We already counted Brian Anderson as an outfielder, for a few compelling reasons. For our purposes, we’ll exclude him from today’s conversation, although it is likely he starts at the hot corner regardless.
Now entering his 10th major league season, it may surprise some to realize that Starlin Castro is still just 28-years-old. He turns 29 before the start of the 2019 regular season.
Castro has bashed 111 major league home runs through his career, over 1308 contests. A noted workhorse, he’s appeared in fewer than 134 games only once since his rookie season, averaging 145 per season overall. His .281/.321/.411 slashline was, for the most part, what he produced in his first Miami Marlins season last year, at .278/.329/.400. That is to say, we got exactly what was advertised when he joined the team.
The only onerous part of Castro’s association with the Marlins has been his pricetage. As fellow Marlin Maniac David Levin noted yesterday:
"Castro’s contract is a reason for concern for the front office as he is one of the highest players on the team. The 28-year-old is set to make $11 million this season and then $16 million in 2020 before he can test free agency. Given the Marlins desire to keep its payroll small and the hope the team can become an active player in the free agent market in 2020 or 2021, they cannot afford to keep him on the roster past this season."
Castro is not likely to be challenged for a starting spot in the lineup this Spring Training.
Injuries have taken their toll on the third baseman over the past two seasons, after he appeared in 153 games in 2016. Still roughly an average fielder at third base, Prado will be asked to also play at first base this season.
Prado has been limited to just 91 contests over the last two seasons, and has slashed well below his career line, with marks of .246/.284/.326. Regardless of this fact, Prado is guaranteed a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Prado is well respected throughout baseball circles, and is expected to join the coaching ranks when his time as a baseball player comes to an end. In the meantime, having him in the lineup is like having a coach on the field and in the clubhouse.
Miguel Rojas has the most versatile glove in the Miami Marlins infield, and maybe in all of baseball. The only one of the four infield positions that he can be considered somewhat “below average” is at first base, and not by very much there. Of course, he’s best at shortstop, and pretty good also at third base.
Rojas isn’t any slouch at the plate, either. 2018 would see him nearly quadruple his career-home run totals (four prior to the season, 11 during the season for 15 overall). His 53 RBI was almost as much as his prior collected RBI total through his first four seasons of play. Despite that, his slashline remained nearly unchanged from his career marks of .255/.307/.337.
Neil Walker joins the Miami Marlins for the 2018 campaign with a major league contract, and will stick regardless of his Spring Training performance. That being said, look for him to take the next five weeks seriously in the lead-up to the regular season.
As I said about Walker previously,
"Walker, a switch-hitter, affords the Marlins added modularity in the lineup and in the infield. A natural second baseman, Walker also saw time last season at third base, right field, and left field for New York."
JT Riddle had a rough go of it in the leadup to the 2018 campaign, missing almost two months to begin the season with right-shoulder tendinitis.
Riddle will be in direct competition with Rojas for the starting job at shortstop, but both could be in the lineup at the same time in some spots.
"Both Riddle and Rojas also have minor league stars moving up the team’s system, hoping to make an impact with the parent club sooner rather than later. – David Levin, MM"