When it comes to roster holes, the Miami Marlins are loaded with them, and they are interested in stocking up on those empty areas in advance of the 2014 season. One of those areas of interest is at third base, where the Marlins would be more comfortable acquiring a one-year stopgap because of the impending arrival of prospect Colin Moran. The Marlins right now are looking more for long-term replacements, the third base spot is somewhere where Miami could go short-term.
We have discussed free agent signing possibilities like Juan Uribe or trade options like David Freese here on this site. One name we have never mentioned and should never mention was actually brought up by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. That player is Yuniesky Betancourt.
The Marlins have inquired about free agent third basemanYuniesky Betancourt, 33, a .261 career hitter who hit .212 with 13 homers and 46 RBI for Milwaukee last season.
Betancourt can play every infield position but the Marlins are considering him –-- and several others –-- primarily for third base. His agent, Miami Sports Management’s Alex Esteban, wouldn’t comment on the Marlins’ interest but said Betancourt would have interest in Miami.
You do not need me to tell you that this would be an abject disaster for Miami. No player signifies the worst kind of baseball than Betancourt, who has proven over the years to be a mediocre defender and a terrible hitter. Betancourt is a career .261/.285/.388 hitter (.292 wOBA) and he has been moved around the infield from shortstop, where he received initial rave reviews and slowly turned into a major liability, all the way to first base last season. The Milwaukee Brewers were desperate for any player to play the first base position, but turning to Betancourt turned into a disaster, as he put up a .212/.240/.355 (.257 wOBA) line. That was the sixth-worst batting performance in baseball last season among players with at least 400 plate appearances.
Betancourt's terrible play has extended for almost a decade. He began his career in 2005 and started playing full-time in 2006. In the last decade, among players with at least 2000 plate appearances, Betancourt is the fifth-worst player by FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (WAR). He stands ahead of only He stands in front of only perennial bench bats and middle infielders and Delmon Young. Betancourt has logged over 4200 plate appearances and is about a win worse than replacement for his career.
(Side note: Three of the ten worst players by fWAR in this past decade all logged more than 1000 plate appearances as Marlins. Those three players? Mike Jacobs, Wes Helms, and Greg Dobbs. Joy!)
The Marlins would be asking Betancourt to play third base, where he has only played 475 innings (417 last season) in his career. The Fish would probably get acceptable, if slightly below-average defense from him, given that his play around the diamond has never been rated positively. Then again, with his potentially league-worst bat, he would have to be a wizard with the glove just to be replacement-level.
If the stopgap the Marlins are looking for is a Betancourt-type player, Miami might as well stick with in-house options. The Fish could easily get the same performance from Ed Lucas or Chris Coghlan at the position without wasting half a season on a 32-year-old terrible player with no upside. Placido Polanco at least held the promise of a season or two of respectability left with his defensive play. Betancourt has not been a respectable player since the last presidency.
Please, Marlins front office, do not subject us to this torture.