The Marlins announced Wednesday evening that infielder Charles Leblanc has been designated for assignment. The move creates a 40-man roster vacancy for Jean Segura, who has officially signed his two-year free agent deal.
Leblanc earned his first MLB call last July. Signed to a minor league contract last offseason after seven years in the Texas farm system, he earned a look with Miami by hitting .302/.381/.503 line Triple-A Jacksonville. Leblanc held his MLB roster spot the rest of the way and hit .263/.320/.404 with four home runs through his first 169 plate appearances. That production checked in seven percentage points above league average, by measure of wRC+.
Considering Leblanc’s solid bottom line numbers, it’s a moderate surprise he lost his 40-man roster spot this winter. It’s clear the Miami front office wasn’t bullish on his ability to continue to hit at an above-average level. Leblanc benefitted from an unsustainable .374 batting average on balls in play, masking an alarming 31.4% strikeout percentage. He’d also struck out at a notable 27.2% clip in Jacksonville.
That’s surely a concern, although Leblanc actually made contact at a decent clip on a per-pitch basis. He put the bat on the ball on 76.4% of his swings, a figure that’s almost exactly league average. Leblanc took plenty of called strikes and put himself in some unfavorable counts, but he fared reasonably well at making contact when deciding to swing.
The 26-year-old has some defensive flexibility. He suited up at each of first, second and third base in the majors and logged a decent amount of left field run in Triple-A. Leblanc had some early-career work at shortstop in the minors but isn’t more than an emergency stopgap there. Nevertheless, the ability to bounce around the diamond and his solid 2022 campaign at the upper levels seemingly give him a good shot at landing elsewhere in the coming days.
Miami will have a week to trade Leblanc or try to run him through waivers. He still has all three minor league option years remaining, meaning any team willing to carry him on the 40-man can freely move him between the majors and Triple-A for the extended future.