The Marlins announced to reporters, including Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald, that they have selected infielder/outfielder Garrett Hampson to the roster. In a corresponding move, right-hander Anthony Bender was placed on the 60-day injured list. Hampson had an opt-out in his deal, per Craig Mish of the Miami Herald.
Hampson, 28, spent his entire career with the Rockies until recently. That club selected him in the third round of the 2016 draft and he was in the big leagues just two years later. After getting a 24-game debut in 2018, he appeared on some top 100 prospect lists going into 2019, but he has struggled at the plate since then. Over the past four seasons, he’s hit just .233/.292/.369 despite playing his home games at Coors Field. That amounts to a wRC+ of just 63, indicating he’s been 37% worse than league average.
Hampson has just over four years of MLB service time and could have been retained for two further seasons by the Rockies via arbitration. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected him for a salary of $2.1MM for 2023, but the Rox decided to walk away, non-tendering Hampson and making him a free agent. The Marlins then signed him to a minor league deal in December.
Despite those struggles at the plate, there are things Hampson brings to the table. He’s stolen 52 bases in 65 tries in his career thus far, a part of his game that could perhaps become more important with this year’s rule changes to encourage more base stealing. He also provides a lot of defensive versatility, having played the three infield positions to the left of first base, as well as in the outfield.
The Marlins will have multiple questions marks on their team when it comes to defense. Jazz Chisholm Jr. is moving from second base to center field, a position he’s never played before. Luis Arraez is taking over at the keystone, a position where he has been graded poorly. Jean Segura is set to take over third base, where he has very limited experience. Utility man Joey Wendle could be stepping into a regular shortstop role, unless José Iglesias makes the team and takes over there.
Since Hampson can move around the diamond, he can give the club a bit of extra depth at those positions. If any of those experiments fail or someone gets injured, he’ll be an option to fill in. He also still has an option year remaining and doesn’t need to be on the active roster if there’s no room for him.
Today was the first day that non-roster invitees are eligible to have their contracts selected and the Marlins wasted little time in doing so with Hampson. There’s still over two weeks to Opening Day but Hampson had that opt-out in his contract. It’s unknown exactly when he could trigger that, but the Fish won’t give him a chance to return to the open market, instead giving him a spot.
As for Bender, his placement on the 60-day IL is a mere formality. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August of last year and could miss most or perhaps all of the upcoming campaign.