Edwards emerging as possible solution to Miami's shortstop dilemma

June 9th, 2024

MIAMI -- ’ original home on the baseball diamond was shortstop. He found himself in familiar territory in his return to the Majors this weekend.

With veteran shortstop Tim Anderson placed on the bereavement list and rookie second baseman Otto Lopez put on the paternity list on Friday, Miami recalled Edwards and Tristan Gray from Triple-A Jacksonville.

Miami elected to start Edwards rather than Gray or Vidal Bruján at shortstop for every game of the three-game series vs. Cleveland, which culminated in Sunday afternoon’s 6-3 loss to the Guardians at loanDepot park.

Before the series started, manager Skip Schumaker said the club knew what Bruján looked like playing shortstop at the big league level but not Edwards. This weekend was his first shot to prove himself.

“I would say it's gone really well,” Edwards said pregame Friday. “I usually practice at short pretty much most offseasons, just because it kind of helps me keep my feet moving. At second base, your feet can tend to get lazy just because the throw's so short, so I know I can't do that at short. So I try to practice there every offseason, but this offseason, particularly, I spent a lot of time there, so I feel good.”

The Padres selected Edwards, then a shortstop out of North Broward Prep, with the 38th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He saw playing time there during the early part of his professional career before moving to second and third base and center field.

The 24-year-old Edwards, who was the Jumbo Shrimp’s 2023 MVP, appeared on track for an Opening Day roster spot until missing substantial time during Spring Training with a left foot infection. He didn’t begin a rehab assignment until May 18, then remained in the Minors with nowhere to play in the Majors with Anderson, Lopez, Bruján and Emmanuel Rivera on the active roster.

“He's an incredible worker, obviously, having the Spring Training that he had and carrying over into the season,” said Jake Burger, who played first and third base this weekend. “It's always frustrating. I'm in-tune with guys that are injured, with my history, and so, just seeing him work through that -- something that's almost completely out of his control -- he comes up here and puts together a couple good nights and he's a great ballplayer. He's going to be in the mix for a while.”

But what happens in the immediate future?

Anderson and Lopez should return for Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets at Citi Field. If that’s the case, Edwards and Gray would be the logical corresponding roster moves.

With Miami 21 games below .500, might the organization at some point decide to see what it has moving forward? If so, that could mean cutting the cord with Anderson, who is on a one-year, $5 million free-agent deal and has -1.1 fWAR. The Marlins recently designated for assignment the oft-injured veteran Avisaíl García to allow for the right-field platoon of Jesús Sánchez and Dane Myers.

But do the Marlins have their future shortstop on the 40-man roster? Can Edwards or Bruján handle that role? Are either of those guys capable of being regular starters in the big leagues? Both have proven themselves at the Triple-A level (.793 and .807 OPS, respectively).

In Friday’s series opener, Edwards’ throw nearly pulled Burger off the first-base bag on Andrés Giménez’s fourth-inning routine grounder. Two frames later, he ranged to his right, dove, got up and sent over a one-hop throw to rob Josh Naylor of a hit.

On Saturday, Edwards couldn’t get the ball out of his glove on Daniel Schneemann’s infield single in the eighth. Over the past two games, he was part of four double plays. Edwards collected two hits and two walks in 11 plate appearances in the series.

“I think X can play at this level,” Schumaker said. “He hit a good double today. He played good defense. [We] saw at shortstop [he] made some good double-play turns, made a good diving backhand the night before. There's nothing that showed me that he could not play shortstop at this level. And he takes really good at-bats, especially from the left side this series against a team that really pitches.

“It was a really good series I think overall for X, for him knowing or seeing that he can do it at this level playing shortstop, the first time that he got a chance to do it. Now he knows he can do it. We know he can hit, we know what he can do at the plate and disrupt teams on the bases. But the question mark I guess was, ‘Can he play short’ for some people, and it looked pretty good to me.”