MIAMI -- Speaking to reporters at Marlins Park, Michael Hill frequently repeated a straightforward message when discussing Miami's offseason plans.
"We need to get better."
After a 57-105 season -- Miami's 10th consecutive losing campaign -- it's hardly a surprising edict from the Marlins president of baseball operation ahead of next week's MLB General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. Despite the struggles on the major league level, Hill has seen significant progress throughout the organization's first two years under new ownership, namely the growth of the team's minor league system.
Inheriting a barren farm system, the Marlins have quickly transformed it into the fourth-best in MLB, ripe with six top-100 prospects. They've significantly improved their international scouting and analytics departments, while also creating an education program to help facilitate the off-field growth of their minor league prospects.
But at the end of the day, progress is ultimately measured on the major league level -- something Hill is well aware of.
"Ownership has made it clear we need to get better," Hill said. "What we've done organizationally is tremendous and (there's) a lot of reason for optimism, but we know that until we're doing it at the highest level, we haven't reached our goal. That's why there's still a lot of work to be done."
With MLB free agency officially underway, the first order of business for Miami will be upgrading the offense, which ranked near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories. While Hill said the team will "fundamentally build through scouting and development," there's ample room to address needs through free agency.
The Marlins are being cautious, however, to avoid blocking talented prospects who are close to debuting in the majors.
"It's a delicate balance," Hill said. "We have to be very systemic with our approach in improving our club and the bottom line is we need to get better."
"The goal is not just winning more games in 2020. It's as I've said, (building) something sustainable year-in and year-out and being able to compete for championships."