Marlins set Opening Day roster

April 8th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Marlins on Thursday morning finalized their 28-man roster ahead of Opening Day on Friday against the Giants. First pitch is scheduled for 4:35 p.m. ET.

As manager Don Mattingly had hinted throughout the spring, Miami went with 13 position players and 15 pitchers, including 10 in the bullpen. They were able to make space on the 40-man roster for the lone NRI, Shawn Armstrong, by trading Alex Jackson on Wednesday.

"I think when we add players, it's always hard because there are generally players that you have to designate or run through waivers or try and trade," general manager Kim Ng said. "All those decisions are tough. But I think those were the toughest. Other than that, it was really just choosing our priorities and making sure that they got executed."

Catcher (2): Jacob Stallings, Payton Henry
Miami's first marquee addition of the offseason came in the form of the Gold Glove-winning Stallings, who has been heralded for his receiving skills. The Marlins believe his presence will only better an already talented pitching staff. Henry, whom Miami acquired last July in a trade with the Brewers, has been heralded for his handling of the position. He has just five big league games on his resume. The club elected to keep Nick Fortes and non-roster invitee Lorenzo Quintana at Triple-A to start the year, while sending Jackson to Milwaukee in a trade on Wednesday.

First base (1): Garrett Cooper
Manager Don Mattingly mainly has been starting Cooper at first base and Jesús Aguilar at designated hitter. During the regular season, they likely will split time at the positions in order to keep their legs fresh and their bats in the lineup -- a luxury Miami wasn't afforded without the DH in 2021. Both Cooper (129 OPS+) and Aguilar (112 OPS+) had their seasons cut short due to surgeries, and they each recorded three Defensive Runs Saved, per FanGraphs.

Second base (1): Jazz Chisholm Jr.
After winning the second-base job last spring, Chisholm broke out during the early stages of the season (remember that home run against Jacob deGrom? The blue hair?) before injuries halted some of his momentum. Still, the Bahamian finished two homers shy of the first 20/20 Marlins campaign since 2010. With the addition of utility player Joey Wendle, the Marlins hope the competition will push Chisholm to another level.

Third base (1): Brian Anderson
No one was happier to turn the page on 2021 than Anderson, who appeared in just 67 games due to left shoulder trouble that he underwent surgery to repair. Throughout this spring, Mattingly has compared the 2020 Gold Glove Award finalist to Kris Bryant, with the capacity of hopping from the hot corner to the outfield. The Marlins seem determined to work favorable matchups and move around guys with a deeper roster, so Wendle also will see time here.

Shortstop (1): Miguel Rojas
The club's unofficial captain signed a contract that will keep him in Miami through 2023. For much of last season, Rojas played through a small fracture in his left index finger. In 132 games, he collected 42 extra-base hits and played Gold Glove-caliber defense (five DRS per FanGraphs). Chisholm, Wendle and Jon Berti could spell Rojas, depending on the rest of that day's lineup.

Outfield (3): Jorge Soler, Jesús Sánchez, Avisaíl García
Adding multiple impact bats to the lineup was a close second to acquiring a catcher on the Marlins' offseason shopping list. The organization's big free-agent signings -- García and Soler -- will serve as the club's corner outfielders. Soler is the reigning World Series MVP, while García set career highs for home runs (29) and RBIs (86) with the Brewers. Miami doesn't have a natural center fielder on the roster, and that position remains the biggest question mark. For now, Sánchez will get the bulk of the work at a position he played to open his pro career, with the expectation that Bryan De La Cruz, Berti and García will see time there as well.

Designated hitter (1): Jesús Aguilar
As mentioned above, Aguilar and Cooper will take turns at first base and DH. While Cooper underwent Tommy John surgery on his non-throwing elbow, Aguilar is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Soler is another DH option.

Utility/bench (3): Joey Wendle, Jon Berti, Bryan De La Cruz
Defensive versatility is important to the Marlins, and Miami's bench players all boast flexibility. Wendle should see plenty of action at third, shortstop and second, while Berti can move around the infield and play center. The Marlins brought back De La Cruz, who can play all three outfield positions, after optioning him to Triple-A during the spring. That decision made non-roster invitees Willians Astudillo and Roman Quinn the odd men out. De La Cruz posted a 113 OPS+ in his first 58 MLB games in 2021.

"In the beginning, the idea was to make sure that he had enough at-bats, as our starters were ramping up, gearing up," Ng said. "It just didn't feel like there were quite enough. I think at the end, I'm not sure that we necessarily anticipated acquiring two pitchers [in Cole Sulser and Tanner Scott]. But when we did, getting that fourth outfielder from one of our 40 men was a lot easier."

Starting pitchers (5): Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López, Trevor Rogers, Elieser Hernandez, Jesús Luzardo
Despite using 18 starters in 2021, the Marlins rotation still ranked 13th in the Majors with a 4.08 ERA. If López and Hernandez, who combined for just 31 starts, can stay healthy in '22, that unit should see even better results. Hernandez received a scare on Tuesday when he was struck by a liner in the Grapefruit League finale. Ace Alcantara was one of only three MLB pitchers to record 200 strikeouts and 200 innings in '21, while Rogers jumped on the scene as the NL Rookie of the Year runner-up. This spring, the consensus clubhouse pick for nastiest stuff was Luzardo.

Relievers (10): Anthony Bender, Anthony Bass, Cole Sulser, Richard Bleier, Steven Okert, Tanner Scott, Louis Head, Cody Poteet, Daniel Castano, Shawn Armstrong
Miami's revamped bullpen ranked seventh in the Majors in ERA (3.81) last year, and it added Sulser and Scott in a trade on Sunday night. With the intention of going closer-by-committee, the Marlins have two more high-leverage arms. Dylan Floro (team-high-tying 15 saves) will begin the season on the injured list, and roster expansion complicated things with a full 40-man. The only non-roster invitee to make the club was Armstrong. And with an expedited spring, the Marlins rounded out their bullpen by pulling from their starting-pitching surplus (Castano and prospect Poteet) to provide multi-inning options.

"I think you build your roster from the standpoint of you feel like you want to protect yourself," Mattingly said. "You kind of construct your bullpen a little differently. Length early on, you're right on from the standpoint, we've got a few guys we feel like are pretty much built, and then a couple of guys that aren't. So we're going to need some length out there. Reasonably went with 15 [total pitchers]. We talked about 14."