Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill spoke with reporters on a conference call today, providing updates on multiple injured players and addressing the status of the wave of veterans who’d been in camp on non-roster deals this spring (all Twitter links via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson and SportsGrid’s Craig Mish).
Catcher Jorge Alfaro, who had been questionable for Opening Day due to a strained left oblique, now seemingly has put that injury behind him. Had Alfaro required an IL stint to open the season, Miami would’ve begun the year trotting out Chad Wallach and offseason signee Francisco Cervelli as the top two catching options, as there are no other backstops on the 40-man roster. (Alternatively, the club could’ve selected non-roster invitee Ryan Lavarnway.) If play does resume in 2020 now, they’ll instead take a continued look at the 26-year-old Alfaro, who came over from the Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto swap and slashed .262/.312/.425 with a career-high 18 home runs in 465 plate appearances for the Fish.
Updates on a pair of relievers were a bit less concrete. Flamethrowing righty Ryne Stanek, whom the Marlins acquired in the deal that sent unexpected breakout reliever Nick Anderson to the Rays last July, has been receiving some treatment for back discomfort and is now doing well. Fellow right-hander Jeff Brigham was slowed by a biceps injury in Spring Training and is still working his way back from that issue. A timetable for him wasn’t provided.
Stanek, 28, was impressive for the Rays in ’19 but saw his control completely disappear upon being traded to Miami. While he upped his strikeout rate with the Marlins, he also went from respectable walk rates with the Rays (3.2 BB/9, 8.8% overall) to astonishingly high levels with the Marlins (8.0 BB/9, 19.2%). At the time of the trade, Stanek seemed like a potential closing option for Miami — although so did Anderson — but his late struggles might’ve contributed to the Marlins’ offseason desire to add a veteran ninth-inning option (which they did in Brandon Kintzler).
Like most other clubs, the Marlins had a slew of big league veterans in camp on non-roster deals hoping to secure a spot on the club. The aforementioned Lavarnway, Matt Kemp, Sean Rodriguez, Brad Boxberger, Ryan Cook, Pat Venditte and Josh A. Smith were among the names hoping to secure a job. Everyone from that group is still with the organization, per Hill, despite any spring opt-out dates they might’ve had worked into their deals. However, until another iteration of training camp resume and teams know how many players they’ll be carrying on their rosters, Hill indicated that the club can’t make determinations or even indicate who is likely to be on the roster.
Mish and MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro had both previously reported that Boxberger seemed very likely to break camp with the team. Kemp, Mish noted again today, appeared unlikely to make the club prior to the leaguewide shutdown — and Hill himself acknowledged that the former All-Star had gotten out to a poor start (4-for-28, no extra-base hits, 11 strikeouts in 30 plate appearances). With Corey Dickerson, Matt Joyce, Garrett Cooper, Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra, Harold Ramirez, Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez all on the roster as potential corner candidates — Jonathan Villar is expected to play center field — Miami isn’t exactly hurting for options.