The Miami Marlins are looking at a number of options in their pursuit of a fourth outfielder, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Per Frisaro, the club is primarily exploring "left-handed hitters to handle backup outfield and pinch-hit roles", with Andy Dirks, Nate Schierholtz, Ichiro Suzuki, and Will Venable appearing to be the four most probable options.
The Marlins are set to employ what may be one of the best outfields in baseball in 2015, as well as one of the youngest, with all three of its members between the ages of 23 and 25. Christian Yelich will play left, with Marcell Ozuna in center and All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton manning right field. The club is currently slated to use 26-year-old Austin Wates, who has yet to play in the majors, as its reserve outfielder, making the necessity of an upgrade evident.
The 28-year-old Dirks did not make an appearance in the majors in 2014, missing a majority of the season with a lower back issue. He was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in late October, but the club non-tendered him in December, effectively making him a free agent. A solid defensive left fielder, Dirks is a .276/.332/.413 (101 OPS+) hitter in 1,063 major league plate appearances with the Tigers from 2011 to 2013.
With the Padres loading up on outfielders this winter, Venable seems to have become expendable. The 32-year-old can play all three outfield positions and owns a 106 OPS+ and 12.4 WAR in seven major league seasons. He hit a career-worst .224/.288/.325 in 2014, but could be viewed as a reasonable bounce-back candidate, as he had just one season with a below-average OPS+ (99 in 2011) entering the year. He is also relatively low-risk, being eligible for free agency next offseason.
The 30-year-old Schierholtz seems to fit the Marlins' search parameters quite well, as someone with a heavy platoon split favored towards right-handers (.720 career OPS against righties, .651 against southpaws) and above-average defensive skills (he has been a +11 defender in right over the past three year). Ichiro, meanwhile, could be an ideal veteran option who can still provide value on the basepaths, as well as decent defense in right field.