Building and spending! Marlins committed to contending
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
JUPITER, Fla. — Two days into Spring Training, and the Miami Marlins are saying and doing all the right things.
Chairman and principal owner Bruce Sherman on Monday spoke about spending money in free agency, and general manager Kim Ng is tasked with addressing the primary needs: foremost, adding another impact hitter.
Manager Don Mattingly on Tuesday covered plenty of ground in his morning media session, shedding light on how he intends to use his roster. More on that later.
Foremost, Sherman’s pledge to spend is music to a skeptical South Florida fanbase market’s ears. Opening up the wallet has always been an issue with the Marlins.
“We have money, and we will spend it,” Sherman said. “How we spend it will be up to Kim, and all of the baseball operations people. All I can tell you is I’ve been on the phone 24/7 with the entire baseball operations staff over the last week.”
Miami’s intentions are certainly there. Now, we’ll see if the execution will follow.
From what ManOn2nd is hearing, it’s the same old same old. Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto and Jorge Soler are the main free agent targets. Castellanos and Conforto are represented by Scott Boras, notorious for waiting however long it takes for the best offer.
There is a sense that the free agent market will pick up once Freddie Freeman signs. The dominos are expected to fall after that.
Trade-wise, not much has changed. Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds is the top target.
There’s still time to swing deals, even with Opening Day a little more than three weeks away.
“Center field is an position that we need to address,” Ng said. “We don’t have the clearest path to it, as far as a true center fielder. We’ve thought about options. We still have to determine exactly what the market is, to figure out how to address it.”
As the front office explores free agent and trade options, Mattingly is dealing with the roster he has at hand.
Center field: Mattingly shed some light on who will play the outfield and center field in Spring Training.
Center field options in camp are Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Bryan De La Cruz, Jon Berti and Monte Harrison.
“It’s some work,” Mattingly said. “Avi, when he came over, he let everybody know that he could play center. So, he’s a possibility. Sanchy ranked out last year, as far as jumps and reads last year. They were very high. He’s going to get some looks out there.
“It’s what you’re looking to kind of shore up. How are we going to do that? Is it going to be two guys? Is it going to be one? A combination? … There are things that are a work in progress. Center field definitely a work in progress for us.”
Right field: Garcia is more of a natural right fielder, so he will get plenty of looks there. That’s why Sanchez, who played right field last year, will get some work in center. The position is not new for him.
“When I signed with Tampa Bay [in 2014], I was playing center field,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I do have experience having played in center field.”
As long as Sanchez gets to hit, he doesn’t care where he’s playing.
Left field: Brian Anderson fielded grounders at third base on Tuesday, but don’t rule out the possibility he plays in the outfield. A couple of years ago, Anderson split time in right field and third base. But with Garcia and Sanchez on the roster, Mattingly intends to give Anderson some work in left field.
“Andy will move around a little, like Kris Bryant,” Mattingly said. “I kind of put him into the category of a Kris Bryant. You see Kris being able to play third, or he plays left or he plays right, or he plays first. Andy really is that same kind of athlete. Anywhere you put him, you feel like he’s pretty good. But it’s the bat that you want in the lineup as much as possible.”
Designated hitter: The combination worked nicely in 2020, and the Marlins plan on using that approach again. Garrett Cooper and Jesus Aguilar are expected to be used at first base and DH.
“For a long time, I’m a National League lover,” Ng said. “But I think the time was right. We saw how it affected our club last year, and what it did for our club in 2020.
“Going into this year, we’ve got Garrett Cooper and Jesus Aguilar. We’re glad to see both of those bats in the lineup. We also plan to use the DH to rest guys from being out on the field.”
Sixto shut down: Right-hander Sixto Sanchez, who underwent shoulder surgery last season, is experiencing discomfort in his throwing arm, and is being shut down.