The Marlins are exercising their 2024 club option on utilityman Jon Berti, reports Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. He’ll be paid a $3.625MM salary next year and will be arbitration-eligible one final time in the 2024-25 offseason before reaching free agency after the ’25 campaign.
Berti, 34 in January, has emerged as a utilityman extraordinaire in Miami, capably fielding three infield spots (second base, third base, shortstop) in addition to frequent work across all three outfield spots. He’s paired that versatility with excellent speed and baserunning value — 91 for his past 111 in steals, including an NL-best 41 in 2022 — and typically average or better production at the dish over the past five seasons.
Dating back to 2019, Berti is a .259/.338/.367 hitter in 1536 plate appearances. That production is weighed down by an off year in 2021, but Berti is fresh off a .294/.334/.405 showing that included a career-best seven home runs in a career-high 424 trips to the plate. He’d have remained arbitration-eligible and under club control through 2025 even if the Marlins had declined the option, but the strength of his 2023 performance likely would’ve ticketed him for a salary greater than the price of this affordable option. The Fish secured this option by agreeing to an eleventh-hour deal with Berti just before his arbitration hearing last offseason, and they’ll now avoid a potential hearing months in advance this time around.
Heading into the ’24 season, it’s unlikely that Berti will be penciled in for regular at-bats at one particular spot on the diamond, but his ability to bounce around in nearly seamless fashion should ensure that he’ll play a prominent role regardless of a nomadic defensive role on the roster. Between Berti, Josh Bell, Avisail Garcia and Sandy Alcantara, the Marlins have just over $41MM in guaranteed money on next year’s books, although a 13-player arbitration class — headlined by Luis Arraez, Jesus Luzardo and Tanner Scott — leads Roster Resource to project a payroll of more than $99MM.