The Miami Marlins came into the 2013 Winter Meetings with two goals:
1) Trade Logan Morrison
2) Find a third baseman for the 2014 season
Despite claiming that Miami would be patient with the Morrison process to find the best return, the Fish flipped-flopped on their position multiple times before finally trading Morrison away for Seattle Mariners reliever Carter Capps. The Fish looked for third baseman types but could not find any interesting trades. They also wanted to see what a number of teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers, would do. It was rumored that the Brewers' first choice was to bring back free agent Corey Hart, and that the team would turn to Morrison as their next option once Hart came off the market. Ironically, Corey Hart also signed with the Mariners, giving them a potential cadre of first baseman and only two places to put them.
As for Miami, their first task was supposed to help accomplish the second, but because teams were not necessarily offering help at third base, the Marlins decided to opt towards finding their bullpen help with Morrison. In Capps, the team found a right-handed reliever with a mid-90's fastball, strikeout capabilities, and harrowing platoon splits. In some ways, the franchise improved, and yet it was difficult to point to the return of Capps and say that the Garrett Jones signing from the previous week was justified.
The Fish secured Jones on a two-year contract worth $7.75 million during the Winter Meetings as well. The Marlins are apparently well aware of Jones's platoon concerns and would be interested in someone to bat for him versus lefties. One name that MLB.com's Joe Frisaro noted during the Winter Meetings was an ugly one: Delmon Young.
The Fish would still have an issue with having too many first-base-only players on their roster and no designated hitter to slot them into. With Greg Dobbs, a right-handed first baseman type, and Jones, the Fish would have no defensive flexibility behind them.
But one of the rumors that came about during the Winter Meetings was that Miami was interested in trading Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs. Dobbs makes the most sense, since he is terrible and, if the team does follow up on finding a platoon partner for Jones, he would be completely expendable as a bench-only lefty bat on a team suddenly full of lefties. Ruggiano and the memories of his magical 2012 season have already been traded, as the Chicago Cubs sent left-handed outfielder Brian Bogusevic in a mostly sideways move production-wise. The Marlins did gain an extra year of team control on a backup outfielder and shed another $1.3 million in salary by switching from Ruggiano to Bogusevic.
And all of that should be leading to Miami's next desired move, which is to acquire a third baseman. According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, Miami is searching for someone who can fill in at third base this season and be able to switch positions, if under team control, when Colin Moran eventually arrives, which could be as early as the middle of next season. The Marlins have been rumored to be in and out of the chase for Juan Uribe, but with his market apparently dwindling, perhaps he can lower demands and settle for a one- or two-year deal. The Fish still have plenty of pitching depth with which to acquire a third baseman, but there are so few available in the trade market that Miami would be unlikely to give up top prospects for them. Names to continue to look at include ErIc Chavez and Jeff Keppinger.
So the Marlins are not done at third base, and they are not finished looking to make moves. But with the Winter Meetings out of the way, many of the dominoes will begin falling fast, with a few of them holding out until January or February to finish up. The quest for a third baseman could be a long one, and the franchise needs to use its remaining salary room wisely if it wants to acquire help.
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