Fish n’ grits: Chen is Way-In, the Miami Marlins Gold Glove winner, and Ichiro

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MIAMI, FL - JULY 31: Marcell Ozuna
MIAMI, FL - JULY 31: Marcell Ozuna /
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The Miami Marlins are gearing up for  a wild ride this offseason. From award winners, to opt-outs and opt-ins, there is plenty already happening.

Imagine for a moment that the Miami Marlins were able to keep their outfield intact. Inter obligatory Giancarlo Stanton trade rumor here, and lets look past that for a second. It might be a long time before South Florida sees a unit as talented and productive as this one.

Their talents are undeniable, and now their list of achievements are reflecting that; a new Marlins outfielder added some hardware to his trophy case. On top of that, Miami is predictably parting with a baseball legend, and will remain on the hook in a major way.

It’s been a while since we’ve been up this early. A spoonful of Fish n’ grits helps the medicine go down.

Marcell Ozuna wins his first Gold Glove

The Miami Marlins had three players eligible to win a Gold Glove award on Tuesday night. Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon, and Giancarlo Stanton were all up awards at their respective positions, but only one took home the hardware.

Ozuna came away with his first Gold Glove after impressive, consistent play in left field. Capable of playing any spot in the outfield, Ozuna has seen extended playing time in both right field, and center field. But he appeared to come into his own in 2017, playing almost exclusively in left.

On top of making the routine plays with robotic efficiency, Ozuna has a rifle for an arm. He had ten putouts from left field in 2017, and saved countless more runs by the mere threat of being able to throw runners out at home.

It will be interesting to see how this award affects his arbitration settlement. Reasonable estimates place Ozuna’s salary for 2018 somewhere in the $10 million range, but that might see a modest bump now that he is a Gold Glove winner.

Congrats to “The Big Bear”, Marcell Ozuna! Well earned, and well-deserved.

Ichiro officially becomes a free agent

We predicted that Ichiro would be parting ways with the Miami Marlins months ago. Predictably, Miami announced that it decided not pick up Ichiro Suzuki’s team option.

Ichiro set a number of records coming off the bench and pinch-hitting for the Fish, but overall, he showed predictable decline. Coming off the bench and being asked to produce at the drop of a hat is a much tougher task than knowing you’ll be in the lineup every evening.

With that in mind, Ichiro, a bonafide baseball legend, handled it with style, grace, and effectiveness. He hit .255/.318/.332 in his final season with Miami, and was a plus option anytime one of the Miami Marlins regular outfielders needed a day.

On Tuesday, he officially became a free agent. Where he’ll land is anyones guess, but a reunion with the Seattle Mariners would make sense from a PR standpoint. Ichiro wants to play until he’s 50, and if he can continue to produce at a reasonable rate, there is no reason he can’t do it.

Nothing but good memories of Ichiro playing in a Marlins uniform, and it was a pleasure to watch him play.  Best of luck to a legend!

Wei-Yin Chen does what any of us would

Wei-Yin Chen is a talented baseball player who makes a handsome living throwing a baseball in the Major Leagues. Except that he hasn’t been doing much of that lately, and has no real answers of when he might be able to do it again.

Chen has been battling issues with his pitching elbow since arriving in Miami. When he’s been able to get on the field, he’s performed well, but that hasn’t been very often. Chen has only appeared in 31 games as a Marlin in two seasons.

On Sunday, Chen decided to stay with the Marlins and serve the term of his contract worth roughly $65 million. He wouldn’t make anywhere near that elsewhere, and there are doubts whether he’d be able to find a home at any price.

Chen is the biggest financial hurdle the Miami Marlins will face in the coming years. Without the monstrous production that Giancarlo Stanton puts out to lubricate a deal, Chen’s onerous contract will be mostly dead money.

Consider that the final two years of his contract will account for nearly $50 million, and the team figures to be financially hamstrung beyond the 2017 offseason.

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