It’s not a secret that the Marlins outfield is one of the weakest points of the team. In 2019, they compiled a 1.2 fWAR and an 83 wRC+ among the three spots (both were worst in the National League), so signing a good, established OF is a priority for a team that needs to upgrade its offense.
Right now, the Fish must be cautious, especially when pursuing players who require a multi-year deal. They’re in the middle of a rebuilding process and need to spend money wisely to fill their holes.
We’ve brought four names to the table that we believe are on the Marlins’ radar and could fit into the team’s long-term plans. Vote for your preference at the bottom of the article!
The Marlins watched Ozuna grow up in their farm system until he became an offensive threat. In 2017, his last season as a member of the team, the “Big Bear” had his best campaign—30 doubles, 37 home runs, 124 runs batted in—and then was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Although those great stats dipped a bit during the past two seasons with the Cards, the Dominican still has a powerful bat. He slugged 52 balls out of the park between 2018 and 2019, plus two more in October during his first career postseason appearance.
Ozuna’s believed to be seeking a lucrative contract that goes hand in hand with his production and his age (turned 29 on Tuesday). The Giants and the Reds are among the organizations that have expressed interest in his services.
After rejecting the qualifying offer, Ozuna is attached to a draft pick until draft day, so signing him would mean sacrificing a significant asset in the Marlins’ rebuilding process. At the same time, those conditions may deter other teams from bidding for him, limiting the ultimate contract cost.
A comeback to the organization in which he became a star could be tempting for Ozuna. Marcell would automatically be inserted into the heart of the lineup and give Miami a scary offensive presence.
2) Yasiel Puig
A Cuban in Miami is a good match in most cases. And even though this one seems unlikely, the “Wild Horse” must be mentioned. Judging every free-agent outfielder, Puig is the one closer to offer the precious five-tool package—he has good legs, nice glove, can hit for power, his average’s not bad, and his arm can leave you speechless.
Also an advantage, Puig knows what is to be on a winning team, after six consecutive postseason appearances with the Dodgers. He’s not 29 yet (will be that age on December 7) and his aggressive style of play can spark a whole dugout.
This year, the Cienfuegos native hit 30 doubles along with 24 four-baggers, drove in 84 runs and scored 76 times. He recorded a .267/.327/.458 slash line in 149 games between the Reds and the Indians.
Puig is valuable, no doubt. But are the Marlins willing to reunite him with his former skipper Don Mattingly? According to the L.A. Times, the slugger “had a strained relationship” and was “barely on speaking terms” with the current manager of the Fish in their last tenure together.
More so than the other outfield options, Puig would be a boon to the club’s marketability. The comfort of playing in South Florida where he already has an offseason home may bring out the best in his performance. Still, the other factors make him somewhat risky.
This young man is all you want on a rebuilding team—he’s only 27, stays out of trouble, has durability, and his offensive abilities result in constant production.
In 2019, Castellanos led MLB in doubles (58), hit 27 dingers, and collected 73 RBIs. He finished the year having an incredible 51-game run with the Cubs, in which he hit for .321/.356/.646. That strong showing for Chicago might have raised his value, but this is the guy you want to sign to a five- or six-year deal.
Born in Florida, Castellanos was evaluated by the Marlins before the 2010 MLB Draft. Despite spending so many years in the American League, they know him well.
Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill said they’re “open to everything” and “not closing any doors with opportunities [...] to get better,” so signing Castellanos and make him the center of the rebuild remains a possibility for the Fish.
The most affordable of the four. “Avi” just came off a productive season for the Rays, where he registered 25 doubles, 20 homers, 72 ribbies, plus a .796 OPS across 125 games. García probably won’t be your 40-dinger guy, but he’d be a nice complement to a lineup that includes Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper.
The Venezuelan certainly would address several of the Marlins’ needs, but his inconsistent track record could be a concern. If those problems are part of the past, then García would represent a productive, veteran presence in a lineup that lost Martín Prado and Starlin Castro.
It’s important to consider that if the Marlins sign the right fielder, they won’t have to attach to a large contract. It would probably take a friendly two-year agreement to get García into the batting order. That way, the Fish would maintain full financial flexibility for the future.
Who do you think is the best fit for the Marlins?
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