The Marlins have declined their mutual option on infielder Joey Wendle, per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. However, Wendle is not a free agent, as he can still be retained by the club via arbitration. Additionally, the club has outrighted three pitchers: Cody Poteet, Jordan Holloway and Bryan Hoeing.
Wendle was acquired from the Rays in a November 2021 trade, having between four and five years of MLB service time at that point, meaning he was set for two more passes at the arbitration system. He and the club avoided arbitration in April of 2022 by agreeing to a $4.55MM salary for 2022 plus a $6.3MM mutual option for 2023 with a $75K buyout. The Marlins have opted for the buyout but can still control Wendle for 2023 via arbitration, with MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projecting a salary of $5.4MM.
Wendle’s bat took a step back after the trade, most notably in the power department. He hit 11 homers with the Rays in 2021 while hitting .265/.319/.422 for a wRC+ of 105. After moving to Miami, he hit just three long balls and produced a batting line of .259/.297/.360 and a wRC+ of 87. Despite that downturn at the plate, Wendle still received quality marks for his defense and stole 12 bases, leading to him producing 1.2 fWAR on the season even with that tepid offense.
If the MLBTR projections are correct, that would mean the Marlins are making a smart decision in turning down the option. They can still keep Wendle around as a valuable utility player that can jump around the diamond, though his salary will be around $1MM less than if they just triggered the option.
As for Poteet, it was announced in August that he would undergo Tommy John surgery, meaning he’ll likely miss the entire 2023 campaign. He spent the last few months of the season on the 60-day injured list but there’s no IL between the World Series and Spring Training. It seems the Marlins weren’t willing to commit a roster spot to Poteet throughout the winter, leading to this outright. Since he has seven years of minor league experience, he’s eligible to reject the assignment and elect free agency.
It’s a similar situation for Holloway, who landed on the IL in July due to an elbow impingement and finished the season there. He needed to be reinstated this week but got outrighted instead. Like Poteet, his minor league experience gives him the right to elect free agency.
As for Hoeing, he was first selected to the roster in August and made his MLB debut this year. He put up a 12.08 ERA in a small sample of 12 2/3 MLB innings, but was much better in the minors. Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A this year, he had a 4.06 ERA while getting strong amounts of ground balls at each level. Since he lacks the seven years of experience in the minors, three years of MLB service time and has never previously been outrighted in his career, he should stick with the Marlins as depth but without occupying a roster spot.