MIAMI -- There is no shortage of candidates, and yet the Marlins have plenty of uncertainty surrounding their unsettled outfield situation.
When Spring Training opens in mid-February, center fielder Lewis Brinson is regarded as the only true front-runner, but even his status could be in jeopardy if he struggles.
The field could be complicated even more is if Miami makes a trade before camp opens or signs a free agent.
The Marlins continue to explore trade options for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Dodgers, Astros, Rays and Padres remain possibilities, and in some scenarios, an elite outfield prospect could be asked for in return. The Astros' Kyle Tucker and the Dodgers' Alex Verdugo have been mentioned in possible packages for Realmuto.
Miami has nine potential outfielders on its 40-man roster, and four of them could also be in the mix for infield spots.
Brian Anderson, one of their core players, could be either in right field or at third base, depending on how the roster shapes up. As a rookie in 2018, Anderson saw time in 91 games in right field and 71 at third base, his more natural position.
"I think he showed he can do either one," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said last month at the Winter Meetings. "Offensively, the guy still is going to be a player and he's going to get better and better. I think he showed he can do either one. I think it depends which way we go and what's happening with us."
Last week, the Marlins claimed infielder/outfielder Rosell Herrera off waivers from the Royals and added him to the 40-man roster. Herrera, who split time last year with the Reds and Royals, plays third base, second base and the outfield.
Peter O'Brien and Garrett Cooper are two other corner outfield possibilities, but they also are expected to fit into the picture at first base.
For Brinson, the time is now to establish himself as an everyday player after a rough rookie season.
The organization made a commitment to give Brinson every opportunity in 2018, his first full season in the big leagues. The 24-year-old had his share of growing pains, posting a slash line of .199/.240/.338 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 109 games. He did miss about two months with a right hip injury, and he showed progress with the quality of his at-bats in September.
Miami likely will show patience in Spring Training with Brinson, but that could change in the regular season if he isn't performing.
The other four outfielders on the 40-man roster are Austin Dean, Isaac Galloway, Magneuris Sierra and Monte Harrison, their second-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Harrison, who spent all of last year at Double-A Jacksonville, has no big league experience and likely will start off at Triple-A New Orleans.
Sierra, who turns 23 in April, played in 54 games for the Marlins in 2018 and will have to step up in Spring Training to win a roster spot. New Orleans is probably where he will start off.
Dean is a candidate to start in left field, but he will have to win the job.
The 25-year-old took a big step forward in 2018, combining to bat .345/.410/.511 with 12 home runs and 68 RBIs in 109 Minor League games at Jacksonville and New Orleans. He was promoted to the Marlins in August and played regularly down the stretch, hitting .221 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in 34 games.
There are three non-roster invitees who will draw attention in Spring Training, with the highest profile of the group being Victor Victor Mesa. Gabriel Guerrero and Harold Ramirez round out the outfielders in camp on Minor League deals with invitations to Spring Training.
Mesa, 22, will be one of Miami's biggest stories this spring because he's the organization's top prospect and was highly coveted on the international free-agent market.
A native of Cuba, Mesa, and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., signed in October. Victor Victor will get his first taste of big league Spring Training, but he is expected to open the season either at Class A Advanced Jupiter or Double-A Jacksonville.
"You see a solid swing and just listening to our guys," Mattingly said of Mesa. "He's a guy [the organization] feels pretty strongly about. Obviously, the way they went after him, and the commitment that the organization made, they feel strongly about him and his brother."