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Miami Marlins Offseason Tinder: Outfield Edition

Dansby Swanson scooted forward and to his right from the base of the outfield grass. He thought about going to second, then shifted his aim to first base. As his throw across the diamond nestled into the webbing of Freddie Freeman’s 1B mitt, the 2021 MLB offseason officially began.

These next few months will be testy. The expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement will likely lead to some intense back-and-forth between MLB and the Players Association. Time will tell if Rob Manfred and Tony Clark can come to an agreement on a new CBA before there needs to be a work stoppage. Most reports have been…uh…less-than-optimistic.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. Let’s talk about that 2021 Miami Marlins outfield, huh?!?! Derek Jeter and Kim Ng head into the offseason with plenty of question marks in this area. There will certainly be some fresh faces roaming the outfield at loanDepot Park in 2021, and rightfully so. What should they do about the outfielders currently on Miami’s MLB roster, though?

Let’s keep it simple. Let’s assume Jeter and Ng need only swipe right or left on their current batch of outfielders…

NOTE: Swiping right means the player should be on the Opening Day roster in 2022. Swiping left means the player should be outrighted, traded, etc. Whatever makes him not on the Opening Day roster.

Brian Miller

26
⚾️⚾️⚾️
Tarheel for life!

Miller was taken 36th overall by Miami in 2017, out of the University of North Carolina. He’s hit for a good average and stolen a lot of bases in the Minors since then, but his arrival has been delayed due to complete lack of power (five HR in 1,758 PA). He finally got the call-up in 2021, though, appearing in five games and hitting .273.

Without an elite glove or any threat to drive the ball, Miller probably isn’t in Miami’s future anymore. There are better options to serve as a fourth outfielder next season.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Left

Lewis Brinson

FLO GROWN
Miami Marlins OF
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow” 🙏🙏🙏

What else needs to be said about Sweet Lew? He’s received 1,056 plate appearances in a Miami Marlins uniform, but just hasn’t been able to put it together for more than a brief stretch here and there. Those stretches, like the 19-game run between July and August in which he hit .355/.420/.726, show that there is indeed potential in the 27-year-old’s bat.

But there’s no consistency. His time is likely up in Miami. Here’s hoping he gets another chance in a fresh scenery.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Left

Monte Harrison

Born and raised in the Show Me State
Ball is life ⚾️🏀🏈
#AthleteFamily

Monte Harrison arrived in Miami in the same trade that netted Lewis Brinson, Isan Diaz, and Jordan Yamamoto from the Brewers for Christian Yelich. While Brinson was considered the crown jewel of that package, Harrison was also a highly-touted outfield prospect due to his mix of power, speed, and defensive ability. Unlike Brinson, however, Harrison hasn’t gotten a fair shake at the big league level (62 total PA).

I think that needs to change. Most probably won’t agree with me, but I think Harrison should be on the Opening Day roster in 2022. Even as a defensive replacement and pinch runner, both of which he’s shown he can do in the Majors, there’s value here. Plenty of teams have guys on their rosters who fill this type of role. How many of those guys can also hit a ball 475 feet? Monte should be given a chance to earn some at-bats in the Major Leagues instead of wasting his time in Triple-A.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Right

Garrett Cooper

Christmas Baby
Marlins Baseball
War Damn Eagle 🦅

Two things have been constants in Garrett Cooper’s Marlins career: good offensive production and unfortunate injuries. Because of the latter, I’m hesitant to give him the “injury-prone” label. Are you injury-prone if a pitch hits you on the hand? Are you injury prone if a runner barrels into your extended arm while you’re playing 1B? I say you’re just unlucky. These are the types of injuries that have kept Coop out for extended periods of time since he became a Marlin.

Cooper played 41 games in the outfield in 2021, but I think his future is at 1B/DH. Assuming the DH is added to the NL next season and the Marlins acquire one or two outfielders, that means Cooper, Lewin Diaz, and Jesus Aguilar will all compete for ABs at 1B/DH. Diaz makes the most sense to play first, as he’s far and away the best defender of the three. That leaves the DH spot for Aguilar and Cooper; two guys who are right-handed, produce at similar rates, and are nearly the same age. One has to get traded. If it’s Agui, Cooper and his 129 OPS+ should be in the 2022 Opening Day lineup.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Right (if Aguilar is traded. If he’s not, Swipe Left.)

Jon Berti

Miami Marlins IF/OF
Speed Kills 🏃‍♂️🔥🔥
BGSU Falcon

Jon Berti was a league-average hitter from 2019 to 2020 who played lots of positions and ran the bases well. Good guy to have on your team. In 2021, though, the bat slipped and he wasn’t as successful on the base paths. Will that cost him his spot on the 2022 Opening Day roster?

Berti will be 32 by the time Spring Training rolls around, yet he’s as fast as he’s ever been. There’s reason to believe the bat will bounce back to at least a 90-95 OPS+, as his expected stats were better than the .210/.311/.313 he posted in 2021. That’s good enough for a speed merchant/utility player who starts a few times per week.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Right

Bryan De La Cruz

Pelotero Dominicano
Padre orgulloso
Astros ➡️ Marlins

Bryan De La Cruz came to Miami from Houston via the Yimi Garcia deadline trade. He soon made his presence known in the Major Leagues, slashing .296/.356/.427 across 56 games (113 OPS+). Is he Miami’s answer in centerfield?

Well, it’s complicated. While his numbers were no doubt impressive for his first stint in the Majors, his underlying numbers suggest he was a bit lucky with balls in play. It’s safe to expect some regression, assuming he’s the same player next season as he was in 2021. Was he so lucky that Miami shouldn’t give him a fair shot to win the centerfield job for good? No. De La Cruz could wind up being a very fine Major Leaguer.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Right

Jesus Sanchez

Que lo queee
Higuey, Republica Dominicana
Vamos arriba Miami!

Sanchez was written off by many heading into 2021. He struggled mightily in his first cup of coffee in the Majors in 2020, after a so-so 2019 in Double- and Triple-A. He was dropped off of every top-100 prospect list after appearing in ’18, ’19, and ’20.

Then something clicked.

Sanchez abused Triple-A pitching to start his 2021 campaign, hitting .348/.406/.652 in 37 games. That’ll get you called up. He continued to produce at the Major League level, mashing 14 home runs in 64 games with a .808 OPS. Sanchez hit righties and lefties equally well, while also playing good defense. He is the safest bet to start in Miami’s outfield on Opening Day 2022.

Outfield Tinder Verdict: Swipe Right

Need a Big Fish

So, assuming Derek Jeter and Kim Ng are big fans of my articles and take my advice as gospel, the Marlins will have the following familiar faces in 2022:

Monte Harrison

Garrett Cooper (not in the OF and only if Aguilar is traded)

Jon Berti

Bryan De La Cruz

Jesus Sanchez

That’s a decent start. Nevertheless, the goal remains the same; Miami needs to add at least one productive, proven outfielder to their lineup this offseason. Nick Castellanos? Mark Canha? Eddie Rosario? Kyle Schwarber? A Starling Marte re-run? Something.

It’ll be a pivotal offseason for this franchise.

NOTE: Even though Brian Anderson has played outfield in his career, he hasn’t since 2019. I consider him an infielder. Also, Magneuris Sierra played plenty of outfield for the Marlins in 2021, but he was just outrighted to Triple-A. It seems they’ve already swiped left on him.

Sheehan Planas-Arteaga

Born and raised in Miami, Florida. I used to play baseball for a living; I walked a lot and didn't hit enough. Now I write words for a living and drop absolute bombs every Sunday for my men's league team. The Sopranos is more groundbreaking than it is good.

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