Miami wanted to see if Derek Dietrich was the long term solution at second base upon acquiring him after the fire sale trade with Toronto. But as a result of defensive miscues and injury concerns, the Marlins have had to turn to Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas to start consistently at second.
As a result of his inability to establish himself as a regular major league player, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro recently noted Dietrich can be a candidate to change positions this offseason.
Dietrich was injured for most of the 2014 campaign, appearing only in 49 games and posting a .228/.326/.386 line to complement five home runs and 31 RBIs. He was reportedly never thought of as a notable power hitter, however while he was healthy proved he is capable of being a 20 home run-type batter.
In his short time with the Marlins, Dietrich's most obvious issue is his defense. He played second base for most of his minor league career, but had trouble on what appeared to be considerably routine plays with Miami (10 errors last season). Such mistakes led to him spending time with both Triple-A New Orleans and the major league club on several occasions in 2014.
While he can be an intriguing offensive option, the Marlins have not been clear about their plans for Dietrich. They can give him more time to develop, or can put him in what will likely be a battle for the starting second base job beginning in the spring. Dietrich is a left-handed hitter, which works in his favor considering the Marlins have struggled to put together a balanced lineup over the last few seasons.
Frisaro noted that Dietrich can either move to first base or become an outfielder. He can also become a third baseman, however the Marlins seemed satisfied enough with Casey McGehee's production and defensive stability to keep him at third for at least another season.
Turning Dietrich into an outfielder wouldn't make much sense for the Marlins, considering they had one of baseball's best outfields in 2014. Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton are expected to return in center and right field, respectively, and while Christian Yelich may become a first baseman, it doesn't seem likely.
Having Dietrich play first base may prove to be beneficial from an offensive perspective. He has proven he has power, and his bat is still developing. The biggest concern with putting Dietrich at first base would be how he would perform defensively, considering second base hasn't been notably easy for him.
If he can be more patient at the plate and be more disciplined defensively, Dietrich can develop into a player the Marlins will want on their roster in the years to come. But if he struggles to become consistent, trading a proven major league infielder (Yunel Escobar) could become something the Marlins regret doing