The first big trade in this snoozer of an offseason brought with it the first big surprise.
Former big-league general manager Jim Bowden, now of SiriusXM Radio, cleared up the confusion:
Or did he?
Dee Gordon came up as a shortstop, after all. His only outfield experience came in the winter league just before the 2014 season. Relying on him to play the most impactful outfield position is quite the gambit by perennial dice-thrower Jerry Dipoto.
But now that Gordon is in the Mariners' custody, what other choice is there? Cano is at second base. Jean Segura is at shortstop. Both are locked up long-term. The DH spot is Nelson Cruz's domain. An injury could certainly change things, but as far as we can reasonably predict, Gordon is confined to the outfield for the long haul.
He certainly has the legs for it. In fact, it's his legs that make this transition so disappointing. A big-time base-stealer is among the rarest commodities in Fantasy Baseball today, particularly one who doesn't block an outfield spot. And while the base-stealing infielders can now count Whit Merrifield among them (to whatever extent we're willing to trust him), the group is normally limited to first-rounders like Jose Altuve and Trea Turner, making Gordon a uniquely handy pick just a few rounds later. He should remain a reliable source of stolen bases and batting average for the next several years, but where he contributed them played as much of a role in shaping his Fantasy value.
Granted, nothing changes for 2018. Gordon's immediate outlook is more or less the same. He'll be in another big park, which is actually good news for a player whose game is inside the lines, and he wasn't going to score another 114 runs with the (presumably) Giancarlo Stanton-less Marlins. In standard leagues, Gordon will retain his second base eligibility from a year ago, so adding outfield only increases his utility in the short-term. And given the current state of the outfield, which is heavy at the top and bottom but mostly uninspiring in the middle rounds, I dare say some owners will draft Gordon with the intention of playing him there.
But beginning in 2019, he won't fit as conveniently into Rotisserie league lineups. It's just one more reason for dynasty league owners to consider moving a near 30-year-old with limited on-base skills whose game relies almost entirely on his athleticism.
As for the void this deal creates in the Marlins lineup? Well, the offseason is just beginning (even if it's more than a month old). The best in-house candidate is utility player Derek Dietrich, who would remain strictly an NL-only option even with full-time at-bats, but Joe Panik's name has appeared in some versions of a prospective Stanton trade with the Giants.