When you think of free agency, you think of these names: established MLB players who will sign contracts this winter for seven, eight or even nine figures. The Marlins must be more active and more efficient in that area moving forward to be relevant, but that’s a topic for another article.
The majority of free agents are actually of the minor league variety. Occasionally, unheralded depth pieces brought to spring training camps on the cheap can prove to be hidden gems. Through minor league deals, the Marlins found the reigning MLB stolen base king (Jon Berti) and their best left-handed reliever (Steven Okert). Harold Ramirez was an immediate contributor for them and has since gone on to become a .300 hitter in Tampa Bay.
Who will be the next non-roster invitee to succeed at the highest level?
Before perusing the entire market, the Marlins must carefully consider which of their own free agents deserve a contract for 2023. Here are quick stats and notes about each of the former Fish farmhands who recently entered free agency.
INF/OF Luis Aviles Jr. (age 28 on Opening Day)—No MLB experience; shortstop and third base were primary positions in 2022; Miami native
RHP Dylan Bice (25)—No MLB experience; relief-only profile
INF Bryson Brigman (27)—No MLB experience; second base was primary position in 2022
RHP Raul Brito (25)—No MLB experience; full professional career spent with the Marlins; relief-only profile; four-seamer/curveball pitch mix
RHP Parker Bugg (28)—No MLB experience; full professional career spent with the Marlins; relief-only profile; four-seamer/slider/splitter pitch mix
INF/OF Ray-Patrick Didder (28)—No MLB experience; shortstop was primary position in 2022
RHP Tommy Eveld (29)—No MLB experience; relief-only profile; four-seamer/slider/changeup pitch mix
LHP Jake Fishman (28)—One season of MLB experience (11.0 IP in 7 G); relief-only profile; sinker/slider pitch mix
INF Erik González (31)—Seven seasons of MLB experience (894 PA in 352 G); shortstop was primary position in 2022
RHP Jordan Holloway (26)—Three seasons of MLB experience (39.0 IP in 15 G); full professional career spent with the Marlins; four-seamer/slider/changeup/curveball pitch mix; availability for beginning of 2023 season unclear following arthroscopic surgery on right elbow
OF Thomas Jones (25)—No MLB experience; full professional career spent with the Marlins; center field was primary position in 2022; went from .580 OPS and 10.1 BB% pre-All-Star break to .861 OPS and 17.7 BB% post-All-Star break
LHP Matthew Kent (30)—No MLB experience; four-seamer/cutter/slider/changeup/curveball pitch mix; led Marlins farm system in 2022 with 144 1⁄3 innings pitched
RHP A.J. Ladwig (30)—One season of MLB experience (3.1 IP in 1 G); led all starters in Marlins farm system with 1.8% walk rate
C Ryan Lavarnway (35)—Ten seasons of MLB experience (486 PA in 165 G); had another stint with Marlins in 2020 that included spring training, five MLB appearances and alternate training site
RHP Bryan Mitchell (31)—Six seasons of MLB experience (175.1 IP in 66 G); relief-only profile; four-seamer/slider/changeup/curveball pitch mix
RHP Cody Poteet (28)—Two seasons of MLB experience (58.2 IP in 19 G); full professional career spent with the Marlins; four-seamer/sinker/slider/changeup/curveball pitch mix; streak of 19 1⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings in majors from April-May 2022; Tommy John surgery recovery expected to sideline him throughout 2023 season
LHP Josh Rogers (28)—Four seasons of MLB experience (88.0 IP in 30 G); four-seamer/sinker/slider/changeup pitch mix
RHP Jesús E. Sánchez (23)—No MLB experience; full professional career spent with the Marlins; sinker/slider/changeup pitch mix; missed 2022 MiLB regular season due to injury
INF Chris Torres (25)—No MLB experience; missed 2022 MiLB regular season due to injury
RHP Aneurys Zabala (26)—One season of MLB experience (2.2 IP in 2 G); relief-only profile; four-seamer/slider/splitter pitch mix; fastball velocity tops out at 101 miles per hour
In my opinion, re-signing Holloway should be the top priority considering Miami’s current bullpen outlook. He flashed fun upside in early 2021, although he has seldom been tested in high-leverage situations.
Other than him, Jones, González and Lavarnway—they’re lacking MLB-ready catching depth following the trade of Payton Henry—are intriguing.