Yes, according to Don Mattingly, Giancarlo Stanton is officially out for at least the remainder of the regular season with a serious groin injury he sustained sliding into second base on Saturday. I know it seems bad now, but it is not the end of the world for the Marlins.
Stanton has had injuries in the past, and the Marlins are hoping he is not becoming an injury-prone player, but right now the front office needs to figure out how to replace Stanton’s production.
Miami will quickly start to look at options to fill the big shoes left by Giancarlo Stanton, who really wasn’t having one of his best seasons. He was slashing .244/.329/.496 in 103 games, which is the lowest average and the second-lowest on-base and slugging percentages of his career. His 2016 strikeout rate, which sits at 30.3 percent, is also Stanton’s highest since his rookie year.
The Marlins will start by looking for a solid in-house option to replace Stanton, and Ichiro Suzuki is currently the top choice to take over in right field. Although most of the Ichiro talk this year has been about his 3,000th hit, he has quietly hit .319 with an OBP of .389, both much higher than Stanton, but in almost 200 fewer plate appearance of course. Ichiro still gives Miami great defense in right field even at the age of 42 and has great numbers against both righties and lefties.
The problem for the Marlins is they don’t know if Ichiro is ready to take over as an everyday player because he has only had 240 plate appearances this season. He has also cooled off at the plate in the second half, hitting only .209 since July 18.
Justin Bour will return to the lineup at some point, but he is not an outfielder, and neither are the other guys who are battling for playing time in the infield. Miami could try to convert one of those infielders, such as Derek Dietrich or Miguel Rojas, into an outfielder, but they may not want to sacrifice defense for guys who aren’t slugging over .415.
There are two possible prospect options in the minor leagues to fill Stanton’s spot for the remainder of 2016. 22-year-old Austin Dean is ranked as Miami’s number six overall prospect and number one outfield prospect by MLB.com, but he has not exactly been tearing it up in Double-A Jacksonville this year. He is slashing .244/.318/.385 with 11 home runs in 2016, which is nothing eye-opening. The other guy is Destin Hood, a 26-year-old outfielder who could be a September call-up anyway for the Marlins. Hood is slashing .269/.319/.450 with 14 home runs at Triple-A New Orleans. Hood is MLB.com’s 30th ranked Marlins prospect, but has power that could translate to the show.
Looking outside of the organization is another viable option for Miami, and I’m not talking about Alex Rodriguez. Marlins management says they have interest in A-Rod, but he has already been written about enough. The best player to go after could be Carlos Gomez, who was recently designated for assignment by the Houston Astros. Gomez was hitting only .210 with a strikeout rate of 31 percent and a WAR of -0.4 in 85 games with Houston, which is why he was DFA’d, but his track record shows that he can still produce. Although Gomez has only hit five home runs so far in 2016, he hit 59 homers over his previous three seasons.
Gomez will also be a low-risk signing. He would only be owed $2.51 million for the rest of the season if he is claimed off of waivers, which can become a huge steal if he begins to produce numbers anywhere close to the ones he had with the Milwaukee Brewers. It has also been reported that there is interest in Gomez from the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost outfielder Matt Holiday for an extended period of time due to a fractured thumb he suffered this month. The Marlins are fighting with the Cardinals for that second wild card spot, so signing Gomez could not only help Miami, but also keep him away from St. Louis.
The one thing I don’t expect the Marlins to do is try to trade for an outfielder who has gone through waivers. They have already mortgaged enough of their future in trades for Andrew Cashner and Fernando Rodney, and with the rest of the offense producing so well, the need for another outfield is not too pressing.