A Glimpse Into the Future: What Are the Plans for the Marlins Outfield?

Marcell-Ozuna-Getty-ImagesWe may have a slight problem.

Giancarlo Stanton is poised to be coming off the DL soon. He is running on an anti-gravity treadmill – no, it is nothing out of Star Trek, just a vest that he wears while running on a treadmill to take his weight off of his body while he runs. He has been showing signs of progress and should be back sooner rather than later from a Grade 2 hamstring pull. Estimates are a few more weeks; he has missed 18 straight games since going on the DL on April 29th and reportedly has had an injection of plasma to help his recovery.

The other side of this is, what happens when he does return? Many were weighing in today on Twitter as we all watched Marcell Ozuna hit a blast to left center to score 2 runs to eventually prove the difference in this afternoon’s win. It looks as if Ozuna is going to stick for the remainder of the season. He is hitting .299 with 1 HR and 8 RBI in 62 ABs. He has a rocket arm in RF and can play excellent defense to boot. Stanton is the team’s starting RF, so in all likelihood, Ozuna would shift to LF.

That brings us to the LF situation. Having Juan Pierre is a defensive liability, and his offense is predicated on getting on base and wreaking havoc with his speed. Although he has been able to steal 13 bases thus far, and provided solid leadership and hustle every game, the Marlins offense is going nowhere without any means to provide pop in the lineup. In all likelihood, we may see Juan Pierre’s playing time downgraded to a backup situation, or platoon in LF with Ozuna from time to time.

Christian Yelich is lurking in AA Jacksonville, waiting for his call up. His position? LF. He has arguably the most promising bat in the entire Marlins farm system so he could dislodge Ozuna from LF, too. Yelich has played CF and can field that position as well. So, another scenario would mean that Yelich is called up to man CF.

Which then brings us to yet another domino – what do the Marlins do about Jake Marisnick and his future and Justin Ruggiano and his present? Ruggiano has provided some pop and looks to be a solid trade bait option down the road. This may be the most likely scenario for him as the Marlins move forward, given the progress of Ozuna and Yelich. In Marisnick, the Marlins can afford to wait longer and let his bat mature more. He has the tools to be a very good CF in the bigs and right now, could be a gold glove caliber defender in CF. He may actually be the Marlins best defensive outfielder in their farm system.

Another wild idea here could be to move Stanton to 1B. It wouldn’t happen this season, but if he could learn to field the position a bit, he could be moved to 1B and allow for Ozuna to resume his natural position in RF, Yelich slides back to LF, and Marisnick gets his spot in CF. If that is the scenario the Marlins shoot for, that leaves them with loads of talent they could flip for more prospects – Ruggiano, Pierre, Coghlan. All three of those OFers could be solid veteran bats for playoff contending teams looking to add depth down the stretch. Given their flexible contracts, they would provide extra value for the Fish, too. And if the Marlins plan on moving Stanton to 1B, Logan Morrison becomes expendable and could be a highly sought after bat down the stretch as well.

Ricky Nolasco continues to build his value – his 8 inning, 11 K performance this afternoon puts him back on the market and ahead of other options that my be on teams’ radars. Combining him with a Ruggiano, Pierre, Coghlan, or even Morrison gives the Marlins even more flexibility in making deals to shore up their talent pool even further.

We have also started to ask questions about the 2B situation – is Derek Dietrich the future there or will he be moved over to 3B? In moving Dietrich to 3B, they retain Donovan Solano and his value as a 2B with a solid glove and ability to hit out of the 2 hole while also gaining Dietrich’s bat and glove at a position with a huge void for the Fish into the foreseeable future. Placido Polanco is not a long term solution to be sure, so the Marlins must either trade for a 3B or move a prospect into that spot to fill a need.

All of these scenarios only point to one factor – the Marlins are in a position to improve internally with the talent they have been building with while also being in a position to acquire more talent to further strengthen what looks to be a rising future.