Assessing 2023 MLB front offices: Kim Ng and the Miami Marlins were solid before breaking up

Kim Ng is no longer the GM of the Miami Marlins, but her impact on the success of the 2023 season can't be denied.
 Miami Marlins owner Bruce Sherman (left) and general manager Kim Ng.
Miami Marlins owner Bruce Sherman (left) and general manager Kim Ng. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Ng front office WAA impact for Miami Marlins: +2.8 games. Rank in MLB: 10. Rank in division: 3.

In her third season as Marlins chief baseball executive, Kim Ng assumed a place among the game’s front office elite.

Not only did she structure a Miami team that qualified for postseason play for only the fourth time in franchise history, but her various moves and transactions added +2.8 games of value to that team.

That’s noteworthy because the Marlins qualified for that postseason position by the slimmest of margins, just one game. Statistically, that made Ng one of only four MLB chief execs in 2023 to effectively maneuver their club into a playoff position.

In the wake of that success, Ng this week announced her decision to resign her Marlins' position after just those three seasons. In doing so, she cited "philosophical differences" with Marlins owner Bruce Sherman. Translation: Ng wanted to spend more money on the Marlins than Sherman was willing to spend.

The presumption is that Ng will be a leading candidate for one of the available front office jobs, potentially in Queens under David Stearns or in Boston, where president Chaim Bloom was fired. But she could also sit out a season or two and wait for long-time Yankee GM Brian Cashman to finally retire.

As with the Twins, Ng’s cohort in the offseason’s biggest trade, the Luis Arraez deal is an appropriate place to begin to analyze the effectiveness that brought her to this position.

In the simple statistical terms, the deal was a win for Ng and her Marlins. Arraez added the 2023 NL batting title to his 2022 AL title and ran up a +2.9 Wins Above Average in doing so. Pablo Lopez, the pitcher sent to Minnesota as a lure for Arraez, was worth +1.6 WAA.

WAA is used in this series of front office evaluations because it is a zero-based version of WAR, therefore enabling valid approximations of impact against wins and losses.

But also as with the Twins, taking the true impact of the trade requires examining the ripple effects. In Miami’s case, the biggest ripple was the rotation spot opened by the departure of Lopez, who had made 32 starts for the Marlins in 2022.

The bulk of those starts went to May callup Eury Perez, who made 19 of them for a 3.15 ERA. That indirectly added +1.7 WAA to the deal’s impact.

Overall, Ng made 41 moves involving major league talent since the conclusion of the 2022 postseason. The value of those moves split almost exactly evenly; 19 positive, 20 negative and two neutral. The net WAA of those 41 personnel moves amounted to +2.8 games.

Arraez and Perez were the statistical highlights of Ng’s 2023 work, but reliever Alexander Nardi wasn’t far behind. In 63 appearances, all of them out of the bullpen, Nardi piled up an  8-1 record with a 2.67 ERA, good for +1.3 WAA. He and Perez were the two principal reasons why Ng’s overall score for her rookie promotions reached +2.6 WAA.

In all of MLB, only the Twins, Orioles, Phillies and Reds had better first-year production.

Here’s the full short-term and long-term statistical profile on the 2023 performance of the Ng front office. Again, all figures reflect group Wins Above Average.

Acquired by trade, waiver claim or purchase:

  • Since October 2022, 15 players, +0.7 net impact
  • Prior to October 2022, 6 players, +1.8 net impact

Signed as a free agent or extended for multiple seasons:

  • Since October 2022, 11 players, -6.2 net impact
  • Prior to October 2022, 4 players, -0.6 net impact

System products:

  • Since October 2022, 5 players, +2.6 net impact
  • Prior to October 2022, 7 players, +1.0 net impact

Traded away, waived, sold, released or lost to free agency:

  • Since October 2022, 10 players, +0.8 net impact
  • Prior to October 2022, 16 players, +6.4 net impact

As solid as Ng’s 2023 season was, there were hitches ... and those hitches inevitably arose when the small-market Marlins attempted to compete for available veteran on the free agent market.

Two in particular stand out.

In January, Ng gave $25 million spread out through 2025 for veteran infielder Jean Segura, who had been released two months earlier by the Phillies. Segura was awful in Miami, batting just .219 with a -3.0 WAA before the Guardians took Segura off Miami’s hands in a deadline deal for Josh Bell.

Two months later, Ng signed free agent Yuli Gurriel for one year at $1.25 million. The former AL batting champ with Houston hit .244 with no power, resulting in a -1.6 WAA.

The Marlins survived those two signings, but Ng’s rating still took a six-place hit. Absent those clunkers with their combined -4.6 WAA impact, Ng would have ranked fourth, not her present 10th, on the 2023 front office list.