The Marlins held their first full-squad workout of Spring Training on Monday. Observing the players in action and listening to comments from owner Bruce Sherman, president of baseball operations Michael Hill and manager Don Mattingly gave us a clearer understanding of how all of these versatile pieces may mesh together during the 2020 season.
Here are the main takeaways:
- The Jonathan Villar center field experiment is real—Mattingly indicated that he’ll be getting regular practice reps there early in camp. The 28-year-old has only eight career appearances in center during MLB regular season games (none of those were complete-game efforts), so there are some hurdles to clear before pencilling him in at the position for the 2020 Marlins. Even the player himself couldn’t confirm when he will debut there in an exhibition game, but Craig Mish of Swings and Mishes summarizes how this could impact the rest of Miami’s defensive alignment, notably Brian Anderson and Garrett Cooper.
So, if Villar is in CF that puts Brian Anderson back at 3B. That would mean plenty of at bats for Cooper in RF. Aguilar at 1B. Berti backup OF & IF should get plenty of at bats. Probably all premature but that’s where we are today.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 17, 2020
- Of course, the Marlins wouldn’t even be considering Villar in center if Lewis Brinson was panning out as hoped. Unfortunately, a .189/.238/.294 combined slash line since arriving in the Christian Yelich trade casts serious doubts about him earning a steady major league role of any kind. Fish On The Farm got a clear look at his batting practice round, featuring a familiar stance to the one he finished 2019 with, though perhaps not quite as closed off.
- During this particular workout, Villar took grounders at second base (which is where he spent most of last season). Anderson and Jon Berti played third with Miguel Rojas and non-roster invitee Sean Rodriguez at shortstop and Isan Díaz joining Villar at second. New first baseman Jesús Aguilar was used as expected, then challenged himself elsewhere on the diamond. He doesn’t seem bothered by the pressure...yet.
Marlins Shortstop Jesus Aguilar taking some ground balls in the infield. pic.twitter.com/13rK9i05z9— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 17, 2020
- Marlins majority owner Bruce Sherman was in attendance and more quotable than usual. First, on distinguishing himself from predecessor Jeffrey Loria (h/t WPLG Local 10):
“The past regime is irrelevant. When we closed October 2017, it was irrelevant. We made some choices. They were interfering with the day-to-day management. We continue to do what we do. We trust in our employees, the management—they’re the baseball experts. We let them do what’s necessary to win. No emotion, just business. So I think we’ve come a long way.”
Followed by his commitment to boost major league payroll as the rebuild continues to progress:
“We will try to sign all the players on this team to contract [extensions] when it’s appropriate...
“I don’t want to have up-and-downs, up-and-downs, and that’s a silly way to run a baseball club. Yes, we haven’t signed big free agents, but we will spend that money at the free agent deadline, to spend the money to have a sustainable winning culture on that team.”
Opening Day payroll currently projects to be in the $72-$74 million range, which is comparable to last year’s 105-loss team.
CEO Derek Jeter was planning to be at camp too, but felt sick and decided to stay home. He previously addressed a select group of fans at FanFest on Feb. 8.