The Miami Marlins may be faced with a tough decision this offseason. What to do with outfielder Garrett Cooper given his injury history.
If you are looking for a quick answer, then as of right now, the 28-year-old first baseman will be in the 2020 starting lineup and on the bag in the clean-up spot in the batting order. A long-term solution is that the Marlins find a power-hitting player with more longevity given Cooper’s injury history.
The organization hopes there is still a place for him, as he has proven when healthy, he swings a powerful bat. And with the potential to hit 30 home runs in a season, Derek Jeter and the front office would be foolish to give up on him so quickly. But he is on a short leash.
"“He can play first or corner outfield. But mainly, the 28-year-old has to stay on the field,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “Cooper played in just 107 games last season, missing time early with a left calf strain and a bruised left hand. And he sat out the final few weeks in September with a left knee injury. Durability factors into decisions.”"
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Some of the plans that Marlins may have had for free agency changed this week when Jose Abreu accepted the Chicago White Sox offer to him. It’s not known whether Abreu was seriously an option for Miami, but he did offer what this franchise needed, which is a slugger who can produce on the base pads.
If the Marlins do look to add a first baseman in free agency this off-season, and I think they do, then somebody like Justin Smoak seems like a potential upgrade (Frisaro agrees). It’s also possible Miami will look to convert Austin Dean to an every day first baseman after spending the last few games of 2019 at the position.
Cooper is going to be one of those players we talk about who was a steal for this organization if he can get himself right physically. He came along with Caleb Smith two offseasons ago from the New York Yankees in a deal that wasn’t talked about much but has paid off for Miami.
Last season, he dealt with calf and hand injuries last year but still managed to swat 15 homers. Cooper missed the final few weeks of the season due to a knee injury, and the front office is hoping he would be ready to go, without question by spring training.
Should the Marlins not be able to acquire a power hitter or two, he and Brian Anderson could be the team’s best chance do you have 30 home runs next season.