The Marlins headed into the offseason looking for at least one outfield upgrade and checked one addition off the box prior to the lockout when securing Avisail Garcia on a four-year, $53MM contract. They’re still hoping to add “at least one more” outfielder when the current transaction freeze lifts, Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald writes, which meshes well with recent reports tying the Fish to myriad outfield options.
They were linked, to varying extents, free-agent options such as Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos and Eddie Rosario even after adding Garcia. On the trade front, they’re reported to have interest in D-backs star Ketel Marte. One note of importance in their search to add to the outfield mix, via a second column from McPherson, is that general manager Kim Ng suggested the team believes the newly signed Garcia can play regularly in center field, if needed.
Miami doesn’t have a true, everyday center fielder at present, and at least ostensibly, the Marlins look to be carrying quite a few corner-only outfielders (e.g. Garcia, Jesus Sanchez, Garrett Cooper). Deadline acquisition Bryan De La Cruz has some experience in center (629 innings between MLB and the minors), but a good portion of that (199 innings) came out of necessity with the Marlins late last season. Meanwhile, he has just shy of 3000 career innings in right field and another 723 in left field, suggesting that the Astros –who traded him to Miami in the Yimi Garcia deal this past July — viewed him as mostly a corner option, at the very least.
A willingness to play Garcia in center field would open up the Fish to adding another corner option. To that end, it’s worth noting that MLB Network’s Jon Heyman suggested last week on his Big Time Baseball Podcast that Miami “may end up with Rosario” being their preferred option as a second outfield pickup. Both Rosario and Garcia have played a fair bit of center field in their careers, so if the former indeed joins the latter in Miami, perhaps both could see occasional time there.
Following the Marlins’ signing of Garcia and their pre-lockout trades to acquire catcher Jacob Stallings and infielder Joey Wendle, Miami has $23.8MM in guaranteed payroll and a projected Opening Day payroll of about $69MM, per Roster Resource’s Jason Martinez (including arbitration-eligible players and pre-arb players). That’d be a jump of about $12MM from last year’s stripped-down roster, but even for a typically low-payroll club like the Marlins, there’s room to add onto that mark. The Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter ownership group has in the past been reported to be planning a gradual payroll uptick as the team emerges from a rebuilding effort. The Garcia signing, the Sandy Alcantara extension and the acquisitions of some arb-eligible players with salaries of relative note (Stallings, Wendle) all support that line of thinking.