With star outfielder Starling Marte more than likely to get shipped out of town by the July 30th trade deadline, the Miami Marlins will not only be without one of its most productive bats going forward but also its main center fielder. If and when Marte is traded away by the Marlins, it will require Miami to reevaluate its outfield situation.
The obvious solution: Jesús Sánchez
The most prominent replacement for Marte’s fielding is the Marlins’ rising-star outfielder Jesús Sánchez. The 23-year-old phenom made some waves in his most recent stint with the major league squad, smacking three home runs in 23 games. Sánchez provides plenty of new blood and raw talent to a Marlins team that is hurting for both, but unfortunately he currently resides on the 10-day injury list with an undisclosed injury.
Even when he returns to action, Sánchez lacks the speed to play center field in the long run, so the Fish will have to find another player to fill the Marte-sized hole in center field. The Marlins have another prospect coming through the ranks that could make an impact in the outfield in Double-A prospect JJ Bleday of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, but his below-average speed does not project well for playing center field in the long term either.
So who will play center field for the Miami Marlins in the meantime?
Miami has a couple of options at their disposal in the short-term, such as center fielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison. Both have the speed necessary to patrol the expansive center field grass in loanDepot Park, but both also leave a lot to be desired at the plate. Brinson is slashing .234/.244/.377 in 32 games this season, and holds a measly .552 career OPS.
For a batter whose power should be peaking in his age-27 season, it is unlikely that Brinson will be a significant offensive threat in the future. To be fair, Harrison’s 2021 slashline of .200/.200/.300 isn’t much better, but the 25 year old only has 57 major league at-bats in his career, so the young hitter should improve with more experience.
Another possibility for the Marlins is acquiring another center fielder via a trade. Whether that’s in return for Marte or in another trade entirely remains to be seen, if it happens at all. Sitting in last place in the National League East and selling rather than buying at the deadline, Miami isn’t exactly in a “win now” situation, so any major league-ready center fielder acquired by July 31 won’t be much better than what the Marlins already have.
Production at the corners
What the Marlins already have, outside of Brinson and Harrison, are more batters best suited for the outfield corners like Garrett Cooper and Adam Duvall. Cooper and Duvall provide much more power at the plate than Brinson or Harrison, with 2021 OPS’s of .845 and .776, respectively, but that still leaves one spot left in the outfield.
Once Sánchez returns from the injury list, he will likely take the bulk of the starts in center field, with Brinson providing more defensive play as needed, but only time will tell how the Miami Marlins move forward after this season.