Since 2011, Miami Marlins infielder Greg Dobbs has never had to fight for a roster spot. After making the club as a non-roster invitee, Dobbs has been a valuable asset off the bench in recent seasons, and was a lock when the 2014 roster was being formed.
But in order to make room for Ed Lucas on the 25-man roster, the Marlins designated Dobbs for assignment on Tuesday afternoon before facing the Atlanta Braves. With Rafael Furcal experiencing a setback in his recent rehab assignment, the Marlins reportedly wanted versatility, and Lucas provides exactly that.
Dobbs, 35, was a veteran presence and a primary pinch-hit option since he made the club in 2011 as a non-roster invitee. A left-handed hitter, Dobbs was considered part of the team's maturation process. In the middle of last season, he quietly negotiated a one-year, $1.7 million extension for 2014.
But Miami, already with second baseman Rafael Furcal on the disabled list, was looking for as much versatility as possible. Lucas, 31, provides that.
Dobbs appeared in 15 early games for Miami, but batted a mere .077 and didn't drive in a run. With Casey McGehee signed to play third base, Dobbs' playing time has been limited. If Garrett Jones sits against a lefty, Jeff Baker has started in his place.
Dobbs' best season as a Marlin came in 2012, when he batted .285 and got on base at a .313 clip while driving in 29 runs.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has been outspoken about how highly he speaks of Dobbs, and Loria ensured that Dobbs was under contract this season by renewing his deal in private last summer. The fact that Dobbs was designated for assignment could suggest that Loria has indeed relinquished control and has handed the power to General Manager Dan Jennings and President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill.
While the Marlins may not have an established lefty option off the bench as was the case when Dobbs was on the roster, Manager Mike Redmond is confident in his bench options.
A telling sign that the Marlins were looking in another direction came on April 21, when left-handed-hitting Derek Dietrich pinch-hit and delivered a double off Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning. Normally, that would have been a situation for Dobbs, who has 96 career pinch-hits.
Dobbs did not see action in the field in any games this season, and he was 1-for-13 as a pinch-hitter. Dobbs is a .262 career pinch-hitter.
Lucas opened the season on the disabled list after a pitch hit his left hand four days before the start of the season. He can play any of the infield positions, including catcher in the case of an emergency, and can give any infielder a day off. In Jupiter, Lucas went 6-for-14 in three rehab assignment games.
Miami will have ten days to trade Dobbs, however because of his slow start and age, other teams may wait until he becomes a free agent to try and add him to a roster.