Marlins trade rumors: Miami targets Mat Gamel, Danny Valencia as third base replacements

Former top prospect Mat Gamel headlines a list of potential low-cost names for the Marlins' open third base job. - Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

The Miami Marlins have considered a few names for their open third base hole, including free agent Mat Gamel, Baltimore's Danny Valencia, and Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison. Not surprisingly, those three teams happen to be interested in Logan Morrison.

The Miami Marlins have an interest in filling their open third base position despite the presence of in-house options like Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas. The Fish are looking to upgrade at the position, and according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, they could be looking everywhere for any sort of solution.

The Miami Marlins are looking at anything and everything in their quest to upgrade at third base. Among the options they’re considering: Mat Gamel.

A couple of names to monitor on the trade market: Danny Valencia and Josh Harrison. The Orioles like Valencia, a Miami native and product of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, as insurance for Manny Machado...

In addition to third, the right-handed hitting Harrison also has spent time at second, short and the outfield. Though he doesn’t bring much power to the table, some in the Marlins’ front office find Harrison intriguing.

The Marlins are indeed searching high and low for potential options. Outside of two of those players being native Floridians (Gamel is from Jacksonville, Valencia is from Miami and was drafted from the University of Miami), these three players have very little in common.

Gamel is the player with the highest prospect pedigree but is also the furthest from the majors. Gamel has not performed well in stints in Triple-A and the majors since once peaking as the 34th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America in before 2009. He has crushed Triple-A pitching when healthy, as he owns a career .301/.374/.512 (.380 wOBA) in almost 1250 plate appearances at the level. However, he has also struggled in the majors, having hit .229/.305/.367 (.296 wOBA) in 269 plate appearances in the bigs over three years. Last season, he had a shot at first base in Milwaukee following Corey Hart's injury, but he tore his ACL and was lost for the year.

Gamel has the potential power that Miami is looking for; it was what he was well-known for offensively as a prototypical slugger. He has posted a career .211 ISO at the Triple-A level and has hit 34 homers per 600 plate appearances at that level. But he also played those levels at age 23 to 25 before getting hurt last year, and he was already a poor defender at third base who had to move to first base full time in the last few seasons. He may give away as many runs as he gets back at the plate, if he can find himself regular playing time in Miami.

If you are looking for a more defensively-polished player, Danny Valencia may be an option. The former Miami Hurricane played third base primarily in the majors and minors, though he did spend time at first base as well in the minors. He also boasts a career .263/.302/.412 (.311 wOBA) batting line in the majors, making his bat likely better than Gamel's. That line was boosted by 170 plate appearances of excellent ball last season for the Baltimore Orioles, as he hit .304/.335/.553 (.381 wOBA) and hit eight homers in that time frame.

Valencia's issue is that, while he has not been moved to first base in the bigs, he may be on his way. He has been a net negative defender in the majors for his career and spent most of last year at DH for the Orioles. Baltimore, however, may still be interested in Valencia at third base, mostly because Manny Machado is still recovering from left knee surgery following a medial patellar femoral ligament tear. The Marlins have discussed a swap for Valencia involving the team's hottest trade commodity, Logan Morrison, but Baltimore seems reluctant to make a move.

If the bat is less important than the glove, Josh Harrison may be an option from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Harrison has spent limited time at third base, as he has served as a utility backup infielder for much of his Major League career. So far, he has performed well, logging around 10 runs above average in just a third of a season of play. Of course, that rate is not likely to stick next season, but Miami may be happy to acquire such an effective defender, even if the bat is less than stellar. Harrison has a career .314/.370/.486 (.383 wOBA) in less than a full season in Triple-A, but he looks the part of a utility infielder at the plate so far in the majors (career .250/.282/.367 line).

Harrison is the least offensively-minded choice, but he would probably make for a strong infield between him and Adeiny Hechavarria on the left side. Beyond that, he probably would only be a part of a potential package for Morrison, in whom the Pirates may have some interest. Pittsburgh is attempting to find an Opening Day starter at first base and could pair Morrison with another former Marlin in Gaby Sanchez in a solid platoon.

Of the three options listed here, Miami's best bet for production next season would likely be Valencia, regardless of the strangely positive projection for Harrison (.269/.310/.396, .307 wOBA, 1.4 WAR in 350 plate appearances). Miami's best bet for future projection may very well be Harrison, who is the youngest of the three players at age 26 right now. If his hitting improves a little and his defense remains firm, Miami could be looking at a solid lower-tier starter and perhaps even an average or so player under team control for four years. The cheapest option would be Gamel, who is coming off of injury and would cost Miami nothing but free agent money.

The Logan Morrison trade looms large over the Marlins and may determine the team's immediate third base future. These are but three options for Miami. Stay tuned for more on Fish Stripes!

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