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Inbox: How will Marlins deploy Villar, Anderson?

@JoeFrisaro
February 10, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins FanFest on Saturday was a success, with more than 17,000 in attendance, meeting and interacting with the players, coaches and staff at Marlins Park. With FanFest now in the rearview mirror, the Marlins are ready to open Spring Training, with pitchers and catchers’ workouts beginning on

JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins FanFest on Saturday was a success, with more than 17,000 in attendance, meeting and interacting with the players, coaches and staff at Marlins Park.

With FanFest now in the rearview mirror, the Marlins are ready to open Spring Training, with pitchers and catchers’ workouts beginning on Wednesday at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex.

Heading into camp, there are still plenty of unanswered questions. MLB.com addresses some of them in the latest Marlins Inbox.

It’s a crowded outfield. Is there anyone going into Spring Training with an outfield spot already locked up?
-- @OhEmGsus

Corey Dickerson is a lock to be in left field, even against left-handed pitchers. Dickerson was a prime free-agent target. Matt Joyce is a lock to make the team, since he signed as a free agent to a big league contract. But Joyce appears to be more of a left-handed bat off the bench option and an extra outfielder. Brian Anderson, of course, will be in the lineup every day, but exactly where is unclear; it could be third base or right field. And Jonathan Villar will play somewhere. He’s a career infielder, with limited outfield experience, especially in center (eight total games). When it is all said and done, I feel Villar will be in the infield, either at third base or second.

Center field is demanding. If the Marlins were in the market for an everyday center fielder, they had all offseason to search for one. Instead, they went with Villar, a career infielder versatile enough to play the outfield. Lewis Brinson has to win the center-field job, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he platooned in center, at least early on, with Magneuris Sierra. Monte Harrison is a prospect who is close to being ready.

How likely is it that José Ureña gets traded before the end of Spring Training, and what is a reasonable return for him at this point?
-- @Unozerounocinco

I’m not convinced Ureña will get traded at all, especially when you consider the club had all offseason to move him. Yes, they explored trade options, but didn’t find a fit, and the Marlins certainly don’t want to give him away. Keep in mind, Ureña missed about half the season with a back issue, so his trade value right now isn’t at its highest.

After considering moving Ureña to the bullpen, the organization now plans on heading into Spring Training with the right-hander competing for a rotation spot. He’s making $3.75 million, which makes him affordable. Ureña's best success in the big leagues has been starting. In 2018, he had a 3.98 ERA in 174 innings, all as a starter. Whether he gets traded likely will come down to how he’s performing in Spring Training, as well as if the rest of the rotation appears sound. I could see the July 31 Trade Deadline as a realistic time to move Ureña, especially if pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Edward Cabrera appear ready, and there is a surplus of starters.

Do you have any dark horse NRIs that will end up making the team?
-- @braedont19

For the bullpen, you could look at non-roster invitees like right-hander Aaron Northcraft and “switch-pitcher” Pat Venditte, who, of course, throws with both hands. But the big name I’m looking forward to watching is Matt Kemp. If the 35-year-old three-time All-Star shows anything, I have a hunch he will make the club. Working in Kemp’s favor is that rosters have expanded to 26. So with that extra position player available, the Marlins could justify keeping a pure hitter, who could play left field. He would be a threat off the bench and as an occasional starter.

Will the Marlins consider inviting Henderson Alvarez to Spring Training?
-- @Jupitertulip

An All-Star with the Marlins in 2014, Alvarez last pitched in the big leagues in 2017. He's best remembered for throwing a no-hitter for Miami on Closing Day in 2013, but the right-hander has dealt with shoulder and elbow injuries, and he's a risk of breaking down again. Alvarez was at FanFest at Marlins Park on Saturday, and he remains a popular former Miami player. Even if he doesn’t get a Spring Training invitation to big league camp, it would be nice to see if he could get a Minor League opportunity, without a Spring Training invitation, to see if he could resurrect his career that way.

If Anderson is the long-term answer at third base, why not start him there this year, and have Villar play right field? Anderson never played outfield until he was in the Majors.
-- @pmiller66

I’m not sure how that is the best defensive lineup for Miami. Anderson has shown he can play right field. Villar has never played right field in the big leagues. For clarity, and I know there is talk that Villar will play in the outfield: He’s played a total of 13 MLB games in the outfield -- eight in center and five in left. He’s been a shortstop in 385 games, a second baseman in 333 and a third baseman in 54. What’s being lost in all the Villar talk is Isan Díaz. If he doesn’t show he is ready by Opening Day, he could be in the Minors with Villar starting at second, Miguel Rojas at shortstop and Anderson at third base. This is why Spring Training will be compelling. Not many jobs are completely secure.

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