A total of five Marlins -- none of them surprises -- elected free agency today as the end of the World Series marked the start of the "Hot Stove League."
Chad Qualls, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Austin Kearns and Matt Diaz were among the 147 players putting their names in the free agent hopper on Thursday. With the exception of Qualls, it's doubtful the Marlins will attempt to re-sign any of them. And Qualls could very well be out of their price range (a number of teams expressed interest in the veteran reliever before the July 31 trade deadine, but the Marlins -- thinking he would help them avoid 100 losses -- held on to him. So much for that).
Teams can begin negotiating with free agents on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m.
The Marlins performed a bit of roster housecleaning on Thursday, exercising their club option on right-hander Jacob Turner for $1 million. Again, no surprise there. The Marlins also reinstated outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the 60-day disabled list. Their 40-man roster now stands at 32 players.
Samson promises Marlins won't lose 100 games next year, brings up playoff talk with team's young core
Marlins President David Samson, outspoken during most of his tenure with the Marlins, made himself pretty scarce to the media this past season. His weekly radio segment on the Dan LeBatard show disappeared and we hardly heard a peep from him as the Marlins spiraled past 100 losses.
He was around Thursday, though, as the Marlins and the American Athletic Conference announced the beginning of The Miami Beach Bowl and the return of college football in December 2014 to the site where the Orange Bowl once stood.
Samson's most interesting comments? After the press conference was over, when he promised the Marlins wouldn't lose 100 games next season and would be in the playoffs multiple times with the young core it now has led by Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich.
"I promise you this: We're not going to lose 100 games next year. Not close," Samson said. "Look what the Red Sox did. They had the same record we did in '12. They turned it around to be in the World Series in '13. Well, it's time for us to do the same. That's why we didn't book that big concert in October . Because why would we book something when we should be and will be playing playoff games?"
Samson, who is busy trying to keep Marlins Park busy and filled with events in the months the team isn't playing there, was told fans don't trust the Marlins to keep their young talented players around long enough and expect them to be traded away.
"I hear that, but it's just not true," he responded. "We had a great core together from '06 to '12 and we just couldn't make the playoffs. It wasn't great enough. Now, we've rebooted, started again and we've got this core and we're going to be together for a lot of years. A lot of years. Giancarlo, Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, the list goes on and on. Go back to the '06 core, from Hanley to Uggla to our starting rotation, we were together the whole time. So that's not exactly right as you know. With our new core, I expect to we'll have several appearances as one of 10 [playoff] teams."
Samson never addressed the firing of former President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest. He finally did Thursday.
"Obviously the changes that were made at the end of the season were unfortunate. I've worked with Larry for 14 years. Every minute I've been in baseball has been with him. I respect every decision that's made by the ownership and the fact of the matter is we're all paid to win games. And the last few years we have not won enough games," Samson said.
"Do I lay it all on Larry? No of course not. But I lay it on all of us. What I hope our fans are realizing they don't have to worry about a ballpark anymore because we have one. They don't have to worry about the Marlins ever relocating or anything like that because we're here to stay. Now we have to worry about winning more games.
"Mike Hill and Dan Jennings are really tremendous heads to the baseball organization. They're going to really work well together to help us win. And if our fans were with us in the second half of the season -- which I know they were -- they saw some talent. I can't wait to start spring training. We start spring training in the middle of February. We're starting the minute we can get on the field. I think you're going to see us on the field February 16th because we want to get out there and get going. We have some very cool things for spring training, some very cool things were going to have. But what's better is we're getting ready for a new season and we're going to win more."
> Samson said the Marlins will be wearing red-orange caps for next season, the team's No. 1-selling cap. The Marlins didn't wear those caps at all in 2013 and only for a few games in 2012.
> Have the Marlins reached out or had serious discussions with UM or FIU about hosting football games at Marlins Park? "None that are worthy of mention at the moment," Samson said.
> What other events besides soccer and football could Marlins Park end up hosting? Sounds like March Madness could be the next big thing.
"NCAA basketball is something we're talking about, first and second round," Samson said. "It would be really cool the way it looks. You wouldn't have to drape anything off and the capacity is perfect for such an event so stay tuned."
> With the FBI in search of a serial bank robber in the northeast who has been wearing a black Marlins cap during his heists, Samson was asked for his take on the matter: "We'd be happy to give him a job if he would just stop robbing banks."
Let the postseason hardware haul begin for Jose Fernandez. The Sporting News has named the 21-year-old Marlins pitcher its National League Rookie of the Year.
And "it wasn't even close," according to the Sporting News, which had players vote for the award.
Fernandez received 64 votes, Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers received four, and St. Louis’s Shelby Miller received two, as did Atlanta teammates Evan Gattis and Julio Teheran, according to TSN.
Fernandez becomes the fourth Marlin to win TSN's ROY honors, joining Dan Uggla (2006), Dontrelle Willis (2003) and Preston Wilson (1999). (Note: The publication divided up the award for many years, giving it to both a top pitcher and position player in each league. Willis was top rookie pitcher while Wilson was top position player their respective years.)
