The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Marlins worse than any other team in baseball. Unfortunately, the Fish won’t play at least until next week as 15 players and two staff members tested positive since Opening Day.
When they eventually get back to the field, the Marlins will probably be playing without most of the core they had entering the 2020 season. But after beginning the campaign with a 2-1 record and with the benefit of an expanded 16-team playoff format, it’s too soon to wave the white flag.
After claiming relievers Mike Morin, Josh D. Smith, and Justin Shafer off waivers, Miami can turn its head to free agents to ease notable absences. Combined with the other talented pieces already waiting inside their 60-man player pool, there’s still some hope of remaining competitive.
Is there anybody left in free agency at this point in time? Let’s explore some options who could be viable for the Fish.
OF Yasiel Puig
Puig has been linked to the Marlins before. They made a contract offer to him over the winter, but he wasn’t happy with the financial terms. Then, in mid-April, he reiterated to Jorge Ebro that he’d like to play in Miami because he’d be playing in front of his Cuban countrymen.
The Cuban right fielder—who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and couldn’t join the Braves—must be eager to play again in the bigs. And despite the crowded outfield that the Marlins had before the coronavirus outbreak, they now have an obvious opening for the “Wild Horse.”
If you’re wondering what it takes to sign Puig, the financial terms of the Braves’ offer are unknown, but it was just a one-year deal. He could represent a safe bet for the Marlins if they’re comfortable spending more than the league’s minimum salary.
INF Scooter Gennett
I know the Marlins activated veteran Sean Rodríguez, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Scooter Gennett wearing their colors? I mean, the guy hit 52 doubles, 50 home runs, and drove in 189 runs between 2017 and 2018. That is some high upside, and he’d probably come on a minors deal after playing in only 42 games last year and slashing .226/.245/.323.
Imagine that the Marlins hand a deal to a catcher that has been behind the plate for stars like Mark Buehrle, David Price, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Clayton Kershaw, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, and even Greg Maddux. Well, that’s Russell Martin, who’s still unemployed at 37 years old and after 14 MLB seasons.
Jorge Alfaro is currently on the injured list without a timetable to get back. That’s why the Fish—who are carrying catchers Francisco Cervelli and Chad Wallach (pending the reveal of their other infected players)—could take a flier on Martin. By the way, he was Cervelli’s teammate where they both played in New York.
In case the Marlins need another starting pitcher and don’t want to rush any of their prospects, they could turn to one of the veterans that are still looking for a job such as Cashner, Vargas, and Sánchez.
The most intriguing option has to be Sánchez. The 28-year-old righty was the AL ERA leader back in 2016 (3.00), but fell off the radar soon after that due in part to injuries. If fully recovered from right shoulder surgery, he can be given a chance to see if he can rebound.
The veteran Vargas —who threw for Florida between 2005 and 2006— hasn’t had a decent full season since 2017, when he won 18 and led the American League while pitching for the Royals. But he can serve as a back-end option for Don Mattingly’s rotation. And, hey, he can get his 100th win (he has a 99-99 lifetime record).
Regarding Cashner, he was acceptable last year for the Orioles before being traded to the Red Sox, where he really disappointed (6.20 ERA, 1.62 WHIP). You can see inconsistency by taking a look at his track record, but he’s only 33 and has a couple of good years behind him. He also has prior experience pitching for the Marlins, back in 2016.