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What center field options do the Marlins have left?

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Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins (31) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the ninth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest needs for the Marlins this offseason has been to acquire a center fielder via trade or free agency. Fish Stripes’ own Hector Rodriguez surveyed the market last month, but most of those options are no longer available. There is a new group of impact players that the team should be focused on evaluating during the MLB lockout.

Today we go over the options who have been linked most directly to the Marlins or those who make a lot of sense when connecting the dots. Be sure to take a listen to our friend Peter Pratt of Locked On Marlins for his takes on this topic.

Cedric Mullins (Baltimore Orioles)

Cedric Mullins was named an All-Star for the 2021 season (602 AB, 91 R, 175 H, 30 HR, 59 RBI, 30 SB, .291 BA, .360 OBP, .878 OPS). He is a great hitter and he has incredible defensive abilities in center field thanks to the kind of quickness that’s currently missing from the Marlins roster.

The issue with Mullins is that his trade value is sky high—it’s hard to imagine a trade getting done without the inclusion of a top prospect like Eury Pérez, Kahlil Watson or Max Meyer. It makes sense for the Marlins to go after Mullins, but they aren’t going to deplete their minor league system to get him.

Bryan Reynolds (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Bryan Reynolds might have been just as productive as Mullins in 2021 (559 AB, 93 H, 169 H, 24 HR, 90 RBI, 5 SB, .302 BA, .390 OBP, .912 OPS). Because he had a longer track record of MLB success in previous seasons, that makes him even more unrealistic as a trade possibility for this offseason. Reynolds still has four years of club control remaining. He is a great fit for Miami and would immediately become the best hitter on the Marlins, but the price is just way too high at the moment and the Pirates have no reason to drop it anytime soon.

Ketel Marte (Arizona Diamondbacks)

The Marlins expressed interest in Ketel Marte, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Marte was a great hitter this season when healthy (340 AB, 52 R, 108 H, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, .318 BA, .377 OBP, .909 OPS) and is on an efficient deal moving forward that includes team options for 2023 and 204. The 28-year-old switch-hitter gives you consistent at-bats and has the unique ability to split time between the infield and outfield. The Marlins and Diamondbacks have been frequent trade partners in recent years (Brad Ziegler for Tommy Eveld, Zac Gallen for Jazz Chisholm Jr., Starling Marte for Caleb Smith plus prospects). And just like the O’s and Bucs, the Dbacks don’t appear ready to contend at the major league level.

Once again, the issue is the other team’s asking price. The Marlins would be expected to trade away top-tier prospects. In Ketel’s case, you also need to worry about injuries—he couldn’t stay on the field much in 2021 (hamstring strains). Even taking that into account, he is the number two choice for who I want in CF for the Marlins.

Teoscar Hernández (Toronto Blue Jays)

At the very top of my list is Teoscar Hernández who is the perfect fit for the Marlins. He has played a decent amount of center field, he’s a good run producer (550 AB, 92 R, 163 H, 32 HR, 116 RBI, 12 SB, .296 BA, .346 OBP, .870 OPS) with power that would play in any ballpark, and the Blue Jays and Marlins are logical trade partners. Miami needs an outfielder while Toronto needs pitching.

Teoscar has club control through the 2023 season. The Marlins have rotation pieces in Pablo López and Elieser Hernandez who are at a similar stage of their careers. The Blue Jays are even more invested in contending right now than the Marlins are and will be focused on major leaguers over prospects in this kind of trade anyway. National reporters have said these teams had trade talks already and it would not be a surprise to see them re-engage those in the near future.


Internal Options

Avisaíl García (Miami Marlins)

Avisaíl García is 30 years old and he’s built much larger than the typical center fielder. But he did play the position regularly for a 2020 Brewers team that went to the playoffs. Having Avisaíl in center field opens up possibilities to acquire more impactful hitters like the rumored Kyle Schwarber.

Bryan De La Cruz (Miami Marlins)

One of the nicest surprises of the 2021 Marlins season was Bryan De La Cruz (199 AB, 17 R, 59 H, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 1 SB, .296 BA, .356 OBP, .783 OPS). He played good defense at all the outfield spots and is a consistent hitter from what we have seen so far. The goal is for DLC to be a fourth outfielder behind three superior power bats, but if the Marlins strike out this offseason in their search for that final piece, then he’s there as center field insurance.