The Marlins are among the teams to express interest in free agent infielder Gio Urshela, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Both the Yankees and Mets were reported to have interest as well earlier in the offseason. Miami is known to be exploring the free agent market for infield help, with other reported targets including Tim Anderson, Amed Rosario, Nick Ahmed and Adalberto Mondesi.
Unlike that quarter, the 32-year-old Urshela offers only minimal experience at shortstop — the likeliest place on the diamond if he signs in Miami. The Marlins have Jake Burger and Josh Bell lined up at the infield corners, with Luis Arraez penciled in at second base. The Fish could potentially utilize Burger at designated hitter more often (or move him to first base with Bell taking DH reps) in order to free up some time at the hot corner for Urshela, but finding help at shortstop has been a priority for Miami this winter.
Urshela has played some shortstop in his career, including 71 innings with the Angels this past season. He’s logged a total of 359 frames at the position overall (plus another 276 in the minors) but has been primarily a third baseman — a position at which he’s logged more than 12,000 innings between the big leagues and the minors.
While there might be some questions about Urshela’s fit as a primary shortstop, there’s little doubt in his ability to hit. Dating back to a 2019 breakout with the Yankees, Urshela carries a .291/.335/.452 batting line in 1871 trips to the plate. He’s struck out at an 18.9% clip overall in that time but improved his bat-to-ball skills over the past two seasons between Anaheim and Minnesota; since Opening Day 2022 he’s fanned in just 16.9% of his plate appearances.
Solid as his career has been since becoming a big league regular, Urshela is also something of a rebound candidate. His power output with the Angels was curiously low to begin the 2023 season, with just two home runs and a paltry .075 ISO (slugging minus batting average) through mid-June. He never got much of a chance to rebound after suffering a pelvic fracture on June 15 of last season. Urshela didn’t require surgery but was on crutches in the aftermath of the injury and wound up missing the remainder of the season as it healed.
The Marlins are the only team in MLB that hasn’t signed a free agent to a major league contract this offseason. Urshela, presumably, would change that. Despite his status as a veteran looking to bounce back from a notable (and uncommon) injury, his track record is strong enough that he ought to command a big league deal, if not a two-year pact. The Marlins currently project for a $97MM payroll, per Roster Resource, which is about $13MM shy of where they wrapped up the 2023 season.
A more precise payroll figure will come into clearer focus once the club resolves arbitration scenarios with its two most expensive candidates. Both Arraez and closer Tanner Scott exchanged arb figures with the team after failing to come to terms on an agreement last month. Arraez submitted a $12MM request against the team’s $10.6MM filing, while Scott’s camp is seeking a $5.7MM salary against the Marlins’ $5.15MM submission.