What will the Marlins do without Alcantara and Soler in 2024?

MIAMI – When the Marlins met with the media at LongDepot Park on Thursday, two big names were conspicuous by their absence: Dominican ace Sandy Alcantara and Cuban slugger Jorge Soler.

Alcantara appeared during a break in his training, but Soler continued to try his luck in the free agent market. Miami will be without Alcantara for the entire 2024 season while the right-hander recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Whether the Marlins return to the playoffs in 2024 will depend on whether they can fill the hole left by that pair. Even in a season below his lofty standards, Alcantara was tied for 15th in fWAR among NL pitchers, along with teammate Braxton Garrett. For his part, Soler ranked tenth among Old Circuit hitters in slugging (.512) and his 36 home runs represented 22 percent of Miami’s total home runs.

“I think we have a lot of room to grow as a team,” said Josh Bell, who exercised his 2024 player option earlier this winter. “If everybody gets a little better at what they’re already really good at… then obviously, we expect (Luis) Arraez to hit at least .300, right? Jazz ( Players like (Chisholm Jr.) will continue to be electric with improvement from guys like (Jesus) Luzardo and Braxton and (Jesus Sanchez), who returns.

“I think we have an incredible opportunity to be the team to beat, keep games close and rebound late, have the right game plan for each starter and get an early lead. So, hopefully if we “This year we’re headed in the right direction, we can get to the All-Star break, get to the trade deadline and make moves that will help this team.”

Apart from Alcantara and Soler, almost everyone from the 2023 team is back. Additionally, the Marlins can expect a full season from top-of-the-order hitters Bell and Jake Burger, who were trade deadline acquisitions. Although Bell struggled with Cleveland, he hit 11 homers and posted an .818 OPS for Miami. Burger lowered his strikeout rate with the Marlins, hitting .303 with nine home runs and an .860 OPS.

Then the hope, as Bell said, is that the less experienced players will continue to develop.

For example, Dominican Brian de la Cruz finished second on the team behind Soler with 19 homers. He led the team with 78 RBIs and 153 games played as a starter in the Major Leagues for the first time. De la Cruz would like to increase those numbers to 25 homers and 100 RBI.

“My strength is I’m trying to learn a little more about my body,” de la Cruz said. “Just being able to recognize what pitches are, where to take good swings, having the power to be able to hit it out of the park.”

Miami got a taste of what it was like to be without Soler during a three-game series in Washington in early September, when the Marlins swept the Nationals by a combined score of 25–14. But managing a short period of time is very different than managing an entire season.

“Obviously, they treat you a little differently when Solar isn’t there who has the power behind you, but it’s just about going out there and not trying to do too much,” Berger said. , who hit two homers and drove in three runs. That weekend. Of the week. “I think that’s the important thing; you’re not trying to hit a five-run home run. Just be you. If you’ve got to take a walk, you’ve got to negotiate a walk.”

It was that same weekend that Alcantara first experienced discomfort in his right arm. Miami went 14–11 the rest of the season and clinched the second National League wild card. The challenge will be to vary his workload in both quantity and quality during the 162-game campaign.

“I think we’re just trusting our routine, trusting all the work we’ve done,” said Garrett, who averaged 159.2 innings in 2023 and wants to reach 180-200 in 2024. “I train with Jesus in the offseason, so I can see how hard he works, and also the example that Sandy has set year after year. We can see how hard he works and we know know what it takes. Even though he’s not here, he still set the example that we can follow; maybe not copy and maybe not set the bar as high for ourselves, but to pick up the ball and make our Try to adopt the same mentality of trying to give the team every possible innings.”

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