Catcher has already been identified as a position of need for the Marlins this winter, and the club’s search for more offense is likely to result in some new faces in the outfield. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson believes the Fish “will acquire two starting outfielders,” with Jesus Sanchez likely taking the other starting role and Bryan De La Cruz probably moving to fourth outfielder duty.
Sanchez played almost exclusively as a right fielder down the stretch this season, so that would seem to specify left field and center field as Miami’s target areas. De La Cruz is probably best suited for a corner outfield role but he can at least chip in as a center fielder, expanding the Marlins’ ability to find ways to get his bat into the lineup following a solid rookie season. Should the National League adopt the DH in 2022, that will provide another route to playing time for De La Cruz or any other hitters the Marlins might acquire.
There’s no shortage of prominent outfielders in this year’s free agent class, and while a true blockbuster signing would still be a little unexpected for the Marlins, general manager Kim Ng has stated that “we are going to have some money to spend.” Jackson estimates that the Marlins have around $35MM in new revenue to work with thanks to a new TV contract and their ballpark’s naming rights deal, and while not all of that money will necessarily go into player payroll, it does at least somewhat expand the team’s spending parameters.
Of course, Miami could also turn to the trade market, as the team has already explored the possibility of trading from its depth of young pitching to acquire a high-profile outfielder. And with new talent coming in, internal trade candidates could be found amongst the players who may no longer be a major part of the Marlins’ long-term plans. Jackson mentions Braxton Garrett, Isan Diaz, Nick Neidert, Monte Harrison, and the out-of-options Lewis Brinson as players who have yet to show much at the Major League level, so any could conceivably be part of trade talks, whether as part of a lower-level swap or as parts of a larger trade package.
If outfield is a target area, it makes sense that the Fish could try to clear room by moving Harrison and Brinson. Garrett Cooper’s season was cut short by elbow surgery, but he has hit well in his career when healthy and his projected $3MM arbitration salary isn’t too expensive, so he could be retained for some right field work and as part of the first base/DH mix.
Third base is another potential position to be addressed, depending on what the Marlins opt to do with Brian Anderson. An injury-plagued year resulted in subpar (.249/.337/.378) numbers over 264 plate appearances for Anderson, a notable step back from the .266/.350/.436 slash line he produced from 2018-20. Depending on how Miami feels about Anderson as a building block, he could be deployed again as the starting third baseman, or moved back to the outfield to fill one of those holes, or the Marlins could look to trade him and then look for an upgrade at the hot corner.