Inbox: A call to (more) arms?

Beat reporter Christina De Nicola answers questions from Marlins fans

September 6th, 2021

MIAMI -- It has been a while since I did a Marlins Inbox, so without further ado, let's get to your questions.

Will Miami consider a six-man rotation next season? We have the arms to do it.
-- @TuaBeliever

I posed this question a few weeks ago to manager Don Mattingly in regard to the final month of the season, and he said there were discussions. But with four off-days in September, Miami is rolling with a five-man rotation of Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Rogers, Jesús Luzardo, Top 100 prospect Edward Cabrera and Elieser Hernandez. Following Sunday's loss to the Phillies, Mattingly noted that Zach Thompson's transition to the bullpen will give the organization something to think about over the winter in regard to his future. Until he got called up to the Majors in June, Thompson had pitched out of the bullpen since 2018. He could be an option to help the relief corps in '22. The same could be said for Hernandez, who has been unable to avoid injury for most of his career and usually scuffles the third time through a lineup. A consequence of going with a six-man rotation would mean taking away turns from All-Stars Alcantara and Rogers. Then there is the uncertainty of Top 100 prospect Sixto Sánchez and Pablo López, both of whom will be coming off right shoulder injuries. Inning limits shouldn't be as much of an issue in '22 as it was in '21 because of the return of a full season.

An adjacent question asked whether there are any young players the Marlins might try to extend. The one that makes the most sense is Alcantara. He is the club's ace and workhorse, with a shot at 200 innings for the first time in his career.

As entertaining as Jesús Aguilar is, he's a league-average bat for his position. With his strong counting stats, he's more of a nontender candidate than a piece of the future for the Fish. Why is he standing in the way of Lewin Díaz getting a full month at 1B?
-- @dlo2411

For the most part, the Marlins have followed through with what the front office said it hoped to accomplish in 2021: They wanted their prospects to develop in the Minors -- and not be rushed -- after a lost season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the young players were ready, they would receive callups so the organization could see whether they could be counted upon in '22.

That is what makes Aguilar remaining with the team rather than being dealt at the Trade Deadline baffling. Aguilar is blocking Díaz, MLB Pipeline's No. 3 first-base prospect, from playing in the Majors on a consistent basis. Díaz remains at Triple-A Jacksonville to continue getting everyday bats rather than ride the bench. The way Miami has handled Díaz differs from the way it did Jesús Sánchez, who has been up since mid-June (save for a monthlong IL stint). That falls more in line with the organization's objective of seeing its young talent in The Show.

The expectation is that the universal designated hitter will return in 2022, so Aguilar would be the perfect candidate for that role. Aguilar, who has one year of arbitration-eligibility remaining, is an extension candidate. If Miami were to nontender him over the winter, it will not have gotten anything for him. Garrett Cooper, who overlaps at DH/1B with Aguilar, can't stay healthy and seems to be a more likelier nontender guy.

Given general manager Kim Ng’s "wait and see approach" with Brian Anderson BEFORE this injury-plagued season, is there any chance for an extension after this season?
-- @edontes15

I got to speak with Ng while the club was in New York, and that was one of the topics she addressed. It has been a choppy 2021 for Anderson, who has been on the injured list three times -- twice for a left shoulder subluxation. Is a slash line of .249/.337/.378 across just 61 games fair to evaluate someone on?

"It is hard," Ng said. "The good thing is that he came back, and I was able to see him in a little bit better window. And so I sort of have an idea of what the high side is, and then where some of his lower points are, but it was great for me to be able to see that range."

If there is no long-term concern over Anderson's shoulder, the Marlins could offer him an extension -- and financial security -- with a lower figure following a down year.

Where do you see Anthony Bass in the 2022 season?
-- @AlejandroMatu5

Bass, who signed a two-year, $5 million guaranteed contract with a $3 million team option for 2023, likely would continue in his current setup role. His tenure with the Marlins got off to a forgettable start, with two blown saves, which set the tone for his '21 campaign. If you check Bass' splits, he has a 15.75 ERA in six outings against the rival Mets and a 3.17 ERA in the other 54 appearances.