing with you, Dave. It is frustrating how close the Marlins have been and still probably are to contention, and how fans like myself and that one guy Matt saw in Arizona are forced to watch as the front office accepts average baseball at pathetically low salaries.

    The hope is that the new stadium will bump payroll enough for the Marlins to be competitive. If the team could spend $60-$70M a season, I feel like they are shrewd enough to make solid free agent signings to improve the team.

    With MLB on their back about payroll, I have a feeling like one or two long-term signings will happen soon. The next target should and will be Ricky Nolasco, who I think will earn a 3-year deal if he impresses this season. At the very least, these are steps in the right direction.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Yeah, I agree, steps are being made. I was much nicer to them this year than last year, for instance, and I feel like a #22 rating gives them credit for some of the steps they’ve made. They just have to make more.

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    • Omar says:

      Really…the Marlins, Tigers, Giants, and White Sox are further away from a chip than the Reds? I know the Reds have some good talent to start off with and I like Jocketty…but, I really feel that each of those teams have a few superstars and with the exception of the Marlins money to spend.

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      • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

        You like Jocketty? Really? The Rolen trade doesn’t look as bad now with the restructuring of his deal, and the Chapman signing was really good, but keeping and IIRC hiring Dusty was an awful move. I could be wrong on which GM hired him though.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Votto, Bruce, Volquez, Cueto, Bailey, Alonzo are all better building blocks than what the Marlins have got IMO (collectively, not each individual) and the Reds get to spend their money, while the Marlins don’t really get to as much. I’m not sure being behind them on this list means they are further away from a championship, I just think it means the Reds are FINALLY going on the right direction, while the Marlins are always just stuck in the middle of the pack.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Chapman too, forgot about him.

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      • Ivdown says:

        Also Brandon Phillips, lol.

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      • Michael says:


        No offense, and this may be the homer in me, but I’d take Ramirez, Johnson, Nolasco (I’m presuming they’ll eventually sign him, there is discussion of this), Stanton, Maybin, and Morrison over the players you mentioned. That list is top-heavy (we don’t really know what we’ll get out of the last three), but the top 3 IMO are better than the best three of that list by a decent margin. Of course, this is all opinion, and the team control time the Reds have is probably better. And I’m a Marlins fan through and through, so you’d figure I’d say something like that.

        I do love what the Reds have though. They’ll contend for that division this decade.

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  2. hamandcheese says:

    I can’t help but think that the new stadium will work wonders for the Marlins.

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