The Marlins announced Monday that they’ve signed a slew of players to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. First baseman Pedro Alvarez and middle infielders Dixon Machado and Deven Marrero have the most recent MLB experience of the bunch. Left-hander Mike Kickham, right-hander R.J. Alvarez, infielder Jon Berti and outfielder Gabriel Guerrero all have big league experience as well. Miami also made its previously reported re-signing of catcher Bryan Holaday to a minor league contract official and revealed that prized outfield addition Victor Victor Mesa will participate in Major League Spring Training.
Alvarez, 32 in February, is the most recognizable name of the bunch. The former No. 2 overall draft pick and Pirates slugger has spent the past three seasons in the Orioles organization. “El Toro” swatted 22 homers and had a solid year at the plate — primarily as a platoon designated hitter. He returned to the O’s on minor league pacts in each of the past two seasons but spent more time in Triple-A than in the Majors. Last year, Alvarez batted just .180/.283/.414 with eight homers in 127 Major League plate appearances and hit .243/.311/.446 with 16 homers in 305 Triple-A plate appearances. He’ll give the Marlins another option to compete for playing time alongside Peter O’Brien and Garrett Cooper.
Machado, 26 (and of no relation to the free-agent market’s more prominent Machado), appeared in 140 games with the Tigers from 2017-18. He’s generally regarded as a quality up-the-middle defender but didn’t provide enough hope with the bat to keep his roster spot in Detroit, even as the Tigers themselves are somewhat starved for middle-infield options. Machado batted just .229/.280/.303 in 414 PAs over the past two seasons, and he’ll give the Miami organization a glove-first depth option.
Marrero fits a similar profile. The former Red Sox first round-pick (2012) has long drawn praise for his defensive prowess but has yet to find success at the plate in parts of three seasons with Boston and another in Arizona. In 343 MLB trips to the plate, Marrero has posted a woeful .197/.250/.283 slash with five homers, 10 doubles and 10 steals. He does have experience at three infield positions, so he’ll join Machado in competing for a bench job in Miami this spring.
Kickham, soon to turn 30, will return to the Marlins organization after a solid minor league campaign in 2018. Through 42 innings (34 1/3 of which came in Triple-A), Kickham notched a 3.64 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 1.5 BB/9. He hasn’t been in the Majors since 2014 and has surrendered 37 earned runs in 30 1/3 frames as a big leaguer, but he’s thrown well in the Miami minor league ranks since 2017.
R.J. Alvarez, 27, hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2015 and has a career 7.39 ERA through 28 innings at the game’s top level. He’s punched out 101 hitters through 88 2/3 innings with the Rangers’ Triple-A club across the past two seasons, though he’s done so while exhibiting questionable control (48 walks).
Berti, 29 next month, received a four-game cup of coffee with the Blue Jays late in 2018, which marked his MLB debut. He’s struggled to a .593 OPS in 506 career PAs in Triple-A but posted much better numbers in Double-A. As with Machado and Marrero, he’ll provide some infield depth.
Guerrero, 24, was once considered to be one of the Mariners’ best prospects but has seen his production evaporate since reaching the Double-A level. The Reds gave him his first taste of the Majors in 2018, and he managed to connect on his first big league homer in a brief 14-game stint with Cincinnati. On the whole, though, he went 3-for-18 with eight strikeouts and no walks in his first MLB cup of coffee. There’s certainly reason to believe that a player with Guerrero’s bloodline can improve; he’s the nephew of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and the cousin of Blue Jays uber-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Beyond the aforementioned players, the Marlins also added catchers B.J. Lopez, Sharif Othman and Rodrigo Vigil to minor league contracts, as well as left-hander Brian Moran. None of that quartet has MLB experience, though each will have the opportunity to win a job in Spring Training, it seems. Lopez, Othman and Vigil were minor league free agents of the Marlins and each re-signed to return to the organization.