The Jazz Problem
Primarily, the Miami Marlins’ Jazz problem boils down to value. What is Chisholm and what he brings to the table worth, both to the Marlins and to other clubs? He has the personality and marketability of a superstar. In almost every game he has played since the 2020 season, he has been the most exciting, fun to watch player on the field. Because, potentially, he can do it all. Not many players are just as much of a threat to steal third base as they are to hit a home run into the upper deck. Chisholm is one them.
Unfortunately, being on that field has proven elusive for Chisholm in every season of his career. Since Opening Day 2022, the Marlins have played more games without him than with him. While it might not be one of the traditional five tools, health is a skill, and it’s really starting to look like Chisholm doesn’t have it. That makes him a very dicey proposition for any MLB team to make a long-term investment in, and particularly for one with Miami’s payroll constraints.
More importantly, as a result of all that missed time, it’s still fair to ask exactly what Jazz Chisholm is as a player. Is he the player that made the All-Star team in 2022 and was on pace for a 30-30 season? Or is he what his career average suggests — numbers he’s essentially mirrored for all of 2023? Even without this season’s position change, a compelling case can be made that he’s an unfinished product. One that will keep improving, and has not yet reached his peak. Then again, the sample size is getting bigger by the game. This could be it for him. Which would still make him a valuable player to be sure … but not necessarily one you offer a seven-year contract to.
This reality is the biggest tragedy of the past two seasons. Why? Because the Miami Marlins really can’t say for certain what the answer is here. Chisholm has the charisma and spirit of a top 5 player in the game … all while having a season where he’s barely been a top 5 player on his team.
It’s a problem that must be answered, and one that keeps coming back to cost.
In terms of financial cost, it would be easy to think that there could be some good news here. Maybe after two injury-plagued seasons, Chisholm pounces on the financial security, and takes a five year extension similar to what Sandy Alcantara signed in the 2021 offseason. The thing is, Chisholm is never signing that deal. Part of the Chisholm package is his confidence in himself. The same drive that fuels his aggressive style of play (and leads to some of those injuries) is the same drive that led him to tweet out “9.0 WAR” at the start of the season. More than likely, he’ll bet on himself until he reaches free agency, or is given a deal way above market value.
Yet the cost issue runs deeper than financials. If Chisholm is a superstar, then the Marlins don’t need to trade for a superstar. They don’t need to blow up their farm, moving the last of their top end pitching prospects this offseason to secure another All-Star. Just this offseason, that was probably part of the calculus. Build around Jazz. Jazz is coming back. Make no mistake, the star already being on the team is the best case scenario for Miami. But if Chisholm isn’t that superstar … it could well be that the best team the Marlins are capable of putting on the field in 2024 and 2025 is one that doesn’t have Chisholm on the roster.