The Cubs are said to be interested in versatile position players this offseason, and, of course, that squares with our general understanding of the kinds of guys they like to have available on the roster.
So, then, when I saw that the Marlins made a potentially cost-effective versatile player available, I took note: the Marlins have designated Derek Dietrich for assignment. Dietrich, 29, is set to be in his third of four arbitration years, and was projected to get $4.8 million by MLBTR. That the Marlins would be willing to let him go on that basis alone should surprise no one.
There was some rumored Cubs interest back in July, though it should be pointed out that interest before the trade deadline does not always translate to interest in the offseason. A team’s needs are slightly different, and the costs are also different.
In any case, though, let’s presume the Cubs always liked something about Dietrich, still have interest in picking up versatile players, and thus have interest now in him specifically. (And I’m going to assume the dust-up between him and Victor Caratini back in May would have no bearing today.) How does he fit?
Performance-wise, Dietrich has always been an above-average hitter (.254/.335/.422, 109 wRC+ for his career), while spending time at first base, second base, third base, and the corner outfield spots. He is not a stellar defender in those positions, but he’s playable. He has strong splits in his career, faring far better against righties (.259/.343/.434, 114 wRC+) than fellow lefties (.232/.299/.373, 86).
He’s also been a downright very good hitter away from Marlins Park in his career (.271/.351/.462, 120 wRC+), which I point out because Marlins Park has been to pitchers what Coors Field is to hitters – it was 25% harder on hitters last year than average, while Coors Field was 27% better for hitters than average. It’s been one of the four most pitcher-friendly parks each of the last three seasons, in fact. How about that, eh?
So, then, you get Dietrich out of Marlins Park and get him rotating around the field when you face righties? That’s a mighty useful player to have on the roster right there, and his presence doesn’t really require you to do anything else. He just fits on most teams as a good guy to have in the mix. He’s a lot like Marwin Gonzalez, but a little less useful in the field. But he’ll cost a ton less than Gonzalez will in free agency.
It is possible that Dietrich is ultimately going to become a free agent after the DFA process plays out (in which case the Marlins were effectively non-tendering him, but did it early so they could (1) clear a roster spot for yesterday’s deadline, and (2) at least see if there was a trade out there for him before non-tendering). It is also possible, however, that there will be sufficient interest in him around the league that it’ll take a trade in the next week to acquire him.
Either way, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him pop up on the Cubs’ radar.