This week the Marlins addressed two of their key offseason needs, a starting pitcher, and a utility infielder off of the bench. The Marlins signed former Atlanta Brave Chris Johnson to a one-year deal for around $1 million. Johnson, an enigmatic hitter throughout his career was signed to bring leadership and a little bit of flexibility on the bench to the Marlins roster something it was severely lacking last season.
Now, with the ink officially dried on Johnson’s new deal, the question turns to, how will the Marlins utilize him? Would he be best replacing Derek Dietrich as the backup third baseman seeing time behind veteran Martin Prado? Or would he be best used in a platoon scenario with young first baseman Justin Bour.
Bour came on strong in the second half of the 2015 season to seize the everyday starting job away from Mike Morse. After his well-documented struggles, Morse was dealt and Bour seized the small window of opportunity to get some serious big league playing time and try to make his impression on the organization. Now, Bour is looking to carry all of that momentum into the 2016 season and erase any doubts about his major league worthiness.
But, Bour is still young and anything but a finished product. He had a solid season at the plate, but still has quite a few flaws and is still seen as a specialist. He was a dynamic pinch-hitter last season, one of the best coming off of the bench in the majors and everyday starts could cost him some of his utility-value.
Then comes Johnson, a player who at times has looked spectacular and at other times has looked like he should go back to AAA. His inconstant and streaky hitting cost him his job in Atlanta which lead to him being dealt up north to Cleveland. But, Johnson still has a lot to offer and still does have some value on offense.
So here lies the golden opportunity for the Marlins to maximize the value of two players who don’t exactly fit in the everyday lineup. Johnson and Bour both have an extremely specific skill set and going into a platoon would be the most effective way to get the best out of both of them.