The Marlins, now entering their 28th season, have never had a true “lifer”—a player who developed through their minor league system, peaked as a leader on their major league roster and amicably retired while wearing a Fish uniform. Instead, there’s been a long tradition of finding successful players, enjoying them for a few years...and shipping them off to other clubs in exchange for prospects. We have seen this cycle repeat over and over again. Out of the top-12 all-time Marlins WAR leaders, 11 of them wound up being traded during their tenure.
Brian Anderson is ready to change the narrative.
“At the end of the day, I’ve only been with the Marlins,” Anderson said in a Zoom call with the media on Wednesday. “They’ve obviously given me an incredible opportunity here, so I would love to stay here.”
The 27-year-old is currently on a one-year contract and is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. Although he doesn’t become an unrestricted free agent until after 2023, some people around Miami have already discussed their desire to see Brian Anderson receive the first big contract extension of the Derek Jeter era.
Anderson is one of the few remaining carryovers from the Loria regime, having been in the Marlins system since 2014. He played his first full major league season in 2018, and immediately caught the eye of Marlins fans. In the aftermath of blockbuster trades that depleted the roster of its brightest stars, Anderson was a bright spot in a Marlins lineup that was one of the worst in the league. Through the first half of the year, there was a legitimate argument that he could win NL Rookie of the Year, slashing ,288/.363/.429 with 8 home runs. He also showed his fielding versatility by moving from third base to right field in late April, and posting an impressive .994 fielding percentage despite never playing that position in the majors. Although his second-half production wasn’t quite as impressive, he still finished fourth in NL ROY voting.
He followed up in 2018 by reaching a career high in home runs (20), RBI (66), and OPS (.811) in just 126 games last season before suffering a season-ending hand injury.
For a team that has plenty of young talent to boast, manager Don Mattingly said that Anderson is one of the big keys for the rebuilding blueprint.
“We feel like he’s part of our core guys moving forward,” Mattingly said. “You can win with this guy.”
Anderson himself also sees what Jeter and his group have done since taking over, including building a top-end farm system through the draft and trades, as well as adding important veteran clubhouse leaders.
“I love the direction that we’re going in,” Anderson said. “I love hearing Derek (Jeter) talk about expecting to win. That’s something that he’s drilled into our brains. When we show up, we’re expected to win. That’s something that I think these younger guys really respect and that they’re on board with.”
Coming up on year three and having only 60 games to play this season, a lot of people within the organization are starting to ask “why not us?” If the Marlins are indeed going to make a playoff push, they know that it will at least be partially on the back of Brian Anderson.