Marlins To Sign Tim Anderson

Marlins To Sign Tim Anderson


The Marlins and free agent shortstop Tim Anderson are in agreement on a one-year, $5MM contract, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN. The deal is pending a physical. Anderson is repped by Excel Sports Management.

Anderson, 30, was arguably the best shortstop in a very weak middle infield class. A two-time All-Star and 2019 batting champ, he looked like one of the better shortstops in the majors as recently as a season ago. He’s coming off the worst year of his career, though, as he struggled to a .245/.286/.296 batting line in 524 plate appearances. Anderson connected on just one home run.

While his offensive profile has never been driven primarily by power, he reached double digits in homers each year between 2017-21. That dropped to six homers in a 2022 season cut short by a ligament tear in his left middle finger, although he still managed a .301/.339/.395 slash. His entire offensive profile plummeted last season.

Anderson struck out in 23.3% of his plate appearances, his highest rate since 2018. He put more than three-fifths of his batted balls on the ground, a personal-high clip. That led to his worst average and on-base marks since 2018 in addition to the lowest power production of his career.

That led the White Sox to buy Anderson out for $1MM in lieu of a $14MM club option, ending a strong eight-year run on Chicago’s South Side. General manager Chris Getz has kicked off at least an abbreviated rebuild, bringing in Paul DeJong on a modest $1.75MM free agent deal to solidify the defense.

Anderson has increasingly struggled on that side of the ball as well. By measure of Defensive Runs Saved, he has rated a combined 23 runs below average over the past two seasons. Only Bobby Witt Jr. has a lower total at the position. Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric hasn’t been nearly as bearish, grading Anderson slightly below par in both years. It’s possible that lower body injuries have played a role in that downturn. Over the past three seasons, he has missed time with a left hamstring strain, a right groin strain, and a sprained left knee (in addition to the aforementioned finger injury).

The veteran infielder expressed a willingness to move to the other side of the second base bag. That won’t be necessary in Miami, which has sought shortstop help throughout the winter. The Fish let Joey Wendle depart after a lackluster 2023 campaign. Jon Berti is best suited in a utility role, while none of Xavier Edwards, Jacob Amaya or Vidal Bruján is established at the MLB level.

Miami has a two-time batting champ, Luis Arraez, at the keystone. The up-the-middle pairing of Anderson and Arraez isn’t likely to be a great defensive group, but there’s significant offensive upside if Anderson rebounds. Between 2019-22, Anderson had an excellent .318/.347/.473 line in more than 1600 trips to the plate. Among hitters with at least 2000 plate appearances over the past five seasons, he’s still third in batting average. Arraez leads the way at .326, while only Freddie Freeman (.315) also stands above Anderson, who has hit .300 since 2019.

It’s a fairly inexpensive pickup for the Fish on what is remarkably their first major league free agent deal of the offseason. That means it’s also the first MLB contract for new president of baseball operations Peter Bendix, who has presided over a quiet winter in South Florida. Ever present payroll constraints contributed to Miami’s decision to let Jorge Soler walk after a 36-homer season. They haven’t replaced Soler at DH or addressed the rotation in response to Sandy Alcantara’s Tommy John surgery, but Anderson brings a higher ceiling than last year’s collection of shortstops.

Roster Resource calculates the team’s player payroll around $100MM. That’s above last season’s approximate $93MM season-opening mark but still places them firmly in the league’s bottom third in spending. Miami will need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move once the signing is finalized, but that’ll likely be accomplished by placing Alcantara on the 60-day injured list.

If Anderson returns to form, he’ll have a shot at a better multi-year deal a year from now. He’ll return to free agency next winter in advance of his age-32 season. Willy Adames headlines what otherwise looks like another weak group of free agent shortstops. Gleyber Torres will be the top second baseman, while Anderson and Amed Rosario (who signed a $1.5MM deal with Tampa Bay this week) are the most interesting rebound candidates.


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