Miami Marlins

Examining the Miami Marlins’ outfield plan after the latest roster moves

Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson talks about Opening Day

Miami Marlins' Lewis Brinson speaks about his first Opening Day start with his hometown team on Thursday, March 29, 2018.
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Miami Marlins' Lewis Brinson speaks about his first Opening Day start with his hometown team on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

The Miami Marlins’ roster moves Thursday morning provided a clearer sign of how the team’s outfield will look on Opening Day.

The Marlins selected veteran outfielder Curtis Granderson’s contract, adding the 38-year-old to the 40-man roster and the 25-man MLB team. Meanwhile, the team also optioned Austin Dean, sending him to Triple A New Orleans to start the 2019 season.

With that, the Marlins now have five players still in big-league camp realistically competing for what will shake out as four spots.

But barring a last-minute decision, the Marlins’ outfield situation when they play the Colorado Rockies on March 28 should look like this:

Granderson will start in left field and likely platoon throughout the year. The team likes the veteran presence Granderson brings to the clubhouse. He has been a steady defender, and the plate appearances have been steady during the past week.

Lewis Brinson, who has shown promise this spring after a rough rookie year, will start in center field. The 24-year-old and Coral Springs High alum looks more poised this spring than he did a year ago. There are still concerns about how he will do at the plate and if he will make a needed jump in production, but he is sound defensively and looks like he could turn the corner offensively.

Peter O’Brien will start in right field. This has been the Marlins’ plan since spring training started

Rosell Herrera, the Marlins’ super-utility player, will likely come off the bench and serve as a backup for all three outfield spots in addition to second base, third base and shortstop.

Garrett Cooper, still in big-league camp, could sneak onto the roster if the Marlins have a late change of heart, but considering he had just 38 plate appearances with the Marlins last season while dealing with wrist injuries, starting in Triple A to get daily at-bats seems like the logical option.

As for Dean, who the Marlins drafted in 2012 and earned his first playing time at the major-league level late last year, the Marlins are still optimistic about what he brings to the organization. Dean batted .221 with four home runs and 14 RBI during his 34 appearances last year.

“Honestly, I think the experience last year was good for him, for sure,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Dean. “He had time in the big leagues and then coming into camp probably a lot more comfortable. I think he had a good camp. ... His time is going to come if he continues to do what he’s been doing.”

Other roster moves

In addition to the outfielder news, the Marlins also reassigned left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham, right-handed pitcher Héctor Noesí and catcher Rodrigo Vigil to minor-league camp. They also reached one-year contracts will all 26 pre-arbitration players for 2019 and renewed the contracts of Cooper, right-handed pitcher Tyler Kinley, right-handed pitcher Pablo Lopez and left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith for 2019.

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Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.