Marlins ink Boone to one-year contract
Infielder will back up at first and third and come off bench
MIAMI -- Scratch the need for a veteran backup, right-handed hitting infielder off the Marlins' shopping list.
Quiet for much of the offseason, the Marlins on Friday filled a void by signing free-agent infielder Aaron Boone to a one-year contract. According to the Associated Press, the deal is worth $925,000, with performance bonuses that can bring the deal to as much as $1.275 million.
The 33-year-old, who faced the Marlins in the 2003 World Series while he was with the Yankees, provides a backup at third and first base. He's also a quality right-handed bat off the bench.
Essentially, Boone takes over the role vacated when Wes Helms signed with the Phillies.
"He gives us that right-hand bat off the bench," Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest said. "He can fill in at first and third. We're confident, based on the way he can play third, that with a little work with [infield coach] Perry [Hill], he will be fine [at first base]. We like the bat. He's got some power. And he gives us a little bit of experience off the bench, which we think is helpful."
While the Marlins are secure at third base with three-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera, Boone offers depth at that position. Boone projects to see most of his action at first base, either platooning with the left-handed-hitting Mike Jacobs, or being used as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Boone spent the past two seasons with the Indians. A year ago, he earned $3.75 million and batted .251 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs in 104 games.
A nine-year veteran, Boone broke in with the Reds in 1997, and he previously played for former Marlins manager Jack McKeon in Cincinnati.
"We've been talking with him quite some time," Beinfest said. "I think we're covered [with the backup roles], similar to the setup to the way we were last year. That [the vacated Wes Helms role] was one area that we wanted to shore up, along with the obvious ones [center field and closer]."
Boone was with the Yankees in 2003, and he belted the dramatic, extra-inning home run against the Red Sox in the seventh game of the American League Championship Series. That walkoff shot lifted the Yankees to the World Series, where they faced the Marlins.
The irony of Boone's home run was the Marlins had eliminated the Cubs in the NLCS the night before, and the team didn't know if it was heading to New York or Boston for the first two games of the World Series.
The Marlins had spent much of that day at their hotel in Chicago, and the team was at the airport when Boone delivered his historic homer.
"We were on the bus, just getting ready to get on the plane, and he hit the home run," Beinfest said. "The timing was incredible. The pilot said we're going to New York, and that was it."
Beinfest continues to search for the two primary offseason needs, an experienced closer and a center field upgrade.
"There are still some conversations," Beinfest said of the closer spot. "I wouldn't say anything is really hot at this point."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.