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Energized Marlins ready to embark on uphill climb

Club anticipates more moves to ensure depth, with steady improvement the goal

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MIAMI -- The major moves may be completed, but the Marlins will continue exploring additional personnel pieces up until the start of Spring Training.

Even then, they likely won't be done shopping.

"Certainly, you're looking at some potential non-roster invites," Marlins president David Samson said. "We're looking to bring people in to compete, because you just don't know. What we've learned over the years is you have injuries. The more depth you can have going into a camp, the better it is."

That's why Miami recently signed veteran Ty Wigginton to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Wigginton enters the mix at third base and first base without the guarantee of a roster spot.

Outfielder Reed Johnson was added in similar fashion Friday, inking a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp, bringing the Marlins' non-roster invitees total to 26.

The Marlins also are looking for perhaps another reliever or two.

It's already been a busy offseason for Miami, which made four significant free-agent signings in December -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (catcher), Garrett Jones (first base), Rafael Furcal (second base) and Casey McGehee (third base).

A year ago, the Marlins featured one of the youngest teams in the Majors. Along with being inexperienced, they endured a number of injuries, especially early in the season.

Overall, it was a rough 2013, as Miami finished 62-100.

Along with changes on the field, the front office has also gone through some changes. Larry Beinfest was dismissed at the end of the 2013 season, and Michael Hill took over as president of baseball operations. The reshuffling included Dan Jennings being promoted to general manager.

The organization also brought in three respected talent evaluators in Mike Berger (assistant GM), Craig Weissmann (vice president of player personnel) and Jeff McAvoy (director of pro scouting).

The changes have brought renewed enthusiasm within the front office.

"What I've seen is a great process," Samson said. "They got together and talked about an idea of what they wanted to do. Then, they went out and did it.

"From my standpoint, there is a lot of excitement in the office. It feels like both the baseball side and the business side are both picking up at the same time. You're trying to get them in sync as best as possible."

Spring Training starts with pitchers and catchers workouts on Feb. 16 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 20.

Coming off the second-worst season in club history, the Marlins are seeking steady improvement.

"For me, our fans should realize that we have a team that will be fun to watch, and we should win more games than last year," Samson said. "Teams are either going up or going down, that's always been my view. Our team is on the upswing."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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