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Deep Sea Fishing: José Iglesias

The native of Havana, Cuba is a human highlight reel who can give the Marlins some needed infield depth.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Time to spend Bruce Sherman’s and Derek Jeter’s money! Entering the third year under new Marlins ownership, fans expect to see significant improvement at the major league level. Some of that improvement will surely come from within, but prospects—as they say—will break your heart. Successful MLB rebuilds make sure to surround their young cores with veterans who can bring credibility and reliable production. Free agent additions figure to be critically important to keeping the Fish on track.

To date, the largest investment that the Sherman/Jeter Marlins have made in any free agent was $5.25 million for Cuban outfielder Víctor Víctor Mesa. “Deep Sea Fishing” is a series of profiles on established, available players—all of them projected to cost more than Víctor Víctor—who should be seriously considered by the front office.

2019 team(s): Reds

2019 salary: $2.5 million

2020 season age: 30

Marlins connection? None...unless you count the fact that he hails from Havana, Cuba.

Why the Marlins should want him

The Cincinnati Reds picked up the $5.5 million option of middle infielder Freddy Galvis. The commitment to a middle infield of Galvis and José Peraza all but confirms that they’re moving on from unrestricted free agent shortstop José Iglesias. The Miami Marlins, meanwhile, declined Starlin Castro’s $16 million option for 2020. That freed up significant cash while also thinning their infield depth going into next year.

Iglesias, a former All-Star with the Detroit Tigers, will turn 30 this offseason and is coming off his best year offensively, hitting .288/.318/.407 in a career-high 530 plate appearances. Those numbers aren’t bad for someone who was signed to a minor league deal in late February and only expected to factor into the Reds’ offense in the event of an injury.

Widely regarded as a flashy defensive shortstop since debuting with the Boston Red Sox in 2011, Iglesias would give the Marlins some much needed flexibility up the middle. He was an AL Gold Glove finalist in 2016. Across 144 games in 2019, he had a fielding percentage of .980. An addition of Iglesias would allow manager Don Mattingly to fully embrace his roster’s defensive versatility, like putting Rojas at third and Brian Anderson and/or Jon Berti in the outfield.

This addition will not make the Marlins a contender in 2020. However, it’s a move that they can benefit from short term while waiting on shortstop prospects such as Jazz Chisholm and José Devers to matriculate through the high minors.

One of the goals of the Marlins this offseason should be creating interest for the casual fan. Wells Dusenbury of the Sun Sentinel reported after the end of the regular season that Marlins’ TV ratings were down 14 percent, and the attendance issues have been well publicized. A common gripe with Major League Baseball is that they don’t market their players and in turn, it leads to deceased fan interest. Iglesias, who defected from Havana, Cuba, and makes incredible defensive plays look routine, is undoubtedly a player that Miami fans can get behind.

Why the Marlins might not get him

Iglesias made it clear during the season that he was open to returning to the Reds, but Cincinnati opted to bring back Galvis instead, who was waived by the Toronto Blue Jays in mid-August. His improved offensive numbers while playing on a minor league contract may lead Iglesias to wanting something longer and more lucrative than the Marlins are willing to give.

Last season was somewhat of an outlier for Iglesias when it came to staying on the field. His 146 games were a career high. He missed the entire 2014 season with stress fractures in both shins, stayed healthy and made the All-Star team in 2015, and had DL stints the next three seasons with the Tigers. The injury history is certainly a factor to consider when signing a shortstop entering his age-30 season.

Iglesias frequently keeps the ball on the ground and doesn’t work deep counts. Those were both severe issues for the Marlins offense last year that they’re trying to move past.

Be sure to bookmark and check in frequently as the Deep Sea Fishing series continues...