Marlins Notes: Park Dimensions, Outfield, Catcher, Villar, Aguilar
Changes are coming to Marlins Park, as the team announced Wednesday that the fences will be moved in and new synthetic grass will be installed prior to Opening Day 2020. “In going through the process of evaluating the playing surface at Marlins Park in 2019, we set out to find a solution to combat the challenges we have experienced with growing natural grass in Marlins Park,” CEO Derek Jeter said in announcing a partnership with Shaw Sports Turf.
As far as the park dimensions, the center-field and right-center field walls will each be moved in by 12 feet, making the distance to straightaway center an even 400 feet, while the right-center power alley will now be 387 feet deep. “We made the decision to adjust the distance of the outfield fence, which will now be more in line with the field dimensions you see across many of today’s ballparks,” said Jeter.
Here’s more out of Miami…
- The Marlins are looking for free-agent outfielders who are willing to sign one- and two-year contracts as they look to bolster their lineup in 2020, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro lists Avisail Garcia and Yasiel Puig as potential fits for the club, whereas Nicholas Castellanos, another appealing target, is likelier to secure a lengthier pact. Puig, of course, has a long and checkered history with manager Don Mattingly dating back to the pair’s days with the Dodgers, although presumably if talks between the two sides begin in earnest, they’ll work to bury whatever hard feelings (if any) still exist. Garcia, meanwhile, was linked to Miami last week, and the fit makes plenty of sense on paper; MLBTR predicted that Garcia would land with the Fish when ranking our top 50 free agents at the outset of the offseason. Recently non-tendered Steven Souza Jr., too, “will be explored” as a possibility, per Frisaro. The former Rays right fielder missed most of the past two seasons with the D-backs due to injury but topped 30 homers back in 2017.
- Frisaro also suggests that the Marlins will be in the market for a part-time catcher to pair with Jorge Alfaro, pointing out that free agent Francisco Cervelli and Jeter were teammates when Cervelli first arrived on the scene with the Yankees. The 33-year-old Cervelli’s career has been slowed considerably by concussions in recent seasons — including just a 48-game effort in 2019 due to concussion symptoms — but he hit .259/.378/.431 with the Pirates as recently as 2018 and has been an on-base machine throughout his career.
- The Marlins plan to utilize newly acquired Jonathan Villar in a super utility role rather than play him at just one position, as Mattingly explained to Kyle Sielaff and Paul Severino in a podcast appearance. In addition to his customary second base and shortstop, Villar figures to be deployed at third base and in the outfield at times. Jesus Aguilar, meanwhile, will be given ample opportunity to cement himself as the Marlins’ primary first baseman next season, Mattingly suggested. A return to 2018 form for Aguilar, who hit .274/.352/.539 with 35 homers that season, would be a particularly positive development for Miami. Unlike Villar, who is a free agent next winter, Aguilar can be controlled through the 2022 season.