The Miami Marlins' chase for a third base replacement for the 2014 season just got a little more difficult over the weekend. While the Marlins were still interested in free agent third baseman Juan Uribe, the 34-year-old decided to re-up with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday for two years and $15 million. With the versatile Uribe gone, the Fish will have to look elsewhere. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com says that the team still wants positional flexibility and may look to Casey McGehee for that option.
McGehee had a great season in Japan and is considering a return to the States after establishing his value, but Miami may not want him unless he takes a minor league deal or a non-roster invitee offer. McGehee is likely to make more money in Japan next season, so if he accepts a move to the United States, he may want more of a guarantee at a shot at a big league role, if only to help re-establish his Major League viability for the following season.
Wilson Betemit has been a terrible third baseman for much of his career and is coming off an injured season in the Baltimore Orioles' organization. Of the two players listed here, I would imagine Betemit would be more likely to take on a non-roster invitee offer from Miami.
The Fish are interested in those players because the team would like a right-handed bat after acquiring two functional lefties with heavy platoon splits. Both Garrett Jones and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have extreme platoon splits favoring their performances against righties, and at least Jones will require a platoon partner. The Fish have no such player on the current roster, although the in-house option that was considered was utility man Ed Lucas. Miami would like to acquire either McGehee or Betemit for a dual role of third baseman against right-handed pitchers and first base against lefties, when Jones would sit out the day.
For his career, McGehee has hit a respectable .254/.324/.419 (.323 wOBA) versus lefties, and he spent much of his final few seasons in the majors playing first base. But Dan Szymborski, founder of the ZiPS projection system, warns fans about McGehee's value at third base versus first base.
McGehee's WAR projection as 3B is 1.3 in 492 PA. Near replacement level at 1B - just not likely to get enough defensive boost.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 15, 2013
In other words, if you don't plan on giving McGehee significant time at 3rd, he's waiver-wire material.— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) December 15, 2013
What I gather from this information is that Miami has a shot to get the most value out of McGehee because the team is only playing him at first base (where his projection is at near-replacement levels) against left-handers and in the best situation possible. Playing McGehee as a replacement-level first baseman versus lefties with Donovan Solano at third base is still preferable than running an already-flawed Garrett Jones out significantly against lefties, so the Fish may be best suited for McGehee's services.
McGehee would be a half-win upgrade over someone like Solano or Lucas in 600 plate appearances, so if the team is looking for marginal upgrades, he could provide them. He would also not take any more time than necessary away from top prospect Colin Moran should he develop quickly. If McGehee re-ups with the team, he could be shifted to a bench role and small-half platoon for Jones, much like what the Pittsburgh Pirates probably tried to do at some point in 2012. With Uribe off the market, Miami's best bet could be a re-import from Japan.
What do you Fish Stripers think? Casey McGehee a worthwhile option?