Last offseason, the Marlins added some pieces around their core of Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich, but it was another season of the not-s0-best-laid-plans going awry. To be sure, Dee Gordon was an excellent addition, not to mention a welcome presence in Fantasy lineups. Martin Prado, Michael Morse, Ichiro Suzuki, Dan Haren and Mat Latos did little to help the Marlins -- or Fantasy owners -- to contend. The team won 71 games, or six fewer games than in 2014.
Despite the poor showing, not everything went sour. Stanton appeared to be on his way to leading the majors in home runs and RBI before succumbing to a fractured hand in late June. That occurred six days before Fernandez made his highly successful return from Tommy John surgery, though he, too, would eventually miss more time. Gordon led the majors in hits and stolen bases, and Yelich overcame a terrible start to finish with a .300 batting average.
Even though last season's plan didn't work out, the Marlins will head into 2016 with a roster similar to the one they featured for much of 2015. On opening day, they should enjoy something they didn't have at all last year: Stanton and Fernandez in the same lineup. Yelich will be back, though whether it's in left or center field depends on what the Marlins decide to do with Marcell Ozuna. Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto, who ascended to regular roles a year ago, will be starters from the get-go.
Wei-Yin Chen and Edwin Jackson are new additions to the rotation, with Chen replacing non-tendered Henderson Alvarez and Jackson serving as the fifth starter. The back end of a promising bullpen will feature A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps, though it is not yet known who will close and who will set up.
For a franchise that is becoming the poster child for futility, the Marlins have an enviable core of star players. With the relative lack of offseason player movement, they may appear doomed to another 70-to-75 win season, but younger players like Yelich, Ozuna, Bour, Realmuto and Capps could improve, as could 25-year-old right hander Jarred Cosart. Their upside may still be that of a .500 team, but for a mediocre squad, the Marlins boast more than their fair share of Fantasy talent.
2015 projected lineup
1. Dee Gordon, 2B
2. Christian Yelich, LF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
4. Justin Bour, 1B
5. Martin Prado, 3B
6. Marcell Ozuna, CF
7. J.T. Realmuto, C
8. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
BENCH: Chris Johnson, 1B/3B
BENCH: Derek Dietrich, 3B/OF
BENCH: Ichiro Suzuki, OF
2015 projected rotation
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP
2. Wei-Yin Chen, LHP
3. Jarred Cosart, RHP
4. Tom Koehler, RHP
5. Edwin Jackson, RHP
ALT: Adam Conley, LHP
2015 projected bullpen
Christian Yelich began 2015 with a back strain, and it clearly affected his production. A notorious ground ball hitter, Yelich began the year hitting singles almost exclusively, and not even all that many of them. Even after an early disabled list stint, his struggles continued, but after bottoming out with a .178 batting average on May 22, Yelich turned his season around. From that point forward, Yelich broke new ground with his batting average, on-base percentage and doubles pace. He now has the opportunity to extend that level of production over a full season, and he could still improve as a home run hitter. His minor league numbers -- 37 home runs over 309 games -- suggest it's possible.
A.J. Ramos brought stability to the Marlins' closer situation after Steve Cishek imploded, but as good as he was in 2015, he is not a lock to close in 2016. Carter Capps is a big reason for that. After spending most of the first quarter of the season in the minors, Capps emerged as one of the most dominant relievers in the majors. Strikeouts aren't a new thing for the 25-year-old, but with the addition of a controversial hop-step in his delivery, he became practically unhittable. Because of his high strikeout count and outstanding ratios, Capps has some Rotisserie appeal even in a setup role. If he does close, Capps will be a must-own in all formats.
In the middle of last season, the Rays' Erasmo Ramirez gained some notoriety with his sudden improvement. Less noticed were Adam Conley's accomplishments in the second half, and they followed a similar pattern to Ramirez. Upon being inserted into the Marlins' rotation in mid-August, Conley began throwing strikes at an unusually high rate, and he was getting frequent swings-and-misses as well. The lefty picked up steam as the season hit its final weeks, finishing with four straight quality starts. Over those 25 innings, Conley allowed just five earned runs on 17 hits and four walks. He won't likely get a chance to carry that momentum over this season, at least not right away, as he appears to be on the outside looking in at a rotation spot. However, Jackson and Tom Koehler aren't invulnerable to bullpen demotions, so Conley could be a good draft-and-stash option in deeper leagues, and you can almost certainly draft him late.
The Marlins' system has been drained of high-end talent, particularly at the higher levels, but Kendry Flores is one prospect who could contribute in 2016. Flores' strikeout rate took a hit once he reached the Double-A, but he was still highly effective there as well as at Triple-A. He doesn't face many roadblocks to starting in Miami and is worth consideration in NL-only leagues.
Jarlin Garcia made the jump to Double-A shortly after making an appearance in the Futures Game, and he was even better at getting strikeouts and swings-and-misses after his promotion. He was also wilder and more homer-prone, but if the southpaw can rebound from a 4.91 ERA, he could find himself in Miami later this season.
In 2014, the Marlins made Tyler Kolek the second overall pick in the June amateur draft. In 2015, he played in full-season ball for the first time, but his 25 starts in the South Atlantic League left a lot to be desired. Command continued to be an issue, and his 4.56 ERA and 1.56 WHIP were right in line with his Rookie league numbers. Kolek is still just 20, so it's too early to give up on him in dynasty leagues, but he is nowhere close to reaching the majors.
First baseman Josh Naylor and outfielder Stone Garrett are arguably the Marlins' top hitting prospects, but neither has yet to play in a full-season league. Naylor has more power potential than his .092 Isolated Power in the Gulf Coast League would suggest, and both are appropriate targets in dynasty formats.