The Marlins are known to be looking for shortstop help and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic relays today that they are considering names such as Tim Anderson, Amed Rosario, Nick Ahmed and Adalberto Mondesí. Their interest in Mondesí was reported last week but the other three are new connections for the Fish.
That the club is looking for shortstop help is perfectly logical, as their internal options are not great. Joey Wendle got most of the playing time there last year, but he reached free agency and signed with the Mets this offseason. They still have Jon Berti, but he’s now 34 years old and best suited to a utility role. Jacob Amaya is a glove-first guy who still has an option and can be kept in the minors for regular at-bats. Xavier Edwards only played four games at short in the minors last year, spending far more time at second, third and center field. Like Amaya, he’s also optionable. Vidal Bruján has always hit well in the minors but just .157/.218/.221 in the majors. He’s out of options but probably shouldn’t be the club’s Plan A at such an important position.
But now we’re just about a week away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training with the position still looking like an area of the roster that obviously needs work. Part of that seems to be due to new president of baseball operations Peter Bendix taking his time in getting to know the organization. The club still hasn’t signed a free agent to a major league deal this winter, regardless of position, with their offseason work limited to a few small trades and minor league deals.
The lack of activity might also be attributed to the weak free agent class at the position. While past winters have featured superstar free agents like Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa and others, the top names for the current offseason were those mentioned at the top of this post.
Anderson and Rosario are both coming off down years, with their respective markets surely impacted. Anderson hit just .245/.286/.296 on the year for a wRC+ of 60, the worst such mark of any qualified hitter last year. Rosario’s .263/.305/.378 line wasn’t quite as bad, 88 wRC+, but still well below league average. Both of them also saw their defensive metrics slide a bit, with Rosario largely kept at second base by the Dodgers after a deadline trade. Anderson, meanwhile, expressed a willingness to move across the bag if that’s necessary for his next club.
Both players could point to better results in previous seasons. Anderson hit .318/.347/.473 from 2019 to 2022 for a wRC+ of 123, with better defensive marks as well. Rosario’s slash for that same four-year period was .282/.315/.412, translating to a wRC+ of 101. If the Marlins were looking for reasons to expect a bounceback, perhaps Anderson’s knee injury could give them some hope. He went on the injured list in the second week of April due to a left knee sprain and perhaps was never himself, despite returning from the IL after only about three weeks. Last year’s 27.2 mph sprint speed was a big drop from 2022’s 28.3 mph, moving him from the 77th to the 45th percentile in the league. Rosario wouldn’t have any excuse like that, not going on the IL all year, but he did deal with some back soreness and knee soreness during the season and his offensive drop wasn’t nearly as steep.
Ahmed would be a different type of pursuit as he’s an excellent defender but has never really been a threat at the plate. He has 80 Defensive Runs Saved and 111 Outs Above Average in his career, but he’s hit just .234/.288/.376 for a wRC+ of 73. That was already subpar offensive production but his work at the plate slipped even farther in 2023, as he hit .212/.257/.303 and was released by the Diamondbacks in September.
If the Marlins decide that any of these players are worth a flier, they should be able to get something done. None of them should be able to command a massive deal, given their weak platform seasons. The fact that they remain unsigned this close to Spring Training probably doesn’t give them much leverage either. The club’s quiet offseason has left them with a projected payroll of $97MM, per Roster Resource, a decent drop from last year’s $110MM figure.
Rosario reportedly received interest from the Red Sox and Blue Jays this winter, though that was before the Sox added Vaughn Grissom and the Jays added Justin Turner. Anderson has been connected to the Angels while Ahmed’s market has been fairly quiet since his release.