The Miami Marlins currently have Peter O’Brien listed as the first player on their first base depth chart.
O’Brien deserves a chance to build on his solid end to 2018. In 22 games through the month of September, he hit four home runs and slashed a very solid .273/.338/.530, in an admittedly small sample size for the Miami Marlins.
Although O’Brien has earned our respect by getting back to the big leagues by taking the long way around, Steamer projections tell a grim story. O’Brien is projected to finish with a Miami Marlins-worst -0.7 WAR in 2019, on a .196/.264/.378 slashline in 105 games. He’s also projected to lead the team with 18 home runs, but that’s small consolation from a player manning the traditionally power-strong position.
What’s a rebuilding franchise to do? Power hitting Justin Bour is gone, Martin Prado is traditionally a third baseman (and woefully injury prone at this stage of his career), and the depth chart below O’Brien is Eric Jagielo (.198 in 121 games for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in 2018) and John Silviano (65 games for the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads, hit .281 with 12 homers). Jagielo simply isn’t good enough to tie up a major league roster spot, and Silviano still has a lot to prove at higher levels before a callup.
The Miami Marlins could go the free agency route, instead of shopping around all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto for once. Every Marlins-centered rumor this season seems to focus on Realmuto, but not every answer can be answered by parting ways with him.
So who is available through the free agent route? He would need to be solid, not too old, not too expensive and not too injury prone). A cursory glance at sportrac.com tells us the field is pretty thin. But there are solutions to be had there.
Although Adams is coming off a career-worst .239 average, he also swatted a career-high 21 homers in 2018 between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals. Steamer has him putting up a .248/.311/.461 slashline in 2019, with 17 homers in just 83 games, along with a 105 WRC+. Still just 30-years-old, could Adams be worth his sticker price for one year (probably between $5 and $7 million)?
Duda completed the 2018 campaign in a bench role for the Atlanta Braves, hitting just four-for-18 in 20 games. He’s collected 30 home runs twice in his career, and cleared 27 in three of his last five seasons.
Duda has some history with injury, and will be 33 when the season starts. Steamer predicts a .231 average and 16 homers in 83 games for the long-time former-Met. Asking price for Duda will be between $4 and $6 million.
Flores is smack-dab in the middle of his prime. Now 27-years-old, he hit .267 in 126 games for the Mets last season. He’s not going to give the home run race a run anytime soon, but he’s a solid bet for 15 homers and an adequate glove at first base. Steamer projects his WRC+ at 113 for the coming season, along with a .274 average. The sticker price is unknown, but probably around $8 million.
It could be serendipity for the recently married Bour. A fan favorite throughout his time with the Miami Marlins, the donut-lover is sure to be welcomed back with open arms. He was solidly behind the rebuild before getting traded away, and would be the default leader of the mostly young club. Steamer has him rebounding from a substandard season to hit .250. He’ll always be a strong threat for 25 home runs. Non-tendered by the Phillies on Friday, could he be worth the price? I’m not sure what the market is going to look like, but he could likely be signed for $4 million, give or take.
After hitting 111 home runs over four seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2012 through 2015, Alvarez has regressed substantially. Could a fresh start do him (and the Marlins) any good. He was bad enough last season that he couldn’t stick with the MLB-worst Baltimore Orioles, splitting the year between the parent club and the triple-A Norfolk Tides. Alvarez would be happy at this point to sign for the league minimum.
Just for old times sake, Morrison will still be just 31 when next season begins. Steamer says he’ll hit 21 homers and slash .226/.320/.425. After hitting .186 for the Minnnesota Twins in 2018, is he due for a bounce-back season? Morrison will also likely accept a league-minimum contract.
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