TODAY: The Marlins have released Harrison, according to MLB.com’s Christina De Nicola (Twitter link).
MARCH 24: Harrison has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Jacksonville, the team informed reporters (including Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald). He’ll remain in the organization without requiring a 40-man roster spot.
MARCH 18: The Marlins announced a trio of roster moves Friday, designating outfielder Monte Harrison for assignment, claiming righty Yoan Lopez off waivers from the Phillies, and signing veteran outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. to a minor league contract.
Harrison, a second-round pick in 2014 and former top-100 prospect, was one of the key pieces sent from Milwaukee to Miami in the Christian Yelich blockbuster. The 26-year-old appeared in just 40 games with the Marlins over the course of his time in the organization, batting .175/.230/.263 in a tiny sample of 62 plate appearances. Of course, Harrison also never really forced his way onto the big league roster with standout performances in the minors, either. He logged a .715 OPS in an admittedly pitcher-friendly Double-A setting in 2018 — his first in the Marlins organization — and wasn’t able to push that OPS even as high as .800 in any of the three years he spent in the system.
Harrison did post a .242/.331/.446 batting line that checked in slightly above league-average production in Triple-A last year (108 wRC+), but he did so with a staggering 39.3% strikeout rate that surely didn’t give the team any confidence he was beginning to turn a corner. Now out of minor league options and squarely behind Avisail Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Bryan De La Cruz and others on the outfield depth chart, Harrison finds himself jettisoned from the 40-man roster. The Marlins will have a week to trade Harrison, place him on outright waivers, or release him. The latter of those three scenarios seems highly unlikely; Harrison will either be traded/claimed by another club, or he’ll pass through outright waivers unclaimed and remain in the Marlins organization.
Taking Harrison’s spot on the 40-man roster, at least for now, is the 29-year-old Lopez — a former high-profile Diamondbacks signing out of Cuba. He’s spent parts of four seasons in the big leagues but, after a decent start with Arizona, has seen his numbers tank in recent years. Lopez throws hard (96.2 mph average fastball in his career) and has better-than-average marks in terms of walk rate (7.7%) and ground-ball rate (46.8%).
That said, Lopez’s 19.1% strikeout rate is well shy of the MLB average, particularly among relievers, and he’s been overwhelmingly homer-prone. In 101 2/3 innings at the MLB level, he has a 4.25 ERA but a sky-high 1.77 HR/9. Lopez’s four-seamer has above-average velocity but bottom-of-the-scale spin rate, which has allowed hitters to square it up with regularity. On 251 occasions, Lopez has finished a big league plate appearance by throwing a fastball, and opponents have posted a .280/.333/.511 batting line in those instances. Lopez’s career 5.3% swinging-strike rate on his four-seamer is one of the lower marks you’ll come across.
As for the veteran DeShields, he’ll replenish some of the center-field depth lost by designating Harrison for assignment but do so without requiring a 40-man roster spot. The 29-year-old is a generally known commodity know, having logged big league time in each of the past seven seasons (including three years as the primary center fielder in Texas). DeShields has never shown much in the way of power but has well above-average speed and is capable of playing all three outfield spots. He’s a lifetime .247/.326/.342 hitter in 2114 trips to the plate at the MLB level.