First and foremost, the trades provide much-needed financial relief to an ownership group that’s desperate to turn a profit. The Marlins also receive some controllable young talent in return, legitimate prospects expected to lead the franchise back to relevance in the 2020s.
In the here and now, however, this activity has left voids in Miami’s major league outfield. Next season, manager Don Mattingly will still submit lineup cards before every game and identify three players to handle left, center and right. Assuming Christian Yelich is a one of them (perhaps not a safe assumption), who else should fans get used to watching on a regular basis?
Expect the front office to dig deep within the organization, then rummage through the lowest tier of free agency.
Lee isn’t even considered the best “Braxton” in the Marlins farm system, trailing former first-rounder Braxton Garrett.
But he’s earned this. Acquired during the Adeiny Hechavarria trade in June, the Mississippi native demonstrated great on-base skills at Double-A (batted .309/.395/.384 overall). Lee validated that performance in the Arizona Fall League (.347/.398/.400), also impressing with his speed by stealing eight bases in just 20 games. He was named to the AFL’s Top Prospects Team as the Marlins’ lone representative.
The 24-year-old has spent most of his professional career in center field.
Weeks before the notorious Stanton deal, Derek Jeter and company finalized a much quieter trade with the New York Yankees. In addition to left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith, it brought them Cooper. He’s coming off a breakout year in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system and his first cup of coffee in the big leagues (batted .326/.333/.488 through 13 games).
Cooper can fill Stanton’s shoes, but only in the most literal sense (listed at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds). Heading into his age-27 campaign, he has less than 300 innings of outfield experience, all in the minors and all at the corner spots.
In 2017, Norwood led the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in a wide variety of statistical categories: games, hits, home runs, runs scored, runs batted in, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and outfield assists.
Like Lee, he hasn’t played at the Triple-A level yet. Unlike Lee, he didn’t get sent to the Arizona Fall League for additional seasoning. So while Norwood should have an opportunity to debut with the Marlins eventually, the Opening Day roster appears to be a long shot.
Norwood’s former Jumbo Shrimp teammate ranks directly behind him on MLB Pipeline’s list of the club’s top prospects. Dean is a year younger—turned 24 in October—despite spending two extra seasons in pro ball.
Even in the minors, shaky defensive abilities limit him to left-field duties.
Barring a monster spring training, look for Dean to make an impact toward the end of 2018.
Rule 5 draft selections
It would be an upset if the Marlins didn’t take a flyer on somebody during Thursday morning’s Rule 5 draft. In a two-part preview, Asher Feltman’s Minor League Ball has a refresher on which organizational players are eligible and most intriguing.
The outfielders that Feltman names includes Ryan O’Hearn (Kansas City Royals) and Ian Miller (Seattle Mariners).
The draft order is determined by the final 2017 standings (worst pick first), so Miami has the 13th selection in each round.
He’ll produce a nice GIF on occasion, but we already know what Dietrich offers as an outfielder...and it’s not ideal.
He saw considerable action there in 2015 (Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich all missed significant time). Used exclusively in left, Dietrich accounted for -8 Defensive Runs Saved in 46 games. Only Brad Miller—who has since returned to being a full-time infielder—did more damage in less playing as an outfielder that summer, per FanGraphs.
The 30-year-old journeyman signed a minor league deal in November. Add him to the active roster, re-sign A.J. Ellis and reacquire AJ Ramos, and the Marlins will have cornered the market on initial-based nicknames!
Shuck struggles with the bat (career .251/.299/.328, 75 wRC+), but at least he can contribute at any of the three outfield positions.
Given the choice to retain the future Hall of Famer on a $2 million option or purge him from the payroll, the Marlins went with the predictable move. Ichiro is coming off a Shuck-like season (.255/.318/.332, 75 wRC+), although it was tough to stay in rhythm when the All-Star outfield ahead of him on the depth chart never came out of the lineup.
The 44-year-old is motivated to extend his career as long as possible. Also, it doesn’t seem like all his Marlins relationships have soured quite yet.
Don’t rule out a reunion later in the offseason.
Former NL Rookie of the Year with Miami! World Series champion! A highlight machine!
If you’re not going to try to win, at least try something.
Perez was quietly one of the longest-tenured members of the entire Marlins organization prior to being released last month. He signed as an amateur free agent in December 2008 and stayed on the farm for nearly a decade after that.
Fun fact: his 1.000 slugging percentage at the major league level is tied for the best in franchise history among all the players who have ever recorded an at-bat, according to Baseball-Reference.
At a time when stolen bases are being de-emphasized around Major League Baseball, it would be refreshing to start the speedster and give him the eternal “green light” whenever—and if ever—he gets on first.