The Sporting News doesn't always mirror the BBWAA awards, which are announced in November. Uggla, for example, received the top rookie nod from the Sporting News in '06 (Wikipedia has it wrong), the same year the BBWAA bestowed the honor on Hanley Ramirez. And in 2009, the Sporting News and the BBWAA also differed, with Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ receiving the award from the publication while the writers' group went with Chris Coghlan.
Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays was named the Sporting News' American League ROY, making it an all-Florida thing.
You can check out all previous ROY winners from the Sporting News' here.
The rest of the coaching staff will remain the same.
Butler, 57, hit .290 over a 17-year big-league career with the Braves, Dodgers, Indians, Giants and Mets.
Butler began his coaching career in 1998. Last season, Butler managed the Triple A Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks) to the Pacific Coast League title.
An exceptional bunter during his playing days, Butler will also be placed in charge of the Marlins outfielders.
"He fills so many boxes," said Marlins general manager Dan Jennings. "This guy, No. 1, his pedigree and what he did as a Major League player for 17 years. He made his name in the game being a bunting, base running and outfield guy. He perfect those things, and did them extremely well. He is a guy we know him, we've seen his work in Double-A and Triple-A. We've talked to a lot of people who have been around him, and a lot of glowing reports of who he is and how he works with players. His expertise is something that should be beneficial to our players."
Menechino, 42, is a former major league infielder with the A's and Blue Jays. He becomes the fifth different hitting coach for the Marlins since Jim Presley was fired in 2010.
Menechino has been hitting coach for the New York Yankees' Double A and Triple A teams.
"He has great energy and a passion for hitting," Jennings said. "Very knowledgeable in terms of his thoughts and beliefs on what he looks for."
Butler was hired to replace Joe Espada, who was reassigned to manage Single A Jupiter.
"Brett and Frank bring a wealth of experience and knowledge from their years as players and coaches," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. "Coupled with our returning staff, we feel we have a tremendous mix of knowledgeable baseball men who will make our team better. "
The Diamondbacks snatched Sanabia while the Angels acquired Wall.
While Wall was obtained from the Dodgers in the Ricky Nolasco trade in July and never pitched for the Marlins, Sanabia appeared in 28 games -- 24 of them starts -- in parts of three seasons, going 8-10 with a 4.15 ERA.
Sanabia made 10 starts this season (3-7, 4.88) for the Marlins before a groin injury in late May landed him on the disabled list, where he spent the remainder of the season. Due to shoulder injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez in spring training, along with Jacob Turner's spring training struggles that landed him in Triple A, Sanabia started the season in the Marlins rotation.
Wall -- along with Steven Ames and Angel Sanchez -- was one of three pitching prospects the Marlins received from the Dodgers in the Nolasco trade. A former second-round draft pick for the Dodgers, Wall went 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 20 relief appearances at Triple A New Orleans after coming over in the trade.
With the Rays punching their playoff ticket by taking out Texas in Monday's tiebreaker, three of the five teams with the lowest payrolls -- Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Oakland -- defied the odds to reach October while the biggest spender, the New York Yankees, are watching from home.
Then again, it can also be said that the teams with the two lowest Opening Day payrolls in the majors -- the Marlins and Astros -- got what they paid for and ended up with the two worst records. Each lost at least 100 games.
Here's a team-by-team look at Opening Day payrolls as compiled by the Associated Press (playoff teams in bold):
- New York Yankees — $228,995,945
- Los Angeles Dodgers — $216,302,909
- Philadelphia — $159,578,214
- Boston — $158,967,286
- Detroit — $149,046,844
- San Francisco — $142,180,333
- Los Angeles Angels — $142,165,250
- Texas — $127,197,575
- Chicago White Sox — $124,065,277
- Toronto — $118,244,039
- St. Louis — $116,702,085
- Washington — $112,431,770
- Cincinnati — $110,565,728
- Chicago Cubs — $104,150,726
- Baltimore — $91,793,333
- Milwaukee — $91,003,366
- Arizona — $90,158,500
- Atlanta — $89,288,193
- New York Mets — $88,877,033
- Seattle — $84,295,952
- Cleveland — $82,517,300
- Kansas City — $80,491,725
- Minnesota — $75,562,500
- Colorado — $75,449,071
- San Diego — $71,689,900
- Oakland — $68,577,000
- Pittsburgh — $66,289,524
- Tampa Bay — $57,030,272
- Miami — $39,621,900
- Houston — $24,328,538
The Marlins faced eight of the 10 playoff teams and performed about the way you'd expect, going 17-38 in those games: Atlanta (6-13), Tampa Bay (0-4), St. Louis (2-4), Pittsburgh (2-4), Cincinnati (1-6), Dodgers (2-5), Detroit (3-0) and Cleveland (1-2). They did not play Boston or Oakland.
Once again, the Marlins are in the market for a new hitting coach. John Pierson, who took over as hitting coach when Tino Martinez resigned, has been reassigned to the minors.
Hitting coach has been a high turnover job for the Marlins in recent years. After the departure of Jim Presley, who served as hitting coach from 2006-10, John Mallee, Eduardo Perez, Martinez and Pierson have spun through the turnstile.