For at least a few days, and hopefully a few weeks, all that matters is the present for the Miami Marlins.
Back in the playoffs for the first time in a real season since 2003, it's a moment that deserves to be savored by fans of this much maligned Marlins franchise. Yes, 2020 was fun, and does technically count. Still, this playoff berth comes entirely asterisk-free, feeling eminently earned. Everyone remotely connected to organization, from employee to player to fan, would be wise to take a moment to appreciate how truly special this is.
Alright, that's enough of that. On to 2024.
It obviously goes without saying that how these playoffs play out will speak volumes about how the Marlins organization opts to approach the coming offseason. Strong postseason performances will either cement regular season perceptions of the stars that got them to this point or, in some cases, burnish the records of players who underperformed. A deep playoff run could potentially unlock previously unseen levels of spending. More than likely though, it will be a somewhat early exit for Miami, but one that does nothing to dampen owner Bruce Sherman's enthusiasm for returning to the playoffs next season and building on this exciting core Kim Ng and Skip Schumaker have put together.
However, doing that will be easier said than done.
It's a pretty thin free agent market across the board, certainly compared to the last few years and particularly so at catcher and short- the positions where the Marlins are weakest. Unicorn Shohei Ohtani is available, yes, but he's not coming to Miami unless he's the world's biggest Lionel Messi fan and Sherman gives him a massive ownership stake. The market drops off significantly after him, and while any of the top names would make the Marlins better, it needs to be said again that none of those names clearly fill a need on the 26-man roster. That matters for a team with limited financial and prospect resources. Then again, this is all referring to the 26-man roster that will be taking the field this week. Once the offseason starts, that number of holes could actually double.
That being the case, it is going to take a creative mix of both more payroll and trades to put the 2024 Miami Marlins together if their goal is to win more games than the 2023 model.
Fortunately, the answers to how they will accomplish that will start to become clear as soon as this week. Starting with...