The Marlins will select the contract of first baseman Yuli Gurriel, GM Kim Ng said today during the team radio broadcast (hat tip to Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald). Both Gurriel and Jose Iglesias recently signed minor league deals with the Fish, and both had the ability to exercise opt-out clauses in those contracts yesterday if Miami didn’t place them on the Opening Day roster. Ng said that Iglesias won’t break camp with the team, but the veteran infielder has chosen to pass on his opt-out in order to remain in the minors.
Signs were pointing towards the Marlins’ decision yesterday, since the club was leaning towards utilityman Jon Berti as the right-handed complement to Joey Wendle at the shortstop position, rather than Iglesias. Jordan Groshans, Jacob Amaya, and Garrett Hampson also provided further shortstop depth at Triple-A, making Iglesias less of a true need as Wendle’s timeshare partner. By contrast, the Marlins have a lot less depth at first base, giving Gurriel an opportunity to join with Garrett Cooper as Miami’s top two options at the position. Cooper can also play in the corner outfield, and naturally either player could serve as the DH whenever Jorge Soler is in the outfield.
The financial terms of Gurriel’s minor league deal weren’t reported, but he’ll lock in a guaranteed salary whenever Miami officially selects his contract prior to Opening Day. Gurriel and the Marlins were linked on the rumor mill for quite some time before he actually put pen to paper, with the result being a minors contract after the Fish reportedly took a one-year deal in the $2MM off the table earlier in the offseason.
From Iglesias’ perspective, his decision to decline the opt-out clause makes sense. Iglesias only just signed with the Marlins a little over two weeks ago, and he apparently preferred the opportunity to ramp up in the minor leagues over another trip into the free agent market. Iglesias also has two more opt-out dates built into his contract, as he can again decide on his future on May 1 and June 1 if Miami hasn’t already added him to its 26-man roster.
Miami still has to place Max Meyer (Tommy John surgery recovery) onto the 60-day injured list, which will create space for Gurriel on the 40-man roster. As for 26-man roster space, the Marlins have two spots to work with, since left-hander Steven Okert and right-hander Tommy Nance are both going to start the year on the 15-day injured list. Manager Skip Schumaker told McPherson and other reporters that Okert will miss a couple of weeks as the southpaw recovers from a left adductor issue, while Nance faces a longer recovery period from a bout of shoulder stiffness. Nance isn’t expected to start throwing until closer to the middle of April.