The Miami Marlins do not have a lot of options available in terms of acquiring players, so if the team is looking to improve on the 2013 roster, it cannot be too picky or choosy. When it comes to available players for upgrades in the outfield, one name that has come up fairly often is Los Angeles Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos, who is available in part because of the signing of Josh Hamilton.
At first blush, this seems like a great match for the Marlins, who have not had a talented defender in center field since Juan Pierre's better days. With an expansive outfield in Marlins Park, one would think that the Fish would prioritize a defensive talent like Bourjos's, especially since he also has some speed to play with the Marlins' plan to "force the issue" on offense in 2013. In that respect, Bourjos would fit right in next to players like the returning Pierre and Donovan Solano.
But, as with all possible transactions, the issue is the price. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says that the Marlins may be interested if the price is right.
The Angels are looking for an established starting pitcher. Miami's Ricky Nolasco is set to make $11.5 million in the final year of his contract.
But the chances of the Marlins trading Nolasco before the start of Spring Training are slim. Still, there is growing speculation that the right-hander could be on the move close to the July Trade Deadline if Miami is not in contention.
For Bourjos, the Marlins may not have to part with Nolasco. The team might be able to put together a package of prospects. From an organizational standpoint, there is more Minor League pitching depth through recent trades and First-Year Player Draft picks.
So there are more pieces now than in recent years to make moves that could immediately help the big league club.
The Marlins have a few assets with which to trade, but it seems the most attractive trade option for the Marlins' side is also ironically the one the team does not want to send away. Despite the fact that it seems Ricky Nolasco wants a trade out of Miami, the Marlins seem adamant in not dealing the team's lone remaining member of the 2006 era. It is a nonsensical position for a team that has clearly punted on the 2013 season to keep a player who will not yield anything except via trade.
Still, there is no guarantee that the Angels would do a trade for just Nolasco, even if the Marlins include a significant portion of his remaining salary. Even with the logjam in the outfield, the Angels have to know a little about Bourjos's exceptional value on defense, so it is unlikely they will trade four years of team control of a league average player for one season of Nolasco. If the Marlins have to add any more players to the deal, it would be in the form of prospects, and then the price of such a trade becomes more questionable. The Marlins have outfield depth in the minors and would continue to have future depth at the position if they acquire Bourjos, so look for the Marlins to dangle an additional outfielder for Bourjos's services, if they were so inclined.
But Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald says that the Fish are indeed less inclined to pursue Bourjos.
Source: #marlins "not real interested" in Bourjos. Preference would be better-hitting OF.— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) December 18, 2012
The Marlins are apparently still looking for that so-called power bat to slot with Giancarlo Stanton, and thus they are less interested in the meek-hitting Bourjos, who is a career .247/.301/.402 (.308 wOBA) hitter. To a degree, this is understandable, as the Marlins are likely better at evaluating offense than defense. But the idea that the Marlins are, once again, preferring to emphasize offense and hitting over fielding is frustrating and indicative of the hypocrisy of their yearly "pitching and defense" talk during the offseason. Not targeting Bourjos and instead chasing a tougher, better-hitting target like Mark Trumbo would show just how little the Fish care about defense, even if their spacious park actually necessitates good defenders.
This is still something of a developing situation, and I have no doubt that the Marlins and Angels will likely discuss this a few more times before the offseason ends or one of the three extraneous outfielders the Angels have are sent away. But I maintain my stance that pursuing Bourjos, if a trade involves Nolasco and perhaps one of the team's numerous B-prospects, would be worth the price.