The Miami Marlins were facing an ongoing dilemma with the team having a bounty of outfielders available to them, especially once Giancarlo Stanton returns to the lineup in a few weeks and Christian Yelich earns a potential promotion to the majors. This is already showing on the main roster, as Justin Ruggiano, the team's leader in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement, has been squeezed out of the starting lineup and into the small half of a platoon situation thanks to a cold bat and the so-called resurgence of Chris Coghlan.
Soon enough, the hot-hitting Coghlan would have also suffered from the roster squeeze, but it seems the Marlins have a plan for finding Coghlan some playing time, and it is a plan that folks here at Fish Stripes have been advocating for two years now: play him at third base.
The Marlins will finally attempt to move Coghlan back to his native infield position after years of playing him off-position in the outfield. If you will recall, Coghlan was moved from second base to the outfield in 2009 when Cameron Maybin was first demoted for troubles, and that move eventually led to Coghlan's Rookie of the Year award. Despite this, however, Coghlan has struggled by most fielding metrics and looked average at best by the eye test in the outfield, making him a liability defensively. Combine that with his three-year drought of struggles at the plate and injuries and you can see why Coghlan was quickly falling out of favor with the team.
But with his latest hot streak, the Marlins are attempting to keep Coghlan in the lineup as much as possible, which is why the Fish will work him in the infield for the first time since 2009. Recall that Coghlan played second base during winter league this past offseason, likely in an attempt to diversify his situation to help himself stay on the team. It was a smart move them, and it is the right decision now to attempt him at an infield position again.
Of course, this is really dependent on Coghlan's defense in the infield, which has been questioned due to the Marlins' resistance about playing him there for three years. There had to be a reason, given Coghlan's relatively poor outfield play, that the Marlins chose to keep him away from his natural position all this time. Coghlan played third base in the University of Mississippi and switched between third and second base for most of his time in the minors, so something had to be working. His switch to second could have been an indication that the organization did not like his arm, but outside of that, we have not heard any word about Coghlan being bad defensively in the infield.
The Marlins will find out soon enough as Coghlan begins taking grounders at the end of this week's six-game road trip. Marlins fans like myself will find out as well, and we will finally see whether we were right all along to criticize the Fish for their unwillingness to pull the trigger on this move.