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The Marlins need to be prepared to let people go

Will this be the final year for players like Isan Díaz or Lewis Brinson with the Marlins? Time to analyze.

Lewis Brinson #25 of the Miami Marlins looks up after being tagged out on a rundown play at third base in the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at loanDepot park Photo by Bryan Cereijo/Getty Images

The Marlins are trying to put themselves in a good position to compete in the upcoming seasons. Some of their rebuilding moves have returned exciting young pieces who are emerging as candidates for that competitive core, while others have simply failed to pan out. They’re getting to a point where it’s necessary to debug their major league roster—by that I mean, letting go of people who have exhausted their opportunities in order to create space for the next wave of talent.

Weeks ago, The Miami Herald reported that the Marlins were planning to part ways with catcher/outfielder Jorge Alfaro to seek another catcher on the open market or via trade. In three seasons with the Fish, Alfaro has put up a 0.1 bWAR and a poor .251/.297/.386 batting slash line. Showing him the exit is a good start, but merely the first step.

Two more similar cases come up to mind: Lewis Brinson and Isan Díaz. The clock is ticking for them.

Let’s start with Brinson. While it’s true there has been a slight offensive improvement, Brinson has failed to prove whether he can be an everyday player. Over five MLB seasons and 321 games (through Friday), he has a -2.5 bWAR, way more strikeouts (296) than hits (192), and a .200 batting average.

I’d consider Brinson a non-tender candidate. He is due a pay raise in 2022 as a first-time arbitration eligible player that is difficult to justify for somebody who has always struggled to get on base. The Marlins instead should redistribute his playing time to prospects or shop for a new pickup who can be more productive and really help the team get some extra wins. However, a strong finish to the 2021 season for Brinson could at least make this decision less clear-cut.

Then, there’s Díaz. Unfortunately, Isan hasn’t been able to hit against big-league pitching. Despite dazzling in the minor leagues and memorably homering off Jacob deGrom in his Marlins debut, he’s taking the same path as Brinson. His .182/.270/.287 slash line across 488 plate appearances (140 games) and over three different campaigns puts him in an ugly position, and he is not doing much better with the glove.

And I know Díaz is 25 years old. He is not necessarily in his prime yet. There is the potential to be better than he has shown so far. But, again, the Marlins can’t keep wasting time. Only select players deserve a lengthy development period in the majors.

Unlike Brinson, Díaz will still have a minor league option remaining for next year. With Miguel Rojas and Jazz Chisholm Jr. locked in as Miami’s middle infield duo, I can imagine the Marlins bringing Isan into Spring Training and sending him to Triple-A for more seasoning and everyday action. However, the team should also be pursuing additional infielders, especially with the news of Brian Anderson’s shoulder surgery, pushing Isan further down the depth chart.

To convince their fanbase to keep the faith in this rebuilding process, the Marlins need to execute right now. Expect them to have one of baseball’s busy offseasons in 2021-22.

What would you do with guys like Brinson and Díaz? Is it time to dump them, option them to the minors, or continue with the status quo? Leave us your thoughts in the comments.