In order to continue progressing from rebuilding to contending, the Marlins have been making major changes to their lineup. Even though you won’t see a surefire MVP candidate on the level of Giancarlo Stanton or Christian Yelich, these new pieces collectively put the Fish in a better position to produce runs than they had been the previous two seasons.
Last offseason in particular, the Miami front office was very active and brought in veterans with legitimate major league track records. Health permitting, they are a good bet to improve upon the 2019 version that registered the second-worst runs per game average in the bigs (3.80).
But the heavy lifting has not been limited to a single year. Let’s see where each member of the projected Marlins Opening Dat batting order came from.
Catcher Jorge Alfaro
Alfaro was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Texas Rangers in 2010. Five years later, back in 2015, he was involved in the Cole Hamels traded pulled off by the Rangers and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Colombian spent three major-league seasons in Philly and developed himself as one of the best catching prospects in the league. After his first 100-game campaign, the Marlins acquired him along with RHP Sixto Sánchez and LHP Will Stewart by sending superstar J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies on February 7, 2019.
The Miami Marlins have acquired catcher Jorge Alfaro, right-handed pitcher Sixto Sánchez, left-handed pitcher Will Stewart and international bonus pool money from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for catcher J.T. Realmuto.— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) February 7, 2019
Welcome to Miami, gentlemen! pic.twitter.com/czlpQGEYsy
While he played in 130 games and hit 18 home runs in his first season as a Marlin, Alfaro still looks like a work in progress. He should be able to hit for more power if he adjusts his swing and gains more plate discipline.
First baseman Jesús Aguilar
This slugger was part of the Cleveland Indians organizations for almost 10 years, before the Brewers selected him off waivers in February 2017. In Milwaukee, he became their regular first baseman and slugged 51 dingers across 282 games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Aguilar slumped through 94 games and was sent to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Jake Faria. The Venezuelan lasted only the second half of the campaign over the AL East, until the Marlins claimed him off waivers last year, on December 2.
Second baseman Isan Díaz
Díaz hasn’t stopped packing since he was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in June 2014. In January 2016, the D-Backs traded him with Chase Anderson and Aaron Hill to the Brewers for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner.
Two years later, Miami acquired him in the Christian Yelich trade, along with OF Monte Harrison, OF Lewis Brinson, and RHP Jordan Yamamoto. Díaz appeared in 49 games in his MLB debut, in 2019. Although he was solid in Triple-A (.305/.395/.578), he struggled in the big leagues (.173/.259/.307). The Puerto Rican will have time to prove himself in 2020, whenever the season begins.
Third baseman Brian Anderson
After he decided not to sign with the Minnesota Twins in the 2011 amateur draft, the Marlins selected him three years later (2014) in the third round. Anderson evolved year by year and got to the MLB in 2017.
He had his first complete season in 2018 and developed as a true slugger during the last campaign, in which he smacked 33 doubles and 20 home runs in 459 at-bats, with a .811 OPS. Brian is poised for a breakout season in 2020 and you can read this article to find out why.
Shortstop Miguel Rojas
The new captain was originally signed by the Reds, in 2005. He never made it to the bigs with Cincinnati and was released in 2012. Ten days later, the Dodgers handed him a contract and he got to the MLB in 2014.
But it was in December that the Marlins acquired him from Los Angeles with 2B Dee Gordon and RHP Dan Haren. In exchange, they sent Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, Andrew Heaney, and Kiké Hernández.
So far, the Venezuelan is established as the Fish starting shortstop and has taken over the captain role since Martín Prado left the squad. He’s a popular, beloved man in Miami and is under control since at least 2022 (that year is a team option).
Left Fielder Corey Dickerson
The Miami Marlins have signed outfielder Corey Dickerson to a two-year contract through the 2021 season.— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) January 7, 2020
Welcome to the family, Corey! pic.twitter.com/Ld0IhidBip
Dickerson was one of the veterans welcomed by the Marlins during the offseason. He was their only major expense among free agents, as he landed a 2-YR/$17.5MM contract to reinforce their outfield.
The 30-year-old veteran had an amazing 34-game run with the Phillies after they acquired him from the Pirates. Dickerson, in general, slashed .304/.341/.565 through 78 appearances between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Remember this stat from last season: 53.2 percent of his total hits went for extra bases!
Center Fielder Jonathan Villar
After playing in Houston from 2013 to 2015, Villar was traded to the Brewers in November 2015. It was in Milwaukee where he became a world-class base-stealer and saw everyday action. Right before the 2018 trade deadline, the Orioles acquired the Dominican plus two others for infielder Jonathan Schoop.
Villar had a .270/.338/.438 slash line along with 61 stolen bases on 73 attempts in his O’s career, but with his salary rising, they sent him to the Marlins to receive minor leaguer LHP Easton Lucas. The speedy, versatile man will be a free agent when the uncertain 2020 season ends.
Right Fielder Garrett Cooper
Cooper ended up being a great discovery from the Marlins. At the age of 26, he made his majors debut with the Yankees in 2017, but there wasn’t a clear spot for him on the roster, so they shipped him away in what has been one of the most successful trades in the Marlins recent history. The Fish received him and LHP Caleb Smith for righty Mike King on November 20, 2017.
The first baseman/outfielder figured things out last season, playing in 107 games and smacking 16 doubles plus 15 home runs while driving 50 runs in 2019. He’s slated to handle an important role again for Miami this upcoming season.