Posted on January 20, 2017 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Miami Marlins have been willing spenders this offseason with regard to pitching, signing two starters, two relievers, and trading for starter Dan Straily earlier this week. However, they’ve yet to add any offensive help, although rumors suggest that could change. Recent reports suggest the Marlins are interested in adding a right-handed power bat to their bench, with both Chris Carter and Mark Reynolds being discussed by the team internally.
Earlier this month, there was talk coming out of Miami that the team was comfortable with left-hand hitting first baseman Justin Bour playing every day, despite taking limited at bats against left-handed pitchers during his big league career. That kind of thinking may have changed with the way the market has played out for power hitters this winter.
It’s believed that the Marlins don’t have a lot of money left to spend this winter, which could be a factor in their pursuit of a power hitter. But Miami could be holding out hope that they can snag a player who can platoon with Bour at first base and provide some pop off the bench without having to pay too much. There appears to be one spot on Miami’s bench that’s unspoken for heading into spring training, and so the Marlins may look to fill it using the limited funds they have left.
Carter would be an almost ideal option if they can afford him. He doesn’t provide much in terms of defense, speed, or hitting for average, but those shortcoming could be mitigated if he only starts against left-handed pitchers. He’s coming a 41-home run season in 2016 and has hit 131 long balls over the last four seasons. Yet, he remains unsigned deep in the offseason after the Brewers declined to tender him a contract for 2017. He may not be thrilled about the prospect of only having a part-time job with the Marlins, but he may not have too many better offers on the table right now.
Reynolds doesn’t quite have the power he used to have, but he may be a more affordable option than Carter and more willing to play a part-time role. After a few down seasons, Reynolds bounced back nicely with the Rockies in 2016, albeit playing half of his games at Coors Field. He doesn’t have discernible splits between lefties and righties, but he may be a safer option hitting against lefties than Bour would be. Reynolds would also provide a veteran presence on what is still a rather young roster.
The Marlins are known to be considering both Carter and Reynolds, but Mike Napoli, Billy Butler, and Dae-Ho Lee could also be candidates. Napoli is likely too expensive and may still be seeing a multi-year deal, while Butler has seen little action in the field in recent years, potentially taking those two out of consideration. But Lee could fit as a bench piece who wouldn’t cost much, and he did hit 14 home runs in just 292 at bats last year with the Mariners.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, who they sign to complete their bench, assuming they sign someone, could come down to money. Miami may be forced to offer what they can to a number of players and see if any of them are willing to accept what will likely be a lower than desired offer. Of course, the market is working in their favor, so one of the remaining free agents could accept a modest offer from the Marlins. If not, the job at first base will belong entirely to Bour in 2017.