Infield decisions loom for the Miami Marlins

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 09: Dee Gordon
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 09: Dee Gordon /
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The Miami Marlins will be forced to make some tough roster decision this offseason. They could result in a vastly different look on the infield.

Word on the street is that Derek Jeter wants to slash some payroll when he gets into the Miami Marlins owners chair. In a way, that’s not a bad thing. Jeffery Loria went from miserly spendthrift to big baller all too quickly. He overpaid for players in an effort to win one more championship before leaving.

Now the incoming owners are saddled with a lot of dollars committed to a few players. Cuts on the infield are going to be particularly brutal, though. They’re likely to include a couple of fan favorites.

Like it or not, change is coming. The writing is already on the wall for the infield.

You need look no further than Brian Anderson starting at third base everyday this month. Anderson is the future for the Marlins at third base; a power-hitting third baseman with an above average glove. He started the first day he was called up and has performed well since.

The sample size is incredibly limited, but in his 17 MLB plate appearances, Anderson has posted a .402 OBP. He’s managed a hit in every professional game and drawn three walks. He looks like a legitimate Major League Baseball player early on.

He’s essentially allowing the front office to make two cost-effective roster moves. The Marlins are likely to shed the salary of both Martin Prado, and second baseman Dee Gordon this offseason.

With the likes of Miguel Rojas, JT Riddle, Derek Dietrich, and Anderson all coming back next season, incoming ownership will likely view these two higher paid players as expendable.

Why they’ll move Gordon

Gordon would be the easier player to move. He’s having a bounce back year, having stolen 49-bases and only being caught roughly 21-percent of the time. That’s the second best rate of his career. He’s also posting his second best OBP at .359, though he continues to be a free swinger.

Gordon has only worked 24 walks in 583 plate appearances this season. That’s not enough for a leadoff hitter, even if he is the “team spark plug”.

Gordon could be owed as much as $51.9 million through the 2021 season. His single season total tops out at $14 million in 2021.

He effects the game most with his speed, and he’ll be 33-years old when his contract expires. His most valuable asset could be significantly diminished by then. Paying speedsters in the eight-digit range usually isn’t wise when they’re over 30.

His contract is relatively team friendly for a more affluent club. But the Marlins have cheaper options already available, and finding a taker for Gordon won’t be difficult.

It’ll be a major bummer for Marlins fans who have grown to love Dee’s exciting, jubilant brand of baseball. But expect Gordon to be moved in exchange for some prospects this offseason in a move that is mostly about cutting cost.

Why they’ll move Prado

This one is fairly straight-forward. Prado struggled to stay on the field this season, and when he did, he was a shell of himself. He’s owed $28.5 million by the Marlins through the 2019 season at a position where they have promising young prospect.

None of Prado’s injuries were particularly serious and appear to have been more of the nagging variety. He has enough sustained success in the bank to make him an appealing trade candidate. This will mark the first time in Prado’s career that he failed to post an OBP over .300.

With a decade worth of goodwill built up around the league and a reputation for being a great “clubhouse presence”, finding a taker for Prado is well within reason. Miami might be forced to eat some of his salary, but that’s fine as long as it isn’t the lions share.

Next: Wei-Yin Chen makes appearance for Marlins

Conclusion

The offseason will likely bring some bitter farewells to a few fan favorites. Dee Gordon and Martin Prado are likely on their way out. With Jeter and Co. likely looking to pare down payroll, casualties are inevitable.

Moving Prado and Gordon will save the Marlins a total of $24.3 million in 2018 alone. Unloading the full value of their contracts cuts cost to the tune of $80.4 million over the life of their contracts. For an incoming ownership group looking to right the ship, that’s a boon.

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