With the 2021 MLB season starting in less than a month, the Marlins have a lot of choices to make if they want to compete. In my next three articles, I will detail my prospective answers to the questions below.
- Where does Garrett Cooper fit in Miami?
- Who starts at 2nd base between Jazz Chisholm and Isan Diaz?
- Who will be the 5th man in the rotation?
In this, I will be taking a detailed look at question number 1. This is quite the weird situation for Miami to be in. With it seeming more likely that Jesus Aguilar will be the Opening Day First Baseman, Garrett Cooper is left without a spot. Keep in mind, Cooper was top-3 on the Marlins last season in Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, OPS, and Slugging Percentage. At the very least, it looked like he would land in right field. The Marlins instead signed Adam Duvall, who will rightfully be the starter in right. This leaves no room for one of the Marlins best hitters. What happens now?
Let’s first take a look at the most-likely starters in the outfield and why Coop may be out of a role.
Starling Marte will without a doubt be the CF for the Miami Marlins in 2021; however, it is interesting to note that Marte had a well-below average year at the plate last year (both in terms of his normal stats and in comparison around the league). Marte has been extremely consistent otherwise, and will most likely break out of his rut with a full season to balance out his game. He is an All-Star talent and outclasses Cooper throughout their careers in many categories.
Corey Dickerson finds himself in a similar boat, actually, near the identical boat to Marte. He had a well below average 2020 campaign, but boasts strong numbers throughout his career. The last two seasons where he was an everyday guy were years where he was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner, respectively. In that All-Star year, he hit 27 home runs. His strong career average and OPS are valuable attributes to any team going forward. Dickerson has had a strong start in Spring Training as he continues to look like his old self.
This is where it gets complicated. Believe me, I’m big on Duvall. I genuinely think in any other circumstance, he should be starting all 154 games. He has been an extremely effective power hitter throughout his career and shows no signs of slowing down. Yet, Duvall in right leaves no place for Garrett Cooper. Duvall and Cooper are both stronger hitters on the Marlins, but it leaves Miami fans wondering why the front office went this route. Duvall can do what Copper can do at the plate, and he has played the outfield throughout his career. So he wins the starting role.
Where do the Marlins go with Coop?
So, does Garrett Cooper platoon with Aguilar and Duvall at times? This feels like the only option left, but not an optimal one. If that is the value the Marlins are getting, he may be better off traded away for more prospects (bleh).
The Adam Duvall signing was a good signing in practice, but in theory does not make sense unless they plan on pitching Cooper, Duvall, or Aguilar at some point throughout the season.
Overall for Marlins
I fully expect that either Garrett Cooper or Adam Duvall will not be in a Marlins uniform at the halfway point of the season. Especially if either plays significantly well early, their value as a trade piece outweighs their value as a pinch-hitter/platoon guy off the bench. Maybe that’s what Miami has been planning for all along. Time will tell.