Marlins’ bench spots filling fast

MIAMI — Signing Jeff Baker to a two-year contract fills yet another bench spot on a Marlins’ roster that appears to be filling up quickly.

Obviously, much can happen over the course of Spring Training, but heading into camp, reserve roles will be hotly contested.

The Marlins probably will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers. That’s subject to change, but it is unlikely the club will carry fewer than seven relievers.

Baker offers versatility because he can play first base, third base, second base and both corner outfield spots. The veteran also is a right-handed pinch-hit option for manager Mike Redmond.

Jeff Mathis is expected to be the backup catcher.

The frontrunner to be the fourth outfielder is Brian Bogusevic, acquired from the Cubs for Justin Ruggiano. A left-handed hitter, Bogusevic plays all three outfield spots, making him valuable because he can handle center.

Greg Dobbs, signed for $1.7 million, is the primary left-handed hitting pinch-hitter. Dobbs also can play first and third, and if needed, the corner outfield.

At the Winter Meetings, at least one team inquired about Dobbs’ availability. The Braves sought a left-handed bat off the bench, and had feeler talks with Miami about Dobbs.

Dobbs signed his one-year extension during the 2013 season, so it is understood that he will stay in Miami.

Baker, Mathis, Dobbs and Bogusevic are all on the 40-man roster, and they appear to be the favorites to claim four of the five bench spots.

If necessary, Furcal, signed to play second basem, could back up Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop.

The way the roster is shaping up, there could be one bench position remaining.

Reed Johnson and Ty Wigginton are among the non-roster invitees with plenty of big league experience. Johnson could emerge as the choice as the fifth outfielder.

Wigginton is in the mix at first or third base.

Those two aren’t the only non-roster invitees who will be seekign to win a job.

The new additions certainly impacts infielders Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas, two key players last year.

Solano started most of the year at second, but he can play shortstop and third. Perhaps that will give him an edge. Lucas plays all four infield spots, and he was a right-handed platoon option candidate at first base until Baker signed.

Derek Dietrich, a left-handed hitter who plays second and third, also becomes a long-shot after the offseason pickups. The same holds true for center fielder Jake Marisnick, unless he wins the starting job over Marcell Ozuna.

The goal of the front office was to create as much competition as possible, and make tough choices for the front office and coaching staff. Mission accomplished.

Joe Frisaro

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