Baseball

Marlins, Jon Berti Avoid Arbitration

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The Marlins announced they’ve avoided arbitration with Jon Berti on a one-year contract with a team option covering the 2024 season. The deal does not have any impact on Miami’s window of club control. Berti is represented by the Ball Players Agency.

Berti is wrapping up his fourth season in Miami. The speedy utility player had the best year of his career in 2022, stealing 41 bases to lead all major leaguers. That he managed to lead the league in any noteworthy counting stat is remarkable, considering he only played in 102 games. That was due both to inconsistent playing time early in the year and a left groin strain that cost him a month of action between August and September.

The 33-year-old’s profile is built around his elite baserunning and the ability to handle multiple positions on defense. Berti started games at the three infield positions to the left of first base and in both left and center field. The bulk of his playing time came at second and third base, while he eventually carved out a top-of-the-lineup spot by season’s end.

Berti hit .240/.324/.348 with four home runs through a personal-high 404 plate appearances. He walked at a strong 10.4% clip against an average 22% strikeout rate. The former 18th-round selection has never had much power, as he owns just 16 homers through 303 career big league contests.

Miami has revamped its infield this offseason. Jean Segura — another right-handed contact hitter/speedster — signed a two-year deal to man third base. Miami acquired Luis Arraez to play second base, thereby pushing Jazz Chisholm Jr. into center field. With Joey Wendle set to man shortstop on most days, Berti looks headed for a multi-positional role off the bench. His defensive flexibility gives him the ability to cover anywhere on the infield if injuries necessitate, while first-year manager Skip Schumaker figures to deploy him fairly frequently as a pinch-runner in games which he doesn’t start.

Berti has between three and four years of major league service. He first qualified for early arbitration last winter as a Super Two player, settling for $1.2MM. This year’s salary has not yet been reported, though it’ll land somewhere between Miami’s $1.9MM filing figure and his camp’s desired $2.3MM salary. He’ll remain eligible for arbitration through the end of the 2025 season. That’s true regardless of whether Miami exercises next year’s option, as the team could decline the option while still deciding to tender him an arbitration contract (as they did in a similar case with Wendle this offseason).

The agreement wraps up the Marlins’ arbitration business. Two players who did go to a hearing with the club — Arraez and left-hander Jesús Luzardo — both prevailed over the team. They’ll avoid that possibility with Berti, the only other player on the roster who hadn’t agreed to terms by last month’s deadline to exchange filing figures.

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