On Thursday, just a few minutes after the signing of first baseman Yuli Gurriel, Miami added fellow Cuban José Iglesias. As Katie Woo of The Athletic first reported, the 33-year-old shortstop signed a minor league deal to play for the team closest to his native country.
A couple of weeks back, Yordano Carmona of Pelota Cubana had reported that there was interest in the Cuban shortstop. This interest has now led to an agreement.
In 2022, Iglesias signed a deal with the Colorado Rockies to be an everyday player. Aside from some time missed in September due to a right hand contusion, he served as their starting shortstop. Iglesias slashed .292/.328/.380/.708 with 3 home runs and 47 RBIs, doing better on the road (.752 OPS) than he did at hitter-friendly Coors Field (.685 OPS).
Iglesias’ contact skills are elite—he ranked in the 96th percentile of K% and 98th percentile in whiff rate last season, per Baseball Savant. However, his on-base potential is limited by a lack of walks. His BB% has been below the MLB average in every year of his career and it was even lower than usual for the Rockies (3.6 BB%).
A big issue for the Marlins last season was the lack of success when facing lefties. Iglesias will be a big part of the solution that Miami is looking for (.295/.323/.450/.753, 2 HR and 18 RBI).
I expect Iglesias to platoon with Joey Wendle at shortstop. When the Marlins first acquired Wendle, it was to be a super utility, not an everyday player. This acquisition frees him up to return to his perfect role, and maybe the reduced workload could help him stay out of injury trouble.
This is a move that Miami’s large Cuban community will love. With Iglesias, Gurriel and Jorge Soler, there’s the possibility of up to three Cuban-born players being in the Marlins lineup at the same time—that would be a first for the franchise. Some of the top Marlins prospects are also of Cuban descent, including Victor Mesa Jr. and Yiddi Cappe.
With less than three weeks until Opening Day, its unclear whether Iglesias will be fully ready in time. Once Iglesias shows that he can contribute, the Marlins can easily open a 40-man roster spot by moving one of their injured pitchers to the 60-day injured list.