With the Los Angeles Angels trading first baseman Kendry Morales to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Jason Vargas, the team accomplished two important tasks. In one fell swoop, they addressed their depth issues at starting pitcher and did so by clearing out some of their outfield and designated hitter personnel. Morales, who was slated to DH for the Angels, is now out with the Mariners, and the Angels can now easily fit their starting-caliber outfielders between the three outfield positions and DH.
Coincidentally for the Miami Marlins, this move likely killed any chances the Fish had of acquiring one of the Angels' two outfielders who were previously available via trade. As Fish Stripes has been reporting, Peter Bourjos was of some interest to the Marlins, though that interest waned in light of his poor batting numbers. Due to the team's interest in a better hitter, the Marlins actually had more interest in acquiring Mark Trumbo, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
#Angels & Marlins have talked about Angels' spare bats. But Marlins appear to prefer the bat who's least likely to get traded, Mark Trumbo.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 18, 2012
Of course, for the Marlins, acquiring Trumbo would have been a fairly weak move. There is no guarantee he can repeat his strong, but not spectacular season with the Angels in 2012, and he is not exactly blessed with good skills in the outfield. The Marlins finally moved one converted first baseman back to the position after a foray in the outfield by placing Logan Morrison back where he belongs. It would be ridiculous for the Fish to then go out and acquire another first baseman disguising himself as an outfielder, especially in a spacious park that probably emphasizes outfield defense.
Bourjos did make more sense as a rangy center fielder for a large outfield, but it seems the Marlins wanted lineup "protection" around Giancarlo Stanton and were looking for power over speed and defense. Of course, this emphasis goes entirely opposite to their commonly spoken idiom of refocusing the team around "traditional" Marlins values of pitching, speed and defense. The fact that the organization preferred a potentially overrated Trumbo over a potentially underrated Bourjos for reasons that directly oppose the Marlins' stated goals of improving defense shows the hypocrisy of this tired cliche.
Nevertheless, now that the Angels have cleared out their logjam, the Marlins have no chance to acquire either player and will have to look elsewhere for additions to the team. We already mentioned earlier today that they were looking at veteran third basemen in free agency, but Ken Rosenthal reports that the team's top goal is to acquire a team-controlled third baseman via trade.
Another option for the Marlins is to pursue a top third-base prospect, and the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, Tigers’ Nick Castellanos, Padres’ Jedd Gyorko and Rangers’ Mike Olt are among those who are close to the majors.
The Marlins infused much-needed young talent in their blockbuster with the Blue Jays, acquiring three of their top seven prospects for 2013, according to Baseball America. Still, it seems doubtful that the Fish could put together a package to land a top young third basemen.
Olt has long been a name bandied around by the Marlins, previously with regards to Josh Johnson and now wiht Giancarlo Stanton's name involved. But with the Marlins unlikely to trade Stanton even with a Jurickson Profar / Mike Olt package, the team's best bet for a future third baseman appears to be sending some prospects for a player like Jedd Gyorko or Nick Castellanos, both almost-ready top prospects who are blocked at the major league level.
It remains to be seen if the Marlins can pull off such a deal, but they have already allowed the ship to sail on a potential move that would have improved the team now and into the future. If the Marlins want a future third base option, they will have to give up value to attain that goal.