Yelich could shift to left field in 2018
Speedsters Sierra, Lee may fill Marlins' remaining outfield spots
MIAMI -- If the Marlins opt to hold onto Christian Yelich, the 26-year-old may find himself on the move to another spot in the outfield.
Yelich could slide back to left field after anchoring center field in 2017. Although Miami's outfield is not completely set, Braxton Lee and Magneuris Sierra are a pair of speedsters who grade high, defensively, in center.
Lee, who shared the Double-A Southern League batting title this past season, may be the best all-around defensive outfielder in the organization. And No. 5 prospect Sierra, acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade, is perhaps the fastest.
Yelich has plenty of experience in left field. In fact, in 2014, he was the National League's Gold Glove Award winner in left. The Marlins transitioned him to center in late '16, and he handled the role full time in '17.
Moving Yelich to center field made sense with sluggers Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield. Ozuna won the NL Gold Glove Award in left in 2017, and Stanton was an NL Gold Glove Award finalist in right.
Yelich, Lee and Sierra are the only three outfielders on the 40-man roster. If they are the starting trio, Sierra could be in center field with Lee playing right. Defensively, it would be a very fast, strong outfield, but only Yelich is a power threat.
At this point, it's premature to speculate on how the three outfield spots will pan out. The Marlins continue to explore the market for potential corner outfielders who can hit for power.
There is also Yelich's status to consider. The Marlins continue to listen to potential trade offers for the 26-year-old, who is under contract through 2021 with a club option for '22.
It would take a huge overpay to move Yelich, but at least 15 teams -- including the Cardinals, Phillies, Braves and D-backs -- have had some sort of conversation.
• The Marlins are also listening to conversations regarding catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is entering his first year of arbitration. Realmuto is attracting interest from about a dozen clubs. Miami would only consider moving Realmuto in an overpay situation. Interest in Yelich is actually higher than it is for Realmuto, but the club has no urgency to move either.
• Manager Don Mattingly's staff is now set. Rob Flippo is joining the Marlins as bullpen coordinator, replacing Jeff Urgelles. Flippo served in a similar capacity with the Dodgers. Flippo reunites with Mattingly, who managed Los Angeles before being hired by Miami prior to the 2015 season.
• The latest non-roster invitee to sign with the Marlins is right-hander Jacob Turner, who reached agreement prior to the holiday break. Turner, who was with the Marlins from 2012-14, has an invitation to Spring Training. He offers depth as a possible starter or long reliever.