Christian Yelich has been among the best left fielders in baseball after posting solid offensive numbers to this point in 2014. But according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, Yelich is not a lock to be the Marlins' starting left fielder in 2015.
Moving forward, Jackson notes the Marlins have internally discussed moving Yelich to first base and finding a replacement for him in left field. Garrett Jones' inconsistent bat has led to the Marlins questioning his future with the organization.
The Marlins want to add another bat this offseason and would be open to moving Christian Yelich to first base --– where he played in high school --- if they have better luck finding a quality free-agent left fielder than first baseman. One problem is that disappointing Garrett Jones is due $5 million next season. The Marlins would like to upgrade there nevertheless.
Yelich played first base in high school, and may provide the consistent offense expected of a first baseman. In 126 games, Yelich has batted .297/.376/.424 while driving in 51 runs and posting a 4.6 WAR. The power is still developing, as Yelich has just nine home runs on the season, but he is young enough to where such a move could benefit his career.
While the Marlins have slotted Yelich into the leadoff spot because there was a need after Rafael Furcal couldn't stay healthy, Yelich has always been thought of as a number two or even number three hitter. If he is moved to first base and his offensive production remains in the same range, the Marlins may have a long term first baseman.
Jones was signed to a two year contract after Pittsburgh moved on without him. He has batted .244/.311/.408 with 14 home runs and 50 RBIs in 130 games, but has been placed towards the bottom of the lineup, usually in the five or six spots.
Miami has been looking for first base stability for several seasons. Gaby Sanchez didn't prove to be the long term solution, and Logan Morrison struggled to stay healthy in his time with the Marlins. Miami doesn't have a first base prospect, and Justin Bour's age and inexperience could make him a questionable candidate.
Should the Marlins decide to move Yelich back to first base, they would need a left fielder. After trading Jake Marisnick, the team's outfield depth is not as notable. Alfonso Soriano, Mike Morse, Delmon Young, and Ryan Ludwick are among the 2015 free agent left fielders. The Marlins may not feel like they are upgrading the roster by adding a free agent outfielder, in which case they can evaluate Jones' performance over the 2015 season and go from there.
The Marlins are confident they can compete in 2015, and first base could be considered a position of need. If the Marlins want to remain competitive, Christian Yelich to first base may be something to watch for.