It is never ideal when one of your best players gets injured two weeks prior to the start of the season. Martin Prado is entering his 12th season in the MLB; his third with the Miami Marlins. He will begin the year on the disabled list due to a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring.
This is the type of injury that requires rest to heal, but could easily linger throughout the entire season. Due to this, the Marlins will need to be prepared to replace his production not only in April, but from here on out. Let’s take a look at the potential replacements at third base.
1) Derek Dietrich
Analysis: It would be a huge surprise if Dietrich was not the opening day third basemen. When Dee Gordon was suspended 50 games last season, the 6’0” lefty from Cleveland, Ohio filled in admirably in his absence. Dietrich hit .279/.374/.425 in 412 PA, while compiling an impressive 117 wRC+ and 2.4 rWAR. Third Base is not his natural position, but he has gotten enough reps to be familiar with it. As long as his defense is passable, Dietrich is a patient hitter who can hold his own at the dish.
2) Miguel Rojas
Analysis: A good spring can help you make a roster, but it doesn’t guarantee playing time. Rojas will look to take his strong spring performance (12 hits in 30 at-bats) into the regular season. He will likely spend April as the first infielder off the bench; a role that suits his strong defensive acumen. If he wants to rival Dietrich for regular playing time, he will need to improve on his 2016 offensive production (.247/.288/.325 in 194 at-bats).
3) Matt Juengel
Analysis: It is very difficult to make the Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee. Juengel was really good a year ago at Triple-A New Orleans and Double-A Jacksonville (.266/.322/.423 in 466 AB), but not good enough to take up a 40-man roster spot. I still believe his best path to the big leagues is as a right-handed platoon partner to Justin Bour. Before that can become a reality, he will need to replicate last year’s performance while showing that he can handle first base.
4) Brian Anderson
Analysis: It is always exciting when a top prospect is so close to making the big league club, but you will have to wait a little bit longer. Although he has looked very impressive this spring (14 hits in 37 at-bats), Anderson has yet to make his Triple-A debut. His glove looks big league ready, but there needs to be more offensive growth before his professional debut can take place. If he can turn some of those doubles into homers, I think the Marlins will put him on the fast track to the show. Until then, it would be unfair to even consider him for the opening day gig.
5) Player Outside of Marlins Organization
Analysis: There are a couple veteran options still unsigned as the season nears. The White Sox recently released Brett Lawrie; Scott Gelman took a look at this possibility. Considering his injury history (he most likely won’t be healthy enough for opening day), I would stay away.
Another veteran option is Kelly Johnson. He is a proven bench bat and veteran leader, who can play every infield position. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that he is still looking for a major league contract. That would probably rule the Marlins out.
There will be a handful of veteran journeymen being released in the days leading up to Opening Day. The Marlins should keep an eye out for any appealing options, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. If a player is worth rostering, they probably won’t make it on to the waiver wire.