Having already addressed several other needs this offseason, Miami's front office will head to the annual Winter Meetings looking for a temporary third base solution. The organization, starting with Owner Jeffrey Loria, has stressed the importance of improving the offensive production at third base.
Last week, the Marlins signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year deal to upgrade the offense coming from their backstops, and the squad added second baseman Rafael Furcal to secure the spot until Donovan Solano or Derek Dietrich become consistent enough to play every day.
It was also reported on Friday night that the Marlins are close to a deal with free agent first baseman Garrett Jones, which means the squad can use current first baseman Logan Morrison to try and acquire a third baseman. Confident prospect Colin Moran will be ready by 2015, president of baseball operations Michael Hill is only looking for a short-term player for the hot corner.
"As we look at the third base option we're mindful of what we have in house," Hill said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel. "Whatever direction we go as it pertains to that third baseman, it [has to be] a piece that fits for us but doesn't impede any other things we're trying to do on a long-term basis."
Miami has a pair of internal options that they could explore. Ed Lucas spent time at third last season, and Dietrich or Solano could be tried at third since Furcal will be the starting second baseman.
The Marlins could look to fill the hole by signing a free agent, though as the Sentinel notes, there are few viable candidates available.
The regular free agent pool of third baseman is a hodgepodge of mid- to late-30s former All Stars or Gold Glove winners like Michael Young, Brandon Inge, Kevin Youkilis and Eric Chavez, and former touted prospects yet to put it together in the majors like Chris Nelson and Wilson Betemit. Other serviceable options include Yuniesky Betancourt, Casey McGehee and Juan Uribe.
As for pure power, Mark Reynolds, 30, gets the nod among free agent third basemen. His slugging has dipped each of the last two seasons, but his strikeout rate remains well over 30 percent.
In the trade market, don't look for the Marlins to give up young pitching for a guy they'll control one or two seasons. That likely eliminates Chase Headley.
An interesting name that has popped up recently is Tampa Bay infielder Sean Rodriguez:
The Rays have expressed interest in Morrison, and if a pitcher and Rodriguez would be sent to Miami, the Marlins might budge. Regardless, Hill is confident the team will find the solution they are looking for.
"It's always been a very competitive market [for third basemen]," Hill said. "It's just a matter of making the best deal for us and finding the best fit. There are obviously options through free agency, options through trade. That's sort of what we're focused on now, sorting through that and see if it makes more sense to use our inventory to acquire this piece or if it makes more sense to try to do it via free agency."
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