Jon Berti has given the Marlins more than they expected when they signed him in December. What are the team’s plans for him in 2020?
When Berti was acquired in December as a free agent, the front office and coaching staff may not have known what they were getting from a player who has been one of the biggest surprises for the parent club this season. But with change which is imminent, the team will need to find a place for the 29-year-old, who has speed to burn on the base pads and serves as one of the more reliable players on the roster because of his versatility.
Can Beri find his own niche on a team that figures to look a bit different in 2020?
"“We’re still trying to figure out, is he an every day, utility-type guy?” manager Don Mattingly said. “Can he play every day, somewhere? Or is he a four or five days a week [starter]? Some guys are better at playing five days — you’re going to get more production — than playing seven.”"
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With 20 games remaining in the season and the Marlins sitting at the bottom of the National League East division at 51-91, the evaluation process of talent continues. Berti and youngsters trying to make a name for themselves are competing for spots around the diamond. Berti can play many of them and play them well.
It’s that kind of effort and utility off the bench that figures to help him when the team moves on to Spring Training in February.
"“Berti has bounced around the diamond, playing shortstop regularly when Miguel Rojas was on the injured list with a right hamstring injury,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, “Since Rojas has returned, Berti has started in center field, and seen action at third base, second and corner outfield.”"
The front office and coaching staff have liked what they have seen this season.
"Adds Manager Don Mattingly, “He’s playing kind of all over. He’s playing in center. He’s playing third. We want to make sure he stays fresh.”"
The Marlins still lack power in the middle of the lineup. Berti’s speed on the base pads helps plenty, especially when the lineup is hitting the baseball with consistency. The Marlins wanted to play that brand of ball this year. Berti has given the team that opportunity.
According to Statcast, his average sprint speed is 29.8 feet per second, which ranks 12th fastest in the Majors. The league average is 27 feet per second.
It is a major reason we should see him on the Marlins roster next season. Even without a defined role with the team. Keeping a valuable commodity like Berti off the Marlins MLB roster would be a mistake.