Giancarlo Stanton had one of baseball's best WARs, had posted 105 RBIs and hit 37 home runs before getting injured. And while the Marlins may not have a better outfield option, Manager Mike Redmond is prepared to go with the hottest bat available in right field.
Redmond told Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun-Sentinel that the Marlins will utilize the players on their bench without their National League MVP candidate in right field.
"Right now I would say we'll probably stick with the guys we have," Redmond said. "We have some extra bodies…We'll just have to mix and match and piece it together. We still do have some flexibility. We can't replace G, but we have to find some guys that can step in and give us some big hits and as much offense as we can possibly get."
In their first game without Stanton on Friday night in Philadelphia, the Marlins had Ed Lucas start in right field. Lucas has proven to be a valuable asset and has been a consistent utility player. He hasn't seen much time in the outfield, and is batting .247 with eight RBIs in 2014. Lucas got the start in right because Cole Hamels was on the mound, and Redmond may continue to put Lucas there against left-handed pitchers.
Garrett Jones does have outfield experience, having played a number of games in right field in his time with Pittsburgh. However, he may be better suited at first base considering the Marlins are likely to start him there again in 2015.
While Jones likely won't be shifted into the outfield, placing him there would allow the Marlins to get a look at Justin Bour. In 103 games with Triple-A, Bour batted .306/.372/.517 with 72 RBIs and 18 home runs. Jones will earn $5 million next season, but if his limited offensive production has led the Marlins to question his future, Bour may be the frontrunner to play first base. Getting him consistent playing time, something he has lacked in his first few stints with the Marlins, would allow a proper evaluation to follow.
Redmond also told The Sentinel Marcell Ozuna can shift to right field and Enrique Hernandez can play center. Ozuna is a natural right fielder and has a right fielder's arm, however Hernandez is expected to compete for the Marlins' starting second base job next season. If placing him in center is the only way Hernandez will get regular at-bats, it may prove to be beneficial. But it could be more logical for the Marlins to start him at second base.
The most obvious option, which would not alter other defensive positions, would be to place Reed Johnson in right field, as he was on Sunday afternoon. He is batting .220 with 22 RBIs, but has been a valuable asset off the bench and is a natural outfielder.
Stanton took pride in the fact that he was healthy all year, and knows how his presence can affect the rest of the lineup. None of the Marlins' other options to play right field have Stanton's power and offensive capabilities. Finding something relatively close to it will be the key to the rest of Miami's season.