Miami Marlins general manager Michael Hill has spent the past two months trading Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich in the quest to cut payroll under the team’s new Derek Jeter-led ownership group.
Now the strenuous part of his offseason begins.
Hill is about to join former Marlins president David Samson, former big league outfielder Jeff Conine — aka “Mr. Marlin” — and about 50 other runners/masochists in an attempt to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. The World Marathon Challenge begins Tuesday in Novo, Antarctica, and passes through Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and South America before concluding in Miami on Feb. 5.
The Marlins’ 16-member contingent, which calls itself “Team Hold the Plane,” is trying to raise a total of $2 million for 11 designated charities.
“The opportunity to do something extraordinary while raising money for worthy charities seems like a perfect combination,” Samson said. “Only 54 people in the world have ever done this and we have a chance to join an elite group. Our team is called ‘Team Hold the Plane’ because we are relatively certain that the plane to the next continent will have to wait for us at some point.”
When asked in a text message if he would characterize himself as insane, Samson replied, “Likely.”
Hill, 46, played baseball and football at Harvard University and has run eight marathons. He averaged 50 miles a week while training for the World Marathon Challenge and peaked at 80 miles per week. Runners in the challenge are given eight hours to finish each race before the plane leaves for the next stop.
“I’m just looking to complete the feat,” Hill said. “I’m hoping for 5 to 6 hours average.”
Hill dispensed with some important pre-marathon business Thursday when he finalized a trade to send Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Lewis Brinson, infielder Isan Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto. While Yelich’s relationship with the Miami organization had endured some strain due to the recent string of departures, Hill said the Marlins “loved”‘ the package the Brewers offered and never felt impelled to make a move.
“We really weren’t in a tough spot,” Hill said. “We weren’t going to trade him if we didn’t get exactly what we wanted.”
Speculation now shifts to catcher J.T. Realmuto, another lineup staple who is reportedly less than pleased over the team’s new direction. The Washington Nationals are among the clubs that have inquired about Realmuto, a .280 career hitter who ranked fourth among big league catchers behind Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey and Willson Contreras with a .783 OPS last season. But Hill said no deal involving Realmuto is imminent.
“There’s nothing brewing on the J.T. front at the moment,” he said.
Fellow general managers who want to discuss Realmuto over the next 10 days will probably have to wait until Hill has crossed a finish line on an unspecified continent. Seven marathons in seven days might seem like a respite after all the legwork he’s done to trade four roster mainstays in an owner-mandated purge. Hill might also want to brace for the negative feedback he’s likely to receive at the team’s Fan Fest on Feb. 10.
What are Hill’s chances of surviving the 184-mile grind that awaits over the next 10 days? Samson, a veteran marathoner and triathlete, provided a scouting report on Miami’s GM.
“He has great underway speed,” Samson said. “The heat is his Achilles’ heel. But he will make it, without a doubt.”