MIAMI -- Needing to be creative in hopes of filling their needs, the Marlins are taking a low-risk chance on a once promising talent.
Florida signed Alex Sanchez to a Minor League contract on Friday with an invitation to big-league camp.
Sanchez, who has dealt with adversity in the past, will get a shot to win the starting center-field job. Marlins pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla., on Feb. 17.
The Marlins continue to explore center field options, and Sanchez is part of the mix along with incumbents Alfredo Amezaga, Reggie Abercrombie, Eric Reed and Cody Ross.
Upon leaving the Winter Meetings in Orlando on Thursday, the Marlins continued to inquire about center field help. One possibility, MLB.com has learned, is dealing with the Devil Rays for B.J. Upton, who would be converted from an infielder to center.
Financial restraints prevent the Marlins from being able to go out and sign high-profile free agents. What Florida does offer is opportunity. Sanchez will get that.
On April 3, 2005, Sanchez became the first Major League player to be suspended for violating the league's new drug policy, which includes testing for steroids. Then with the Devil Rays, he sat out 10 days, costing him $32,787 in salary.
Sanchez was out of the big leagues in 2006, and he last played at the Major League level for the Giants in 2005, where he appeared in 19 games. He began that season with Tampa Bay before his suspension.
The 30-year-old Sanchez was drafted by Tampa Bay in 1996, and he broke in with the Brewers in 2001. He joined the Tigers during the 2003 season, and he was with the club in 2004.
Born in Cuba, Sanchez immigrated to the United States at age 18 in 1994. He attended Miami-Dade Community College.
Sanchez has excellent speed. He's stolen 122 bases in 427 big-league games.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.