Inbox: Is Smith in Marlins' long-term plans?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro fields fans' questions

October 8th, 2019

MIAMI -- Questions about , free agents and more are answered in the latest Inbox.

Do you think Smith is in the Marlins’ long-term plans? And is he the Opening Day starter next year?
-- @Rick_Oster

Absolutely, Smith is a big part of the Marlins’ rotation moving forward. The left-hander is arbitration-eligible beginning in 2021, and not eligible for free agency until '24. Now, that doesn’t mean he is an extension candidate at this point, especially due to some durability concerns. Left hip inflammation sidelined him for a month this year, and in the second half, the 28-year-old wore down a bit. According to Statcast, Smith’s four-seam fastball velocity after July 6, when he was reinstated from the injured list, was 91.3 mph. It was 92.2 mph from the start of the season through May 31. And on June 4, in a loss at Milwaukee, his four-seamer averaged 90.9 mph. Smith went on the IL after that June start and missed a month.

Overall, Smith paced the team in wins, and went 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA in 153 1/3 innings. Even with some pitching prospects getting closer to reaching the Majors, Smith actually has performed at the big league level. I see him as the No. 2 starter entering Spring Training, with getting the nod for Opening Day.

Any surprise free agents out there you could see the Marlins going after?
-- @braedont19

Some may be surprised to know that last offseason the Marlins made a strong push to sign infielder , who eventually went to the Yankees on a two-year, $24 million deal, and was an All-Star.

Where the Marlins are in their building process, you can rule out being in the mix for , and . The top of the free-agent class is not where the Marlins will be shopping.

To me, the Marlins should at least explore bringing back Cardinals outfielder , because he came up through the Miami system and was always comfortable playing in Miami. Plus, he is a legitimate power threat.

Some will speculate about , because he will be 30 years old next season, is coming off a down year and may have a limited market. Plus, the Yankees have LeMahieu as a candidate to play second and has shown he can play shortstop. If Gregorius is made a qualifying offer, which means the Yankees would get Draft pick compensation if the shortstop signs elsewhere, the Marlins should be hesitant to part with a high 2020 Draft pick.

Will get another chance next year? And will still be on the Opening Day roster or will the team eat the money left on his contract and release him?
-- @real_fish_fan

With Brinson having an option remaining for 2020, you can’t say his time is up just yet with the Marlins. But it is safe to say, in the eyes of the organization, it’s time for Brinson to produce. The 25-year-old comes off his second straight disappointing season since being acquired from the Brewers as part of the Christian Yelich trade. Brinson, in 75 big league games, hit .173/.236/.221 with no home runs. That was a decline from '18, when he hit .199/.240/.338 with 11 home runs. So clearly, in Spring Training, he has to make his case that he still can add value. If he struggles, he could still go to Triple-A to see if he figures things out.

As for Chen, the 34-year-old is owed $22 million in 2020. His contract includes a $16 million vesting option for '21. I could see Chen being in Spring Training with the club, and if he shows he can serve a role, either in relief, or as an opener or spot starter, then he could be part of the plans for '20, at least early. And if he falters, he could be a candidate to be released.

How likely is it that Jesús Sánchez or makes the club out of Spring Training? Do the Marlins feel either or both still needs time in Triple-A, even if they put on a good Spring Training performance?
-- @jason_beland

Sánchez, acquired from the Rays, is ranked by MLB Pipeline, is the Marlins’ No. 3 prospect, and No. 51 on the overall Top 100 list. Harrison is Miami's No. 5 prospect, and No. 83 overall. Both should reach the big leagues in 2020, but perhaps not as early as Opening Day. Harrison was in line to be a September callup before undergoing right wrist surgery. Sánchez dealt with a hamstring issue late in the season. The Marlins won’t rush either.

With being out of options, do you consider him a lock to make the Marlins’ Opening Day roster?
-- @EspoBoomin

The 23-year-old speedster showed some promising signs in the 15 games he appeared in as a September callup. But he wasn’t able to complete the month due to a mild left hamstring strain. The fact he’s out of options means he may be dealt this offseason, because if he struggles during the 2020 season, he can't be sent to the Minors. But if he isn’t traded, and he steps up in Spring Training, then I do think it increases his chances to be on the Opening Day roster.