Inbox: Biggest '23 impact among injured Marlins?

Beat reporter Christina De Nicola answers questions from fans

September 5th, 2022

ATLANTA -- Twenty-nine games remain in a 2022 season that hasn't gone the way the Marlins had hoped. Rather than making a playoff push, they are evaluating players for 2023 and beyond. Let's do the same in the latest Marlins Inbox.

Aside from , who is the currently injured Marlins player that you think could make the biggest positive impact on the team next season? -- @RealEly
A big reason for Miami's offensive struggles has been the absence of its run producers. That includes Chisholm and , who has been limited to 72 games because of pelvis and back trouble. The 2021 World Series MVP was on pace for a 30-homer season, exactly what the Marlins had hoped for when they signed him to a $12 million deal with player options for '23 and '24. Though Soler's average has flirted with the Mendoza line, he's a much-needed power bat for a lineup with the fifth-fewest homers in the Majors. Despite all of the lost time, Soler still ranks fourth on the club with 34 RBIs. Ideally, Miami would use him as the club's designated hitter -- rather than in the outfield -- next season.

If you had to estimate, what is the likely percentage that Don Mattingly comes back in 2023? -- @NPena14
Justin Bieber reminded us to "never say never," but the percentage likely is not high. Mattingly's contract is set to expire at the end of this disappointing season, though there's only so much he and the coaching staff can do. Every club deals with injuries, but Miami has struggled with the extended absences of key contributors. At the end of the day, they work with the personnel the front office provides. Same with the analytics department's metrics. Mattingly, who managed his 1,000th game in a Marlins uniform on Saturday, has seen the club from its José Fernández/Giancarlo Stanton days to its rebuilding stage, which has hit a snag.

Any update? -- @CarlHoops
Pérez, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 5 at Double-A Pensacola, has resumed throwing and playing catch in Jupiter, Fla. MLB Pipeline's No. 10 overall prospect is five innings shy of his total between Single-A Jupiter and High-A Beloit in 2021, so there is no need to rush the 19-year-old right-hander.

Is in the long-term plans or is he a lottery ticket at this point? -- @braedont19
It's hard to count on the 24-year-old Sánchez considering he hasn't pitched since Oct. 8, 2020, in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. Once considered a top pitching prospect in baseball, he has fallen to No. 12 on Miami's Top 30 list because of uncertainty with his health. Sánchez, who underwent surgery on his right shoulder on July 20, 2021, was nearing a rehab assignment until experiencing discomfort following a simulated game last month. He wound up receiving a cortisone shot and is completing shoulder-strengthening activities in Jupiter, Fla. Shoulder injuries can be tough to come back from (see Josh Johnson), and Sánchez's was considered relatively serious.

Do you think is the Opening Day first baseman next year? If not, is it , another internal replacement or an external addition? -- @dlo2411
Díaz, who turns 26 in November, is as good as it gets defensively. The problem lies with his bat, which hasn't been able to get going in 86 MLB games (54 OPS+). First base -- like corner outfield -- is a position that historically requires above-average offensive production. Cooper has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining and made the All-Star team, but he has been mired in a slump since July 2 (10-for-109, .092). He also has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career. The free-agent class will include , and José Abreu. Troy Johnston (Miami's No. 22 prospect) received a promotion to Triple-A Jacksonville in mid-August, but if the club wants to contend in 2023, it likely won't start a rookie with no MLB experience.

What in your opinion should fans be excited to watch for the rest of the season, besides starts? -- @miasportsminute
Why not show some love to the other members of the rotation? is so close to pitching a full season for the first time and has electric stuff. has shown what he is capable of when healthy, while looked like 2021 Trevor Rogers last time out. As far as the hitting is concerned, I'd watch 's and 's at-bats. Bleday almost always has a good plate appearance, and Encarnacion is a threat to leave the ballpark at any time. It's just no easy task facing some of the game's best pitchers and teams on a daily basis during a first taste of the big leagues.