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The Miami Marlins, like many other teams around Major League Baseball, anticipate being active during the next few days before the league’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, a which point a lockout is set to go into place until MLB and the MLB Players’ Association agree on a new deal.
The Marlins have already made two big moves. They tentatively agreed to a four-year, $53 million deal with free agent outfielder Avisail Garcia and, pending a physical, are giving starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara a five-year, $56 million contract extension.
And before the CBA expires, there is one other looming deadline left for all 30 MLB teams to deal with: The non-tender deadline. Teams have until 8 p.m. Tuesday to decide which players who are either pre-arbitration or eligible for arbitration — in other words, those with fewer than six years of service time that don’t have a multi-year deal in place — to tender contracts to for the 2022 season. Those who aren’t tendered contracts become free agents.
Since players who are not yet eligible for arbitration tend to make the league minimum or slightly above that, teams normally tender contracts to them.
For the Marlins, that puts the focus on the 10 players on their 40-man roster who are eligible for arbitration.
Below are those 10 players, their projected salary according to MLB Trade Rumors and the decisions the Marlins have to make regarding the players.
▪ First baseman Jesus Aguilar ($7.4 million): Aguilar has steadily produced during his two years with the Marlins, hitting .265 with a .794 on-base-plus-slugging mark, 30 home runs, 127 RBI and 80 runs scored in 182 games. However, the Marlins also have Lewin Diaz as their first baseman of the future and want to get him steady reps as well. The universal DH (should it be included in the next collective bargaining agreement as expected) would help remedy this
▪ Catcher Jorge Alfaro ($2.7 million): When the Marlins acquired Alfaro (along with Sixto Sanchez, Will Stewart and international trade money) from the Philadelphia Phillies in the J.T. Realmuto trade, the intention was for him to be their long-term catcher. That plan seemingly has fizzled. Alfaro was benched in favor of Chad Wallach during Miami’s 2020 playoff run and moved to left field in favor of three up-and-coming catchers in Alex Jackson, Nick Fortes and Payton Henry at the end of 2021.
▪ Third baseman Brian Anderson ($4.5 million): Anderson had a down year in 2021 that was chopped up by three separate injury stints, but that shouldn’t change the fact that he’s a Gold Glove-caliber defender at third base and right field and is a steady hitter when healthy.
▪ Infielder Jon Berti ($1.2 million): Berti has been the Marlins’ utility backup for the past three seasons. He’s able to play all three outfield spots as well as second base, shortstop and third base. He has a knack for getting on base (.342 on-base percentage with Marlins) and stealing them (34 stolen bases in 43 attempts). His versatility and stability for the low cost makes sense.
▪ Left-handed pitcher Richard Bleier ($2.5 million): Bleier was one of the Marlins’ primary late-inning relievers and is one of the few lefties in their bullpen.
▪ Outfielder Lewis Brinson ($1.3 million): Brinson has shown streaks of potential breakouts, but that doesn’t hide the fact that he has a career .203 batting average with almost 100 more strikeouts (296) than hits (201) during his four seasons with the Marlins. He’s also out of minor-league options, meaning the only way he stays with the club at this point is by being on the big-league roster.
▪ First baseman/right fielder Garrett Cooper ($3 million): The upside: He’s the Marlins’ best pure hitter, leading Marlins players last year with at least 200 plate appearances in a slew of hitting metrics including hard-hit rate (52.7 percent) and average exit velocity (91.1 mph). His .380 on-base percentage led the team. The downside: His defense is sub-par (the universal DH would work in his favor) and he has only played in 226 games in four seasons with Miami, missing time with an assortment of injuries.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Dylan Floro ($2.4 million): Floro became the Marlins’ primary closer to end the season after they traded Yimi Garcia to the Houston Astros. Floro converted 13 of 15 save opportunities during the final two months of the season and should remain in a high-leverage role moving forward.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Elieser Hernandez ($1.4 million): Hernandez doesn’t have the pure stuff when compared to the rest of Miami’s starting pitchers, but his slider and changeup create a lot of swings and misses (33 percent for both last season). Injury history is a concern, though. He was on the 60-day injured list three times in the past two seasons.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Pablo Lopez ($2.5 million): The Marlins’ decision on Lopez will be an interesting one. When healthy, he’s one of their most consistent pitchers. He pitched to a 3.26 ERA over the past two seasons with 174 strikeouts against 44 walks in 160 innings. The problem, however, is Lopez staying healthy. He has missed extended time in each of the last three full seasons (not including the shortened 2020 season). The Marlins will most likely tender him a contract, but it would not be surprising if Lopez was used as a trade piece to upgrade the offense.