Irrelevant Marlins making a splash

A cringeworthy article title, dare I say so myself.

The Miami Marlins are making all sorts of moves this offseason, although none of them look like they’ll turn the club into a respectable one, nor do I think its front office hopes they will. Signing shortstop Rafael Furcal and outfielder Garrett Jones to short-term contracts basically confirms they’re there to fill spots on the cheap, and essentially relegates both of them to fantasy irrelevancy. Signing catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia as the Marlins’ signal caller is interesting in a way I’m having trouble articulating other than just simply saying the word “interesting.” He’s young, he came off of a good year, and I figured another suitor would try to win him over. There. Lastly, they traded outfielders with the Cubs: Justin Ruggiano for Brian Bogusevic. I honestly don’t understand that one at all.

BUT! I’m guessing Ruggiano will go largely undrafted because of his pretty awful 2013. However, he is getting shipped to a better team, even if only a marginally better one, and he’s a legitimate 20-homer, 20-steal threat if he earns a starting role. He won’t hit .220 again, but he also won’t hit much better than .250, either. Still, he’s worth a late-round pick as long as Jorge Soler has not yet reared his talented head in the majors. Otherwise, Ruggiano will likely be benched in favor of Soler, Nate Schierholtz and Junior Lake.

Speaking of nautical things, I’ve intentionally overlooked the biggest offseason signing thus far.

SEA signs 2B Robinson Cano

… for a ridiculous sum of money the Mariners will almost certainly regret. I already expressed my disdain for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury‘s long-term contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cano simply mailed it in now that he got the contract he wanted (almost). However, the Mariners figure to be pretty decent, if not somewhat of a threat next year (not to be confused with a legitimate playoff threat, however). I’ll get to that in a bit. Meanwhile, people will probably try to tell you Cano’s production will drop off next year. Don’t listen to them; you probably listened to them when they told you outfielder Hunter Pence would be stifled in AT&T Park. The Yankees had one of their worst teams in a very long time, yet Cano still mashed for more than 100 RBI. He didn’t crack 100 runs for the first time in five years (he barely reached 80), and that could be a lingering side effect of moving to an arguably less productive team that is less capable of driving him in. But home runs and RBI can fluctuate pretty wildly from year to year, as there is still an element of luck involved with both, and I wouldn’t immediately dismiss Cano as a top-3 player at his position. If anything, I would seize the opportunity to get a premium positional power hitter at any type of discount.

Winner: Cano, even though he didn’t get $300 million
Preseason rank: Top-2 second baseman

SEA signs OF Corey Hart
The dude has been dealing with knee woes for the past year and a half, yet he still crushed 30 homers in 2012 at age 30. He’s entering his age 32 year, and after opting for surgery on both his knees, I understand, again, why one may dismiss a player like Hart. But he has averaged 24 home runs the past six years, and that includes time missed from injury. Yes, it is important to acknowledge that there is inherent injury risk here, but there could be a lot of hidden value here.

Winner: Both
Preseason rank: Top-50 outfielder — full rankings pending

Meanwhile, this is how the Mariners starting lineup appears to shape up:

C Mike Zunino
1B Jesus Montero (or Justin Smoak)
2B Cano
SS Brad Miller (assuming Nick Franklin gets traded now that Cano is here)
3B Kyle Seager
LF Dustin Ackley
CF [Logan Morrison — pending]
RF Hart

SP Felix Hernandez
SP Hisashi Iwakuma
SP Taijuan Walker
SP Danny Hultzen or James Paxton or Erasmo Ramirez

Their rotation boasts young talent reminiscent of the current Atlanta Braves rotation. Meanwhile, the infield looks awesome, assuming Montero can display the hitting prowess for which scouts hyped him. Clearly, Ackley is not a permanent solution in the outfield, and the Mariners need a legitimate center fielder with Franklin Gutierrez headed out. Point is, their team doesn’t look that bad. In fact, they could be a nice underdog pick early in the season in the realm of sports betting.

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