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2016 Miami Marlins Season Preview: Bench players

The Marlins have stocked their bench mostly with veterans with some name recognition but minimal Major League talent left in the tank.

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

The Miami Marlins are really banking on their starting lineup to make it through the 2016 season healthy and capable, because the team's bench is mostly light on talent with the exception of one potential young player who could contribute as a starter depending on the position he plays. The team's lack of depth is in large part due to a difficult farm system situation, but the club did not help the matter by investing money into now-marginal talents who may not be able to help long-term if pressed for duty.

Jeff Mathis, C

Mathis is eternalMathis is infallible, Mathis can never be defeated. The Marlins picked up Mathis's option last season to play backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and eventually J.T. Realmuto, but this season they had every reason to let him go. However, Mathis somehow returned on a similar contract as he has had the last few years and will bring his gritty veteran know-how and career .194/.254/.306 (.248 wOBA) batting line back up to the majors. Meanwhile, Tomas Telis will hang out in the minors with nothing to do but catch in Triple-A at age 24.

Projection: 125 PA, -0.1 WAR

Chris Johnson, 1B/3B

Johnson signed a veteran's minimum contract with the Marlins primarily to serve as a right-handed backup to the corner infield spots. Presumably, his primary role was going to serve as the team's platoon option for first baseman Justin Bour, who is a traditional lefty slugger who struggled against lefties in the minors and bigs. But it appears the Marlins are uninterested in platooning Bour with Johnson because they want to develop Bour first before relegating him. As a result, Johnson will likely serve as a once-weekly starter against lefties at first before likely moving into the platoon role. The good news is that Johnson hits lefties well, with a career .314/.350/.436 career line (.341 wOBA). The bad part is that he has not done that well in some time, and even with last year's halfway passable line versus lefties, he is still a liability at the plate.

Projection: 250 PA, -0.4 WAR

Derek Dietrich, UT

Dietrich figures to play a little bit everywhere, splitting time as the team's designated hitter in American League parks and backing up second and third base on rest days for the appropriate players. He also might get time at first base, especially if an injury occurs to Bour. The assumption here is that Dietrich will receive at least close to 200 plate appearances at various different positions, but his left-handedness has left him out of any straight platoon opportunities. Martin Prado owns the third base position until he is potentially traded at midseason; that sort of deal might the best opportunity for Dietrich to earn more playing time by the end of the year.

Projection: 250 PA, 0.5 WAR

Miguel Rojas, UT

Rojas is a strong defender and a poor bat, though he did hit marginally well in 2015 in limited playing time for Miami. He never projects to get much in terms of his hitting, but he is the team's only capable shortstop to back up Adeiny Hechavarria, so he will likely hold a main roster spot for most of the year.

Projection: 125 PA, 0.1 WAR

Ichiro Suzuki, OF

Ichiro is the team's primary backup outfielder and he too figures to get plenty of playing time as the team's replacement for any of the corners and at designated hitter in AL games. Ichiro is no longer a threat at the plate, insomuch as he was ever a "threat" so much as a highly effective but limited hitter in the past. Now he is just limited, having lost his previously golden BABIP skills with age. The 42-year-old will probably serve a lot of time being the primary replacement if Giancarlo Stanton goes down with injury.

Projection: 300 PA, -0.3 WAR

The remainder of the Marlins figure to fill in around replacement-level production, meaning the bench as a group is likely to put up -0.2 WAR, or just about replacement level production. This will vary depending on level of health and the state of the roster after the trade deadline, but essentially the bench will provide minimal relevant production for the Fish.