The Miami Marlins made a surprise move earlier this week when they did not tender contracts to two players. One of those players was 2009 Rookie of the Year and one of the organization's favorite sons, outfielder Chris Coghlan. The move came as a surprise because Coghlan was heading into just his first arbitration season and the arbitration projection system created by Matt Swartz projected his salary to be just $0.8 million next season.
It was thought Miami was clearing some salary space potentially for the Jarrod Saltalamacchia free agent signing, but it turns out Miami still has $9 million left in budget room to fill out its roster. Part of that budget may very well go to Coghlan, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
#Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said team is still trying to re-sign Chris Coghlan, who was non-tendered Monday
— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) December 4, 2013
This comes as no surprise to Marlins fans who have endured Coghlan's Major League escapades for the last few seasons. Since his impressive Rookie of the Year season, in which he beat out 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen (probably wrongfully), Coghlan has hit just .242/.307/.352 (.292 wOBA) in 1017 plate appearances. Miami gave him chance after chance to be one of the team's starting outfielders, even having the confidence to move him to center field after two mediocre defensive seasons in left field.
All of the moves were for naught, as Coghlan struggled at the plate and was a poor defensive center fielder. Even as late as last season, Miami was still giving him chances over better players like Justin Ruggiano. But when Miami released him, it seemed like a bit of a premature move. Yes, Coghlan has been terrible, but he has had undue circumstances surrounding his play. He suffered multiple leg and back injuries that have helped to keep him off the field, and those may have been due in part to his being forced to play the outfield and patrol more room that he is capable of doing. But last season, Miami was considering playing Coghlan at third base, Coghlan's position in college, and the Fish still have a third base hole this year.
Marlins fans can hope that the interest in bringing back Coghlan is in bringing him back into the infield as well. At this point, Coghlan's career as an outfielder has been disastrous outside of 2009. It is worth seeing if he can handle the infield defensively after years of being an outfielder by "necessity." And given that Coghlan is a left-handed hitter with significant platoon splits (career .279/.344/.410 hitter versus righties, career .242/.315/.329 hitter versus lefties), Miami has a perfect platoon fit with him and one of the team's backup infielders. Even without an external addition, Miami could platoon Coghlan with Ed Lucas or Donovan Solano at third base and test his mettle there.
At this point, with Coghlan's expected salary so low, there is no reason for Miami not to simply give it a try with him provided they play him in the infield. He is blocking no one talented there for at least another season and a half, and it may the team's final chance to get value out of one of their favorite players. For years, I have advocated Miami shed Coghlan once and for all. But given this upcoming season's circumstances, one more year in the right spot would be the right move for the Marlins.
What do you Fish Stripers think? Should Miami bring back Chris Coghlan? Where should he play? Let us know in the comments.
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