On January 25th, the Miami Marlins signed veteran outfielder Austin Kearns to a minor-league deal. While the deal may not blow anyone away, Kearns add’s to the already deep outfield rotation. With Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison already penciled in as starters, center field will most likely be between Emilio Bonifacio and Chris Coghlan, unless the fish can ink Yoennis Cespedes. This leave’s Bryan Petersen, Scott Cousins, Coghlan (assuming Bonifacio wins the job), Aaron Rowand, and Austin Kearns to compete for a roster spot. Without any doubt, we at least know competition this spring will be closely observed.
Kearns, who is now 31, played in Cleveland last year where he played in 57 games. While he struggled, Kearns has been looked at highly, with talent that “never seemed to make it.” A first round draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 1998, Kearns has had his share of moments in his 10 year career. Perhaps his best year came in 2006 where he jacked 24 home runs and 86 rbi’s. Another positive with Kearns is that he has had experience pinch-hitting.
Still, Kearns is a below-average at-best outfielder with little range. He strikes out a lot and can’t seem to constantly keep a hot streak going. It will be a challenge for Kearns to make the team out of Spring Training, but having him available in the minors could be a blessing in disguise. We all know his chance to be a star is over, but he does have some juice left in the tank and maybe that can transfer over to Miami. The signing of Austin Kearns is the perfect defintion of a “little risk, high reward” investment.