Have the Miami Marlins already acquired their starting CF?
Since the mid-season Starling Marte trade in the lost season that was 2021, there has been an obvious hole at CF for the fish. The Miami Marlins attempted to bring Marte back in the following offseason but were ultimatly gazumped by the mets, a precursor perhaps of the Steve Cohen big spending era. The Marlins transitioned and added outfielders Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler to the Marlins via free agency.
Neither addition was a logical fit to fill centerfield despite early buzz that García may see time there. It eventually emerged that Jesús Sánchez would man the position. Coming from a fine rookie season where he displayed plenty of raw power potential albeit at the expense of a poor contact rate, Sánchez would end the prior season with a .251 batting average and 14 home runs in just 227 ABs. Numbers that would help the young outfielder deliver a 114 WRC+ and whet the appetite for a bat first CF in 2022.
Statistically, Sánchez would go on to successfully deliver on the modest expectations of slightly below average defence. It certainly wasn’t always the most visually pleasing of experiences, this perhaps was to be expected from a young player, green at the position who missed valuable time in spring training due to injury.
It was at the plate however that Sánchez struggled most, a hot April was soon blanched by issues at the plate.
Holes in Sánchez’s swing were exposed, fastballs up and in combined with off speed pitches down and away soon derailed his season.
Bereft of replacement options and struggling with injuries, the Marlins stuck with an ineffective Sanchez until ultimately demoting the cold hitting outfielder in early august. A .205/.271/.387 slash line and a reportedly poor personal approach to improvement would, at the time, put his future as a MLB player in jeopardy. Sánchez would go on to not only put up great numbers at AAA but display a visually different swing. Seemingly deserving of a recall from the minors and with little to no reason to keep him down, it was perhaps odd to see Sánchez only receive 18 PA at the death of the season.
Heading into this offseason the marlins continue to have a need for a geniune CF option, Questions marks remain not only with Sánchez but every other potential option inside the organisation. With a plethora of pitching trade capital at both the major league level and high level prospects in the minors, a blockbuster trade seemed inevitable. Despite this the Marlins and specifically Kim Ng have yet to pull the trigger, most likely awaiting a more reasonable trade environment, The pirates reportedly continue to hold for a high return on disgruntled star Bryan Reynolds.
Could there be another reason for the hesitancy?
Having a final spot to fill going into the rule 5 draft it was only right to speculate on potential available players, One interesting player at a position of need was outfielder Jake Mangum from the mets. The marlins would go on to draft RHP Nic Enright from the Guardians but later trade for Mangum as the PTBNL in the trade that had previously sent Elieser Hernández and Jeff Brigham to New the Mets. Having been acquired by trade the marlins will have more flexibility with Mangum than they would through the rule 5 draft.
Admittedly a 27 year old minor leaguer acquired as a PTBNL after passing through the rule 5 draft unclaimed is hardly the blockbuster move fans have been clamouring for and rightfully so. Mangum’s ceiling is more likely as a 4th outfielder but with a profile that suggests he could hit for a high batting average. Combining elite CF defence and 15-20 stolen base potential the marlins might just have found a serviceable starting Major leaguer who can deliver a 95-100WRC+ and a 2-3 WAR return for pennies on the dollar.