Do you know when the Marlins are going to pick in the First-Year Player Draft, and who do you think they may take?
-- Michael G., Doral, Fla.
For finishing 62-100 last season, the Marlins earned themselves the second overall selection at the First-Year Player Draft in June. The Astros hold the No. 1 pick.
Barring something unforeseen, Houston will take Carlos Rodon, the sensational lefty from North Carolina State. He is special. If the Marlins possessed the top pick, Rodon would be their probable choice as well.
Even if Miami doesn't get a shot at Rodon, the club is in a prime position to add a future star. According to some mock drafts, East Carolina right-hander Jeff Hoffman is a strong candidate to go second overall.
I'm not so sure the Marlins are leaning that way, but I do anticipate they will go for a pitcher. Keep an eye on prep standout Tyler Kolek from Texas. Kolek is 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, and his fastball has already reached 100 mph. In terms of pure power, he may have the top fastball in the Draft class.
Even though Kolek is in high school, we're seeing more young pitchers make rapid rises to the big leagues. Jose Fernandez made his Major League debut last season at the age of 20, two years after he was a first-round pick out of high school.
It's understandable why Miami covets pitching so much. The cost of top-end starters continues to rise. We're seeing it more and more with free-agent signings, as well as the return sought in trades for a proven arm.
The Marlins' best chance for long-term success is staying as pitching-rich as possible. In two more years, Fernandez will be arbitration-eligible, and his salary demands will escalate in a hurry. So having as much depth as possible is essential.
Miami already has some high-end pitching prospects, and I expect the Marlins to get deeper through the 2014 Draft.
A few months ago, it was mentioned that the Marlins were thinking about using two hitting coaches. Where does that stand? What do you think about Andre Dawson stepping into this capacity?
-- Gary R., Rochester, N.Y.
The idea of a second hitting instructor has been put on hold, at least for 2014. The timing, the club felt, wasn't right to make the move. Frank Menechino, formerly in the Yankees system, is the new hitting coach. Ideally, you'd like a new coach to have input into who gets such a job. After all, the two would be working closely together, and it is important that they are on the same page in ideas and how to work off each other.
As for asking Dawson to consider such a post, Hall of Famers don't necessarily fit the profile. Hawk's role as a special assistant already gives him the authority to offer input if he is asked or he feels he could approach a player about something he sees. In addition, Hawk is valuable to the organization for his ability to visit players at the various Minor League levels. His expertise ranges far beyond just hitting.
You may recall that in 2009, when the Marlins switched Chris Coghlan from the infield to left field, it was Dawson, a former Gold Glove outfielder, who went to Triple-A New Orleans to assist in the transition. He did the same thing a year later, when Logan Morrison moved from first base to left field.
At Spring Training, Dawson regularly assists in outfield drills.
Is there any chance the Marlins bring Coghlan back? How about Dan Uggla?
-- Jack R., Miami
The Marlins non-tendered Coghlan, 28, in December, making him a free agent, but said at the time that they would consider bringing him back. The question was whether he was amenable to signing a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
The Marlins also are bringing in outfielder Joe Benson on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Thus there no longer seems to be a fit for Coghlan with Miami.
Regarding Uggla, the Marlins have signed free agent Rafael Furcal to play second base. Trading with Atlanta to bring back Uggla was never a serious option.
What is the reason for the one-year signings of Furcal and Casey McGehee, and the two-year signing of Garrett Jones? Is this to give some of our prospects more time to develop? Is there a chance the Marlins may re-sign any or all of these three after 2014?
-- Derek K., Davie, Fla.
After the Pirates made it clear that they did not plan to retain the veteran Jones, he became a free agent, and the Marlins signed him for two years at $7.75 million total. Why two years? The Marlins used the second year in a low-risk contract to secure the signing. Jones, 32, gets some security, and Miami adds a cost-effective left-handed power bat.
Whether Jones is with the Marlins in 2015 or not, he will make $5 million. In the eyes of the organization, it was a wise investment for a player who has hit more than 20 homers three times in his career.
Furcal, 36, missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He will make $3.5 million. Furcal was looking for another opportunity, and Miami was searching for an established veteran to play second base. Whether he fits into the 2015 plans, who knows? It is clearly a wait-and-see situation.
Like Furcal, McGehee has something to prove. He signed for $1.1 million, again a comparatively low-risk signing for a player who has had a 20-homer season. McGehee spent last year in Japan, and the Marlins felt he was a good fit for third base.
Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in 2013, is regarded as the organization's third baseman of the future.
I am OK with the Marlins' offseason moves so far, except for Jones. He struggles against lefties and has been an average platoon player his whole career. A much better acquisition would have been Kendrys Morales, who has a proven track record and is only 30. I think the Marlins could have had him for three years at $18 million. For a few more millions, I think they lost a great opportunity.
-- Peter S., West Kendall, Fla.
Morales is represented by Scott Boras, and I am not sure an offer of three years and $18 million in early December would have gotten the deal done. I mention December because that is when Jones signed. Morales still is on the market.
But let's take money out of the equation. There is the issue of defense. Morales was used mostly as a designated hitter last season in Seattle. Jones is a first baseman, and he could play right field if necessary. So he is more versatile. In terms of durability, Jones has the more proven track record. You are correct that Jones hasn't hit lefties well, but he will be given a chance to improve in that area. If he can't, he will be platooned at some point this year.
Teams such as the Marlins look for deals that make sense. As much as you are right about Morales' strong numbers, signing him for three years is a bigger risk than adding Jones for two.