TODAY: The Marlins are also “considering” a reunion with Marcell Ozuna, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. Since Ozuna rejected the Cardinals’ qualifying offer, however, FNTSY Radio’s Craig Mish doesn’t believe the Marlins would give up the required draft pick compensation to sign the outfielder.
MONDAY: The Marlins are looking to add a position player to their everyday lineup, as the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported last week, and the team is “believed” to have interest in free agent right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes today.
Miami would presumably have to overpay in order to persuade a fairly notable free agent to sign a multi-year deal in the midst of a rebuild, but the fit makes sense for a few reasons. Beyond the sheer fact that the Marlins’ offense in 2019 was horrific, Castellanos is a Miami-area native. He attended high school a mere 25 miles from Marlins park, so signing in Miami would likely hold more appeal to him than to the standard free agent. He’s also an unusually young free agent at 27 years of age (28 in March), so he’d theoretically still be in his prime years when Miami seeks to emerge from its rebuild. Castellanos was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer, so he won’t cost the rebuilding Marlins any draft picks. (Although, notably, president of baseball ops Michael Hill suggested last week that a qualifying offer may not be the detriment most would expect.)
On the other side of the equation, Castellanos’ enthusiasm over being in a pennant race with the Cubs can’t be ignored. He’s spent most of his career on a cellar-dwelling Tigers club and was outspoken on multiple occasions about what it meant to him to play meaningful games in September. At least as far as the 2020 season goes, that’s not really a selling point the Marlins can include in their pitch (hence the previously mentioned need to overpay).
Signing Castellanos or any other corner outfielder — Avisail Garcia, Corey Dickerson and old friend Marcell Ozuna are among the alternatives — would likely mean keeping third baseman/outfielder Brian Anderson on the infield. Anderson, 26, has emerged as a potential building block himself and is the team’s clear best position player at the moment. Teaming him and Castellanos up in the heart of the order would assuredly give the Marlins improved offensive output, and the Marlins can easily afford to pursue such an arrangement. Miami has a ridiculously low $26.75MM committed to the 2020 roster $22MM to Wei-Yin Chen and $4.75MM to Miguel Rojas) and just $5MM in 2021 (plus $3MM per year to the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton).
In fact, Miami’s payroll is so low, they’ll likely feel pressured to spend some money in the offseason. The MLBPA raised concerns about the team’s use of its revenue-sharing profits two seasons ago when payroll was substantially higher, and they’re currently on pace to have a league-low $52.79MM payroll in 2020 (including three arbitration-eligible players, 21 pre-arbitration players and the Stanton payout). Miami’s $63MM Opening Day payroll in 2019 was already the lowest in the Majors, and a further reduction could once again call the team’s allocation of its revenue-sharing funds into question.
Castellanos split the 2019 season between the Tigers and the Cubs, hitting a combined .289/.337/.525 — including a ridiculous .321/.356/.646 following his trade to Chicago. His right-field defense is regarded as well below-average, though the 2019 season was only his second year at the position after moving there from third base (and his numbers improved dramatically from 2018 to 2019).