Come March, when Spring Training rolls around, the Florida Marlins will without a doubt turn to Matt Dominguez for a shot to claim the third base job. Originally, Chris Coghlan was destined to man the hot corner until the Dan Uggla and Cameron Maybin trades left him in the outfield only this time in center.
But what if Matt Dominguez isn't ready with the bat? His defense is major league ready at this point but at 20, many wonder whether the offense is a year or two away. He hit .252/.333/.411 with 14 HRs, 81 RBI in 138 games.
If the worst case scenario were to occur and Dominguez end up back in AA Jacksonville, who can replace him at third base?
One automatic name that pops up is Emilio Bonifacio, the team's speedy utility player but the last time he maned third base, he committed 14 errors in 86 games back in 2009.
Even with the presence of Perry Hill, Bonifacio is better suited as the teams' bench, pinch runner, and occasional starter perhaps taking over for Chris Coghlan, Omar Infante or playing a third when a player needs a day off.
That leaves one available free agent bargain who was an Oakland Athletic since 1998, Eric Chavez. Let's take a look at why the Marlins should pursue Chavez as third base insurance policy.
Bringing in Eric Chavez would remind a lot of Marlins fans about a similar reclamation project a couple of years ago when they bought in Jorge Cantu in Spring Training to fill the void at third base for the Marlins, who had traded Miguel Cabrera the previous offseason.
Both Chavez and Cantu are of Mexican descent and were coming off seasons where they hadn't played much due to injury or lack of good play after performing well in years prior.
Lets take a look at the projected Marlins lineup in 2011
1. Chris Coghlan, CF (left)
2. Omar Infante, 2B (right)
3. Hanley Ramirez, SS (right)
4. Mike Stanton, RF (right)
5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B (right)
6. Logan Morrison, LF (left)
7. John Buck, C (right)
8. Matt Dominguez (right)/Emilio Bonifacio, 3B (switch)
Only Chris Coghlan and Logan Morrison are assured of a starting job and don't provide enough pop from the left side while Eric Chavez has proven he can (230 career home runs). If he manages to stay healthy, he can pull of a similar feat that Cantu pulled off in his first season with the Marlins when he hit 29, his first 20 HR season since 2005.
Chavez has yet to hit 20-plus HRs since 2006 due to injuries in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
If Eric Chavez has lost a step since he last played on a everyday basis, Perry Hill can surely get him back on his saddle at the hot corner. Perry Hill is the reason that former Marlins Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell won Gold Gloves in their tenure together.
Chavez has six Gold Gloves (2001-2006), and had not been for injury, Chavez might have a couple of more to add to his shelf. The Marlins could certainly use Chavez has the perfect bridge to Matt Dominguez until he is ready with his bat.
Considering his recent injury troubles dating back to 2007, Chavez is likely not get more than a Spring Training invite and that leads to the Marlins.
The Marlins are going to give Matt Dominguez and Emilio Bonifacio long looks to prove they can start at the hot corner, but if they aren't ready offensively, Eric Chavez, a proven Gold Glover and premium lefty bat, can surely help the Marlins.
Think of it this way: If Chavez ends up returning to his old form, the Florida Marlins will not miss Dan Uggla, and in fact would be glad they made the deal considering the defense their infield would have.
In any sense, the Florida Marlins should give him in a invite to compete with Bonifacio and Dominguez anyways. It will push them to perform, and along the way, Chavez can mentor Dominguez.