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Miami Marlins 2024 outlook: Poised for yet another run to the MLB postseason

Miami Marlins
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins made the postseason last year with the new expanded playoffs, but were swept right out by the Philadelphia Phillies. Tradition still lives on in Miami, however. Every year they make it to the postseason and win a single playoff game, they end up winning the World Series. After an 84-78 season, the Marlins could have used 2023 as a launching point. Instead, they had their GM Kim Ng leave her post and the team didn’t do a whole lot this winter.

There is still speculation out there that Jesús Luzardo could be traded, and Sandy Alcantara is set to miss the season while recovering from Tommy John, but they’ll have a full season of Eury Pérez, A.J. Puk is going to be stretched out and potentially land in the rotation, and Sixto Sanchez is currently healthy and trying to make the club for the first time since 2020.

The Marlins sure have a lot of weapons they can throw at you on the pitching side. It’s the offense that could use a boost after ranking No. 26 in runs scored with 666 and No. 20 in wRC+ with a 94 (100 is league average). They still have two-time batting champion Luis Arráez, but he’s more of a table setter than a run producer.

The Marlins project to be in the thick of the wild card race yet again, so let’s take a look at some of the moves the club has made, take a look at where they stand as we near Opening Day, and give you one player to keep an eye on for the upcoming season.

Miami Marlins additions and subtractions

Miami Marlins
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins have had a pretty quiet winter overall. One thing we’ve been doing throughout these team previews is totaling all of the WAR that has departed the club via free agency, trades, and the waiver wire, and then adding up all of the projected WAR that team has added through new additions. The Marlins haven’t done the least, but the only teams behind them so far are the Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Angels, and San Diego Padres. The last two lost generational talents this winter in Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto, while the first two teams are expected to be among the league’s worst.

Miami has added a whopping 2.7 WAR this winter after the departures of Jorge Soler (1.9), David Robertson (1.2), and Garrett Hampson (0.7). The biggest bat the team added was backup catcher Christian Bethancourt, 32, who is projected for a 77 wRC+ but a nice defensive season behind the dish.

They also traded for Nick Gordon from the Minnesota Twins, and he’s a career .250 hitter with a .293 OBP. He also drew just one walk in 93 plate appearances last season. While he can make contact, his exit velocity has gone down each of the last three seasons, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs in his new home.

Two interesting additions the team made were bringing in Trey Mancini on a minor-league deal and trading for Jonah Bride from the A’s. Bride is a solid defender at third base, and if Jake Burger struggles with the bat, Bride could get some time at the hot corner. Mancini had the worst season of his career with the Chicago Cubs last season, but he’s an above average bat for his career, and if he’s right, he could be a nice upgrade for this club as a part-time bat in the outfield.

Miami Marlins 2024 outlook

Miami Marlins
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, losing Jorge Soler in free agency feels like a big blow to the offense since he was the club’s only player to hit more than 20 home runs last year (he hit 36). But the Miami Marlins’ thinking is likely that they acquired Jake Burger from the White Sox last season, and he has power potential and his batted ball metrics were near the top of the league last year. Burger ranked in the 98th percentile in barrel% and in the 91st in hard hit rate, which are two metrics that can tell you real quick what kind of contact he was making in 2023. The hope here is that he can do that over a full season in Miami.

On the other side of that coin, Burger hit a total of 34 home runs last season with the White Sox and Marlins over 540 plate appearances. Only nine of those dingers came with Miami in the final 53 games. The potential for Burger to serve as Soler’s replacement is there, but there have to be concerns about him replicating those power numbers in 2024.

The other key for this season will be having Jazz Chisholm Jr. on the field. After his breakout season in 2021, he has played in just 157 total games the past two seasons. The Marlins don’t have enough firepower on offense to overcome Chisholm missing an extended period this year. Chisholm is also projected to finish second on the club in home runs with 26.

The pitching staff figures to be really good once more, with Edward Cabrera projected to be their worst starter with a 4.27 ERA. That would have still be slightly better than league average last season.

Overall, the Marlins are one of those clubs that is slated to finish right around .500 and should find themselves right in the thick of the wild card hunt. With an extra bat or some luck, they could be playing postseason ball once again.

Miami Marlins player to watch in 2024

Miami Marlins
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins need a bat, but they also have one that is currently dragging them down in 32-year-old Avisail García. The Marlins signed García to a four-year, $53 million contract with a fifth year option before the 2022 season. So far, he hasn’t produced much for Miami, playing in 135 games in two seasons, while also being roughly 50% worse than league average when he is on the field.

Last year in 37 games he hit .185 with a .241 OBP, a 46 wRC+ (100 is league average), and struck out a career-high 33.1% of the time. He’s also the second highest-paid player on the Marlins and has two years left on his contract. While the $29 million left on his deal isn’t a huge sum of money in baseball terms, it’s a lot for Miami to just have on the books with nothing to show for it. That’s why García is a player to watch in 2024. Miami could really use the player they thought they were getting.

Heck, even if he’s 20% worse than league average that would be an upgrade from where he’s been. Right now he’s projected to be the team’s DH following the departure of Soler, and that may help keep him healthy. But if he continues not to produce at the plate, then that DH spot could have easily gone to a number of bats that are still on the free agent market that would produce more like Eddie Rosario or J.D. Martínez. Or, they could have pulled off a trade for someone like Brent Rooker of the A’s who is set to make the league minimum and swatted 30 homers in 2023.

If the Marlins want to stand out from the pack a bit in 2024, they may need some extra output from García.

Jason Burke covers MLB for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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