It’s finally starting to make sense! The third version of my Miami Marlins roster projection is the most talented one yet. Team defense is a concern, as is high-leverage relief, but the 2023 Fish are poised to win more games than their predecessors.
There is no use predicting the Opening Day active roster so far in advance. This is merely a projection using players currently under the club’s control.
The Opening Day roster is not comprised of an organization’s best 26 players. It is never that simple. I’ll touch on some of the factors that influence those decisions below. Also, just because somebody makes the cut for me doesn’t mean I believe they would hold onto their spot throughout the season. For players on the fringe, production is key.
Please note that I anticipate Anthony Bender and Max Meyer beginning the 2023 season on the 60-day injured list as they rehab from their respective surgeries, creating 40-man roster flexibility.
Projection 4.0 is coming once the full squad arrives at spring training.
VETERANS/DESERVING LOCKS: Sandy Alcantara, Luis Arraez, Jon Berti, Richard Bleier, JT Chargois, Jazz Chisholm Jr., Garrett Cooper, Johnny Cueto, Dylan Floro, Nick Fortes, Avisaíl García, Jesús Luzardo, Steven Okert, Tanner Scott, Jean Segura, Jorge Soler, Jacob Stallings and Joey Wendle
There’s no elaboration needed for the majority of these names. They performed substantially above replacement level in 2022 and did so in a way that doesn’t seem “fluky.”
Although Scott trended in the wrong direction as last season progressed, he has the appropriate demeanor to close out games when necessary. He’s also owed a multi-million-dollar salary in 2023. The Marlins would have non-tendered him if they had any doubts about him being major league-caliber moving forward.
The disappointing Stallings played much closer to expectations in the second half of the season (117 wRC+) and the Marlins greatly value his intangibles.
With $41 million still owed to García, the Marlins won’t do anything drastic right now. They’ll hope that his renewed commitment to conditioning sticks and that his career trend of every-other-year effectiveness continues.
In the previous projection, Wendle was relegated to a murky bench/platoon role. The conversion of Chisholm into a center fielder and the departure of Miguel Rojas clears the runway for him to be Miami’s main shortstop.
ROSTER RULES BENEFICIARIES: Edward Cabrera, Nic Enright and Jesús Sánchez
Cabrera and Sánchez have extinguished their minor league option years. If healthy, they must be on the team or on the waiver wire. It is an easy call to award spots to Cabrera and Sánchez despite concerns about the former’s control and the latter’s plate approach—they both flashed awesome upside in 2022.
The Marlins went the safe route with their Rule 5 Draft pick. Enright posted a 2.78 FIP during his tenure in the Guardians farm system. There’s a low-leverage bullpen role reserved for him.
SEPTEMBER LOOKED LEGIT: Bryan De La Cruz
Perhaps De La Cruz ought to be a “deserving lock” for Opening Day considering his fantastic finish to last season. During one of his first Marlins interviews, Skip Schumaker implied that he’d get the opportunity to start frequently in 2023. It’s semantics. He has the inside track to the 26-man.
FIFTH ROTATION SPOT: Trevor Rogers
It would be easier to pencil in Rogers if he had made his final few scheduled starts of 2022. A left lat strain got in the way of him salvaging good vibes from a miserable individual campaign. The former All-Star has fierce internal competition for a starting job, but I think he’ll show enough during spring training to clinch it.
LAST MEN IN THE ‘PEN: Huascar Brazoban and Tommy Nance
As a rookie, Brazoban ranked in the 97th percentile in swinging strike rate among major leaguers with 20-plus innings pitched. Nance quietly tinkered with his breaking ball usage after a midseason slump and the results were encouraging. Both of them provided valuable length in mop-up situations.
Filling out the bullpen is an exercise in splitting hairs. Nasty yet inexperienced homegrown relievers are breathing down their necks. The Marlins won’t hesitate to option Brazoban or Nance when fresh arms are needed.
LAST MAN ON THE BENCH: Garrett Hampson
There is some redundancy between Hampson and Berti as ultra-speedy, right-handed-hitting utility players. However, I think it’s telling that Berti hasn’t played a complete game in center field since 2020: the Marlins seemingly doubt his viability out there. I can see Berti being deployed at second base and third base multiple times per week, while Hampson starts against lefty pitching at center field/shortstop (his primary positions with the 2022 Rockies).
Hampson has to demonstrate some hitting ability during spring training, and even if he makes the cut, he’ll be on a short leash. Jacob Amaya is the next man up.
TOUGHEST OMISSIONS: Jacob Amaya, Braxton Garrett, Jordan Groshans and Josh Simpson
NON-ROSTER WILDCARDS: Daniel Castano, Brian Miller, Eury Pérez and Devin Smeltzer