Capping off a busy weekend, the Marlins have reportedly reached a deal with free agent outfielder Matt Joyce. The news came late Saturday night via Twitter user @ChopOnCorey, then was confirmed Sunday by veteran MLB insiders Jon Heyman and Mark Feinsand. It’s safe to assume this is a one-year commitment, but additional details haven’t been reported yet.
Joyce has already acknowledged the news on Instagram:
The 35-year-old Florida native had a strong 2019 campaign with the Braves in a platoon role: .295/.408/.450, 128 wRC+, 7 HR, 1.2 fWAR in 238 PA.
Highest on-base percentage in MLB in 2019 (min. 200 PA)— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) January 26, 2020
1. Mike Trout, .438
2. Christian Yelich, .429
3. Alex Bregman, .413
4. Yordan Álvarez, .412
5. Anthony Rendon, .412
6. NEW MARLINS OUTFIELDER MATT JOYCE, .408
Additionally, Joyce has historically mashed Marlins pitching. His career .972 OPS against them is a personal best against any MLB team.
Have you ever seen Joyce and a left-handed pitcher in the same place? Seriously, this is fascinating—he’s been platooned in 86.6% of his major league plate appearances. The Tigers, Rays, Angels, Pirates, Athletics and Braves have all come to the same conclusion that he must be put in favorable matchups to be effective at the plate.
You may recall that last year, Curtis Granderson inked a minor league deal to be a left-handed outfield bat and serve as a big brother figure in Miami’s clubhouse. He earned a $1.75 million base salary after being added to the 40-man. My speculation is Joyce’s contract has comparable terms, perhaps with more substantial performance bonuses related to playing time.
While younger outfielders like Lewis Brinson, Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramirez seemingly have the inside track to Opening Day roster spots, each of them have minor league option(s) remaining. Through a combination of injuries and Spring Training struggles, the door could open for Joyce and/or former NL MVP Matt Kemp to contribute to the 2020 Fish.