When the Marlins parted ways with Derek Jeter on March 1, reports in the immediate aftermath suggested that a rift had grown between Jeter and owner Bruce Sherman — in part due to a change in payroll expectation. Sherman, the team’s principal owner, pushed back on that notion in meeting with reporters today, plainly stating that the Marlins have money left to spend and plan to do just that (Twitter link via SportsGrid’s Craig Mish). That’s a subjective statement, of course, but it’ll be telling to see to what extent the Marlins are willing to further bolster the payroll.
Specifically, Jeter’s push to sign Nick Castellanos was reported to be a source of consternation. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported last week that he’d been willing to offer at least five years to bring the Miami native into the fold, but it’s less clear that Castellanos remains a priority post-lockout. Longtime Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro reports that the Fish remain interested in Castellanos but characterizes them as a “long shot” to win the bidding for his services (Twitter link).
Castellanos would add a much-needed bat to the mix, and Sherman indeed told reporters in his media session: “We need bats” (link via Mish). However, even with the advent of the universal designated hitter, Castellanos is a little bit of an imperfect fit from a roster construction standpoint. Miami already has several corner options, including Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Garrett Cooper and Bryan De La Cruz. However, the Marlins don’t have a true everyday center fielder, and general manager Kim Ng said this morning that finding such an option is a priority (Twitter link, with video, via MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola).
Ng acknowledged that Garcia is an option in center field and that they discussed the possibility of him playing center while in the process of negotiating his four-year contract. However, there’s little doubt that Garcia is best suited for corner-outfield work, which is generally the case with all of the Marlins’ in-house options. The free-agent market is rather light on options at the moment, which helps to explain why Miami has repeatedly pursued a trade for Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds. (Reynolds himself is best in a corner but also better defensively in center than Miami’s current options.) Presumably, they’re exploring additional options to roam center field.
Miami’s deep stock of pitching talent positions them nicely to pull of a trade for an outfielder, but their depth has taken at least something of a hit in recent months. Righty Zach Thompson went to the Pirates as part of the package to acquire catcher Jacob Stallings, and lefty Jake Eder underwent Tommy John surgery late in the 2021 season. It was also reported recently that righty Sixto Sanchez was behind schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery, and Ng confirmed as much today (via Mish). Sanchez is currently shut down entirely and does not have a timetable to resume throwing. A recent MRI came back clean, Ng noted, but Sanchez had experienced discomfort when ramping up for the season.
Even still, the Marlins have Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, Pablo Lopez and Elieser Hernandez penciled into rotation spots, and there ought to be a spirited competition for the fifth starter’s job. Jesus Luzardo, Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett, Cody Poteet, Nick Neidert, Paul Campbell and Daniel Castano all started games in Miami last year. Ng said today that Cabrera will be late reporting to camp due to visa issues, which could put him a bit behind some of the others in terms of competing for that spot. Luzardo is the on-paper favorite for it, but a lot can change over the course of Spring Training. Injuries and performance can alter the picture, and it’s still possible that the Marlins include Hernandez in a deal to land an outfielder.