If the Miami Marlins’ rebuild project is centered around a “youth movement,” then they’re going the wrong way.
Last week the Miami Marlins signed former Silver Slugging second baseman Neil Walker to a one-year, $2 million deal. Earlier today, they inked three-time all-star outfielder Curtis Granderson, also a former Silver Slugger at outfielder, to a minor league deal.
Walker is 33-years-old, and Granderson will be 38 before the start of the season. Miami’s so-called youth movement is starting to look a little like a retirement community. If they’re building on the future, they’re looking in the wrong direction.
On the bright side, Granderson has hit 332 home runs through his 15-season major league career, between the Detroit Tigers, the New York Yankees, the New York Mets, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Milwaukee Brewers. He has a lifetime .252/.340/.470 slashline through 1,919 major league games, along with 153 stolen bases. He once hit 23 triples in a season, but speed is no longer a major component of his game.
Also in the positives column, Granderson hasn’t had a full-season OPS+ lower than 99 in any season of his career, outside of a six-for-25 debut in 2004. Last year, he clocked in with a mark of 117 between the Blue Jays and the Brewers, hitting .242/.351/.431 in 123 games, with 13 round-trippers and 38 RBI.
Defensively, Granderson has been just a shade below average over his career. Last season, he was four Total Zone Fielding runs below average, roughly translated to a -0.4 dWAR.
Can we reasonably expect Granderson to keep up the pace that he showed he was still capable of in his age-37 season? I certainly hope so. The Miami Marlins had a flurry of activity over the last few days, including the movement off the 40-man roster of 29-year-old rookie Isaac Galloway. One could only assume that was to clear the way for Granderson’s acquisition. Is Granderson’s 38 better than Galloway’s 29? We may never know.
In addition to Walker, Granderson, and Galloway’s roster movements, the Miami Marlins resigned right-handed pitcher Austin Brice off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. Brice had previously played for the Marlins, after getting chosen by them in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft.
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The Marlins also traded reliable relief pitcher Nick Wittgren to the Cleveland Indians for relative unknown Jordan Milbrath, also a relief pitcher. Wittgren’s 125 ERA+ in 2018 was the best mark on the Miami Marlins, while Milbrath, who like Wittgren is 27-years-old, hasn’t appeared in the majors yet. Between the Indians’ double- and triple-A affiliates last season, he put up a 3.96 ERA and a 1.445 WHIP, with 61 K’s in 63 2/3 innings. For contrast, Wittgren has a 1.277 WHIP and a 3.60 career ERA in three major league seasons.
So the day’s final count shakes out at:
Gains: Austin Brice, Jordan Milbrath, Curtis Granderson
Losses: Nick Wittgren, Isaac Galloway
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