The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The Miami Marlins’ early 2024 struggles has been a long time coming

Examining the early 2024 MLB season for the Marlins and the cause of their struggles
The Marlins celebrate a walk-off win at home. (Photo from Sam Navarro/USA Today)

The Miami Marlins through 37 games are off to a dreadful start. Miami has the third-worst record in the league at 10-27. They are third last in OPS in the league at .626 and have the second-worst team ERA in baseball at 5.12. 

They also are tied for the most errors in the league at 29. The Marlins are without star pitcher Sandy Alcantara for the whole year and are missing some quality hitters.

On May 4, the Marlins decided to trade the two-time all-star and batting champion Luis Arráez to the San Diego Padres for a handful of prospects and agreed to pay off his contract to the minimum for the rest of the season.

General Manager Peter Bendix saw enough of this season and considered it a lost one. Arráez will go through one more season of arbitration before he hits the open market in 2026 and Bendix wanted to trade Arráez at his highest value instead of waiting until his walk year to deal him.

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If the Marlins think they can’t compete this year and thought this was an offer they couldn’t refuse, that’s fine. But, this should’ve never gotten to this point.

A factor that could play into the organizational approach is the arrival of Bendix. Bendix was the assistant to baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are known to keep a smaller payroll and develop their system players. The Marlins could be adopting this style of operation to grow home grown talent.

While it could be successful, the Marlins have struggled mightily to draft successful players in the league and haven’t been able to build off of their farm system.

The Miami Marlins, albeit in the powerhouse NL East, finished the 2023 season 84-78 and earned a third-place finish and a wild card berth. They would ultimately fall to the Philadelphia Phillies in two games in the wild card, but showed promise and made intriguing moves late in the season to make a playoff push.

To start the offseason, general manager Kim Ng who led the Marlins to the playoffs in a full season for the first time in over 20 years decided to decline her option to come back as the GM of the team. 

As reported by Tyler Kepner of the Athletic, principal owner Bruce Sherman had this to say about Ng’s departure: “In our discussions, it became apparent that we were not completely aligned on what that should look like and I felt it best to step away.”

Some have speculated Ng wanted the team to be more aggressive with spending money in the offseason. According to USA Today, the Marlins finished 2023 24th in all of MLB in team payroll at $91,700,000.

After a winning season but a not super impressive one that saw them have a negative run differential, the Marlins stayed put in free agency. Instead of being aggressive and raising payroll to compete for the division title, they made no major league signings and made little trades to increase depth.

According to Fangraphs, Miami entered the 2024 season with an estimated payroll of $100 million. They sat similar to the 2023 payroll and were the sixth lowest payroll in baseball.

Teams and owners have their own approaches to how they run their team, but there is no reason why the city of Miami has a team that is bottom sixth in team spending and have been towards the bottom in recent history. Miami is the 44th most populated city and has a strong culture full of loyal fans.

The state of Florida also has no state income tax that could be used as a pitch to influence free agents to play for Miami.

The fans were there when the Marlins won two World Series in 1997 and 2003. The fans have seen the team go through eight losing seasons up until their playoff berth in the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.

Bruce Sherman has owned the club since 2018 where they have a record through that stretch of 371-498. Sherman has publicly said that the Marlins are building for the future. The Marlins have been “building” for the future for almost a decade now.

Aside from sneaking into the playoffs in 2020 and 2023, the Marlins haven’t seriously pushed for a division ring. After the 2020 season, the Marlins won just 67 games in 2021 and 69 in 2022. The response to playoff berths has been pure and drastic.

We are seeing this same pattern as Miami is refusing to spend money to make the team better and the team and fans are suffering because of it. Either Sherman needs to sell the team, which he’s identified will never happen to someone who wants to bring a World Series to Miami or commit to the team.

Benes can be reached at [email protected].

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