Infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich has elected free agency after clearing waivers, the Marlins announced today. He had been designated for assignment recently.
Dietrich, 29, possesses a quality left-handed bat that would aid many contending lineups. He also has a varied positional background, but he’s not considered a very good defender at any of the spots — second base, third base, and the corner outfield — he has tried out over the years.
Clearly, no other clubs were interested in paying the projected $4.8MM Dietrich would have commanded in arbitration. He’ll now be available to the highest bidder, with any acquiring team also picking up an added season of arb control (assuming he signs a one-year pact).
That rate of pay would be quite reasonable if Dietrich could even hold his own in the field, but defensive metrics have always been skeptical and it seems the scouts agree. He moved out of the infield in 2018 as the Marlins tried to find a fit, but his time on the grass hasn’t gone well either. Dietrich has graded quite poorly in left field over 1,120 career innings.
All that said, it still stands to reason that Dietrich will get some bites in free agency from clubs that like the idea of utilizing him as a bench bat that can at least plausibly fill in around the diamond. It doesn’t help that there are so many useful infielders floating around the market, but few can match his overall offensive productivity.
Through 1,716 plate appearances over the past four years, Dietrich owns a .262/.344/.428 batting line with 46 home runs — good for a 114 OPS+. He’s best utilized against right-handed pitching, which limits his overall utility but does mean he could occupy the larger share of a potential platoon pairing.