Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Inbox: Who will be the Opening Day starter?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Marlins fans
December 20, 2017

Odds Jose Urena is the Opening Day starter? Any idea on what the rotation would look like? -- @WhoisHooseUrena made tremendous strides in 2017, transitioning from long relief to the rotation. He paced the club in victories, going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 34 games (28 starts). If there

Odds Jose Urena is the Opening Day starter? Any idea on what the rotation would look like?
-- @Who_is_Hoose

Urena made tremendous strides in 2017, transitioning from long relief to the rotation. He paced the club in victories, going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 34 games (28 starts). If there is truly an untouchable player on the roster right now, it's Urena. The 26-year-old's average two-seam fastball was 95.7 mph, according to Statcast™. The MLB average is 92.46 mph. Still, I'm not ready to hand Urena the Opening Day assignment against the Cubs on March 29 at Marlins Park. I am not convinced Dan Straily will be traded. Straily, who went 10-9 with a 4.26 ERA and led the team with 181 2/3 innings, could get the nod. The rest of the rotation, at least for the Opening Day roster, is up in the air. Wei-Yin Chen needs to establish health. Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino will get their shots, as will right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne.
:: Submit a question to the Marlins Inbox ::
Dillon Peters is also in the mix, but that will depend on his command. He may need more time at Triple-A New Orleans. Two Rule 5 picks, right-handers Elieser Hernandez and Brett Graves, each will get a look.
You may have noticed I didn't mention Sandy Alcantara, acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna deal. Alcantara, now Miami's top-ranked prospect per MLBPipeline.com, will not be rushed. I wouldn't be surprised if he joined the rotation at some point in the first half. But Alcantara certainly could win a spot in Spring Training.

Who hits seventh and plays right field? What are the options? This is assuming Magneuris Sierra hits leadoff and plays left, and Christian Yelich is manning center field. -- @dvaz2
For one, I think Sierra would play center because of his blazing speed, and Yelich would likely go to left field. As for right field? That player may not yet be on the roster. Braxton Lee, another candidate to play center, could wind up in right field, which would give the club one of the best defensive outfields in the league -- but one short on power. You don't replace the 96 home runs vacated by Giancarlo Stanton and Ozuna easily.

Would the Marlins be open to trading Yelich to the Braves? The Marlins seem to want to build a farm system on pitching, and the Braves have plenty of that. -- @josi_elder
Yelich clearly isn't happy with the prospect of being part of a rebuild. He has been with the club since 2013 and experienced five straight losing seasons. That said, it doesn't mean the Marlins intend to trade him. The club is not actively shopping the 26-year-old, who is signed for $43.25 million through 2021 and has a club option for $15 million in '22.
Perhaps there will be a change of heart and the Marlins deal Yelich before Opening Day, but I don't see that happening. A more realistic date would be at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July or next offseason.

Do you think the Marlins are going to go after Jacob Arrieta or Yu Darvish to have a true ace to lead a young staff? And do you see the Marlins trading Straily this offseason? -- @aespiritu2118
Neither Arrieta nor Darvish makes sense for the Marlins at this point. Both of those veterans are 31-year-olds and are being looked at by projected contenders. The Marlins are building from the bottom up, and the costly big-ticket free-agent signings are not in the plans for now. Keep in mind each of these starters will command an AAV (average annual value) of more than $20 million. That's a huge risk for a team that has payroll constraints.
With all the trades, do you see Derek Dietrich becoming a regular in the outfield? His power bat would be good. -- @drguava
Dietrich may wind up in left field, at least some of the time. I see manager Don Mattingly being flexible with the lineup and working a number of players in several different positions. Dietrich, who came up as a second baseman, has some experience in left field. He played eight games there in 2016 and five times in '17. I wouldn't expect him to be the everyday left fielder, but he could jump around from third base, second, first and left.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.