How will this Marlins star jazz up the outfield?

February 13th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Christina De Nicola's Marlins Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

All  wants to do is win.

About a month ago when the Marlins had yet to make a splash, Chisholm told new manager Skip Schumaker he would be willing to move to center field if need be. The position has been a revolving door since the club dealt Starling Marte at the 2021 Trade Deadline, with six players appearing at the position in '22.

"It was really my decision," said Chisholm, a National League All-Star second baseman. "It wasn't really a time to be like, 'Oh, I'm probably going to go train because they're going to put me in the outfield.' It was more like, 'OK, I'm going to go in the outfield because I want to win. So I'm going to go out there, and I'm going to do my thing and let me see how I feel out there.' Went out there, felt great, felt like I could be probably one of the best out there, and then told Skip, 'Let's do it.'"

As free agents signed elsewhere and trade asking prices remained high, the Marlins explored other avenues of improving the lineup. They did so by acquiring 2022 American League batting champion Luis Arraez from the Twins. During her Zoom, general manager Kim Ng revealed that Arraez would be the club's second baseman, moving Chisholm to center.

At the time, it came as a shock to those outside the organization.

"Before we even traded [Miguel] Rojas and the Arraez trade," Schumaker said. "[Chisholm] pulled me in the office after kind of a get-together here and said, 'Hey, I'm willing to do whatever you want. If you need me in center field, you need me at short, you need me at second, whatever you need, I'm willing to help you win and help our team win.' When you're a rookie manager and you have your best player say that to you, that's a big deal. It's kind of like you can take a deep breath, and you're like, 'OK, this guy's in it to win.'

"Because you don't know these kids, you just don't know the guys that you're acquiring as a manager, and when your best player, the face of MLB The Show, is willing to do anything, that's a big deal. I was talking to [outfield coach] Jon Jay, [and] I was like, 'Hey, you didn't realize that you're getting Jazz out there. You have to teach him how to play center field your rookie year also.' But it makes me feel better about the Jon Jay hire, because he's such a good teacher and such a good motivator, that there's not a guy that I'd rather have than Jon Jay teach him. I feel really good about Jazz out there.

"I don't know. It might take some time. When I moved from center field to second base, it took me all of Spring Training to figure that out. Jazz is a much better athlete than me, so I don't think it's going to take him all of Spring Training to figure it out. But there might be some weird moments out there and some teaching moments. But I think he's going to be really good at it."

Since the day Chisholm spoke with Schumaker, he has been getting regular outfield work at loanDepot park with Jay, Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler.

Jay, who retired in 2022, ranks third all-time in AL/NL history with a .996 fielding percentage in center field. His job is to teach Chisholm the intricacies of the game. It helps that Chisholm makes adjustments at an "incredible rate," according to Jay. Serving as the captain of the outfield should come naturally to Chisholm because of his time as a middle infielder.

"You say the word 'challenge,' but Jazz is a phenomenal athlete, so those are the guys that transition well," Jay said. "If you watch him right now, you would think he's been playing outfield his whole life. It's been awesome to see him just kind of grow day by day. We've only been working -- the announcement was made what, two weeks ago? Right now, he can go out there and play some center field. So I'm excited to see him grow over the spring and just get better every single day, and he's going to do what he wants to do out there."