Filling bench roles next on offseason agenda

With no fourth outfielder on roster, Marlins could rely on organizational depth

Filling bench roles next on offseason agenda

MIAMI -- Barring anything unforeseen, the Marlins' everyday lineup is pretty much set after a series of offseason moves that brought in three new regulars. When it comes to the bench, however, it's a different story.

The front office still has some unfinished business when it comes to finding a fourth outfielder and a left-handed hitter who can play a corner-infield spot. There are several internal candidates, but chances are the team will make another move or two before Spring Training to strengthen the overall roster.

For instance, in 2014, Reed Johnson was a big contributor as an extra outfielder and pinch-hitter. He won his job as a non-roster invitee. Johnson remains a free agent, and he could be brought back to try to win a role again in Spring Training.

MLB.com takes a look at five reserve roles that are up for grabs:

Fourth outfielder: Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton are the regulars, and yet, the only outfielders currently on the 40-man roster. Who will be the extra outfielder is wide open. Two internal candidates -- both on the Triple-A New Orleans roster -- are Austin Wates and Cole Gillespie. Wates was acquired from Houston in the Jarred Cosart trade. Defensively, both could handle the job, but they are not threats at the plate. Don't discount either player.

Baker's two-run homer

Primary pinch-hitter: Jeff Baker's 12 pinch-hits were second most on the team to Johnson's 16 last season. Baker, also a double-switch candidate, is back and currently the frontrunner to be the primary pinch-hit specialist. He also can play first.

Lefty bat off bench: Justin Bour, 26, spent most of this past season in New Orleans. He showed promise in 39 games with Miami, batting .284 with a .361 on-base percentage. Bour is a late-inning defensive-replacement candidate for Michael Morse.

Infielders: Donovan Solano, Miguel Rojas and Derek Dietrich are on the 40-man roster. Solano and Rojas can play second, third and short. Dietrich is a choice for second, third and maybe first. In the instructional league in September, he even got some work in left field. Something to watch. Non-roster invitees Reid Brignac and Jordany Valdespin will get a look.

Catcher: Jeff Mathis had his club option exercised, so he returns to back up Jarrod Saltalamacchia. J.T. Realmuto is considered the catcher of the future, who projects to open at New Orleans. Non-roster invitee Jhonatan Solano offers MLB experience and is talented defensively, if he is called upon.

Joe Frisarois a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.