Fish Bites: Miami Marlins Sign Third Baseman, Should Seek Outfield Depth

Hunter Martin

The Miami Marlins filled a major hole last week after signing third baseman Placido Polanco. Miami should now try and sign or trade for an outfielder and/or starting pitcher to add depth to those positions. Plus links on Dietrich and the bullpen.

He hit .257, but only played in 90 games for the Phillies after several stints on the disabled list. Placido Polanco, whom the Miami Marlins signed last week, is expected to be the starting third baseman come Opening Day.

Polanco, who played the last three seasons in Philadelphia, appeared in only 19 games after the All-Star break in 2012 because of a back issue. Though his age (37) isn't expected to limit his playing time, Greg Dobbs may get some playing time against a right handed pitcher to give Polanco an occasional day off.

Prior to signing Polanco, several sources reported that the Marlins were "disgusted" with the third base market after having interest in but being unable to sign free agents such as Mark Reynolds and Eric Chavez. Miami was reportedly interested in Brandon Inge and Miguel Tejada before signing Polanco.

Despite being plagued by injuries the past several seasons with the Phillies, one thing about Polanco when he is healthy is certain: he is one of the hardest in the game to strike out. Polanco struck out 25 times and walked 18 in 2012.

Miami said that the money they were going to use to pay Yunel Escobar (roughly $5 million) they were going to use to pay a free agent third baseman. Polanco's contract is worth $2.75 million, according to several sources.

Although Polanco is one of baseball's most consistent hitters, he doesn't hit many home runs. The Marlins also said they were looking for a power hitter to complement Giancarlo Stanton, which justifies the interest in Reynolds. Over his three seasons with Philadelphia, with 2012 being the only season in which he didn't play in over 100 games, Polanco only belted 13 home runs.

Though the power wasn't consistently there, Polanco had 121 RBIs over that same span, and is expected to hit second behind Juan Pierre and in front of Logan Morrison. Manager Mike Redmond said that Giancarlo Stanton will be his cleanup hitter.

Miami's primary concern was third base because of a lack of depth at the position. The Marlins traded third base prospect Matt Dominguez to the Houston Astros in a deal that sent Carlos Lee to Miami just before the trade deadline.

Lack of depth, or in some cases production, is the primary reason that the Marlins should also be shopping for an outfielder. Giancarlo Stanton is a lock in right field, however while Juan Pierre is expected to play in left and Ruggiano possibly in center, Miami doesn't have a lot of internal outfield options. Chris Coghlan and Bryan Petersen will get looked at in spring training, though it wouldn't be surprising if the Marlins trade for or sign an outfielder.

-Marlins prospect Derek Dietrich, who was acquired in the Yunel Escobar trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, ranks ninth on the Marlins' list of Top 20 prospects. Baseball is also believed to be in Dietrich's blood, as his maternal grandfather is a former big league third baseman, as well as minor league manager and scout. "My parents always said it: Baseball was absolutely in my blood," Dietrich said.

-Though Polanco is expected to be Miami's starting third baseman, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Zack Cox and Chris Coghlan can all see time at the hot corner if Polanco gets injured or needs a day off. The fact that the Marlins signed Polanco means that Dobbs can remain in the utility role that he has thrived in.

-Before they signed Polanco, the Marlins had scouted Miguel Tejada, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2011. is playing winter ball for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Republic. It is unclear if the Marlins would consider offering Tejada a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training after signing Polanco.

-Adding a power bat is something that the Marlins have made a priority. A Peter Bourjos for Ricky Nolasco type deal had been rumored, though it would probably take more than Nolasco to acquire Bourjos. At the winter meetings, the Marlins also said that they did not want to move Nolasco. It is unlikely that the Angels would be interested in trading Bourjos after trading Kendry Morales last week.

-Joe Frisaro expects the Marlins to add a bullpen arm or two before the start of spring training. Steve Cishek is expected to close games, while the role's of the remaining arms in the 'pen are going to be formed through competition in spring training.

Around The League

-The Cleveland Indians signed outfielder Nick Swisher to a four-year, $58 million contract on Sunday. The contract includes a vesting option for 2017 worth $14 million.

-Raul Ibanez is heading to Seattle for his third stint with the Mariners, after he signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million. Ibanez batted .240 with the Yankees in 2012.

-According to a source, the Red Sox and Pirates are close to finishing a deal that would sent Joel Hanrahan to Boston. The deal is not expected to be completed until after the holidays.

-The Arizona Diamondbacks signed outfielder Cody Ross on Saturday. "I've always longed to play for the Diamondbacks and I just never thought it was a fit," Ross said. "And then all of a sudden Kevin calls my agent and the next thing you know it happened so fast that we're still just jumping up and down. My wife and I, and kids are ecstatic and could not be happier right now."

-The Nationals and first baseman Adam LaRoche are inching closer to getting a deal done, according to reports.

At Fish Stripes

-The Marlins made the best out of a bad situation by signing Placido Polanco.

-How did Marlins prospect Mark Canha do in 2012? Find out here.

-Miami isn't likely to trade for Peter Bourjos after the Angels traded Kendry Morales last week.

-Why are the Marlins hesitant to trade Ricky Nolasco?

-How did trading Jose Reyes compare to trading R.A. Dickey? Find out here.

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