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Marlins adding depth at shortstop with Anderson, but Berti remains a reliable option

The Miami Marlins’ outlook at shortstop got a little more interesting Thursday with the addition of veteran Tim Anderson.

The Marlins are in the process of finalizing a one-year deal worth $5 million pending a physical as first reported by ESPN and confirmed by the Miami Herald.

The signing adds depth to a spot where the Marlins entered spring training with multiple players with experience playing the position but none who had done so full-time.

The club entered the spring with Jon Berti, Vidal Brujan, Xavier Edwards, prospect Jacob Amaya and non-roster invitee Tristan Gray as the top candidates to get playing time.

The 30-year-old Anderson, a two-time All-Star who won the American League batting title in 2019 and was a Silver Slugger in 2020, becomes a likely candidate to get the bulk of the reps at the position.

But he had a down season in 2023, hitting just .245 (his worst in a season since 2018), with a career-low .582 on-base-plus-slugging mark and just one home run and 25 RBI in 123 games played.

“If the reports are true, I’m really excited. He was a great teammate to me and a great friend,” Anderson’s former teammate Jake Burger said. “He didn’t have the year he wanted to last year, but a change of scenery and joining the culture Skip is trying to build here will be huge.”

Even if Anderson does become the primary option at shortstop, Berti remains a reliable candidate to get significant playing time at the position. Berti is entering his sixth season with the club and has been one of the team’s most versatile players during his career in Miami.

“I just want the consistent reps over there,” Berti said. “I feel like Skip trusts me anywhere he puts me and I take pride in that and that’s why I work my butt off out there to earn that trust.”

Berti played 56 games at shortstop last season plus the two playoff games against the Phillies and has played in 100 games overall there during his six major-league seasons.

Berti’s numbers during his career at shortstop, per FanGraphs: 764 innings, plus-4 defensive runs saved and four outs above average. Last season, he played a career-high 443 innings and had plus-1 defensive runs saved and 3 outs above average.

Miami Marlins infielder Jon Berti throws to first base during spring training at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.
Miami Marlins infielder Jon Berti throws to first base during spring training at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

“He proved last year that he was pretty good at it,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “Obviously, he didn’t come up as an everyday shortstop. A lot of rankings will show that he was a pretty damn good third baseman when he came up. I think the thing about Jon Berti is he’s a baseball player. You can put him just about anywhere and feel comfortable.

“I played him in left field a lot last year as well and he takes a real good at-bat against righties and lefties. He’s a threat on the bases when healthy. I’m not looking for top 10 plays at shortstop. I just want the guy that can field the ball the cleanest and make the play, turn a double play and make the routine plays.”

Berti, whose wife, Jill, gave birth to their first child, Gia, on Feb. 2, said he’s preparing for the upcoming season as he has every other year whether it means added reps at shortstop or not.

“I’m just focusing more of my defensive work at the shortstop position, but it’s nothing new for me,” Berti said. “I focused a lot on that last spring training too. So it’s business as usual. My objective is always to get a little bit better. With that mindset, it’s always helped me improve and be a winning player for this organization.”

THIS AND THAT

Eury Perez threw his first live batting practice of the spring on Thursday on the back fields in Jupiter. Perez threw 25 pitches - mostly fastballs, but said he suffered a small cut under the fingernail of his right middle finger during the session.

Perez, who had his rookie season cut short due to right AC joint inflammation, is aiming to be an integral part of the Marlins’ rotation this season.

“I felt good overall going through my throwing program,” Perez said. “I was trying to throw my changeup and felt it a little bit on my finger. It bothered me a little bit but it was nothing bad.”

Jazz Chisholm Jr. was one of the batters that faced Perez and said Perez touched 99 mph on his fastball and looked strong on the mound.

“We’re on day three or four and he’s already throwing 99 (mph), it shows you how electric this kid is,” Chisholm Jr. said.

Sixto Sanchez will throw some innings in Grapefruit League games per Schumaker, who said he was encouraged by his live BP session on Wednesday, but said he still needs to make a strong impression this spring.

“Yesterday was a big day for him,” Schumaker said. “He hasn’t done that for a while where he looked like a big-leaguer throwing to big league hitters. It was really encouraging for him and for us so we’ll see what it looks like. He’s been rehabbing for so long that he’s one of the guys that hasn’t taken some time off. It’s a big year for him and we have to see what that looks like.”

Schumaker said Thursday Avisail Garcia will likely play right field following the departure of Jorge Soler, as well as being the designated hitter in the Marlins’ lineup. He also expects Nick Gordon to play mostly outfield although he could see some reps in the infield as well.

Jesus Luzardo is lined up to start Sunday’s Garepfruit League game against the Washington Nationals.