The Miami Marlins have already made a number of moves this past week to shore up their roster. Some have been good (Jarrod Saltalamacchia), while some have been more questionable (Garrett Jones). But Miami is not done making moves yet, as it has some loose ends to finish off as the team heads into the 2013 Winter Meetings, which run from December 9 to December 12.
The Marlins have goals to try and reach in what is traditionally one of the busiest transaction times of the offseason, but the Fish took part in what appeared to be a league-wide increase in pre-Winter Meetings transactions, so many of their offseason interests have been filled. Miami has already acquired their catcher for the next few years, and they are looking to follow that up with moves to acquire a third baseman. The team is also looking to trade a certain well-known Miami player who has fallen on difficult times at the plate and may have worn out his welcome.
What can we expect from this year's meetings? Let's preview the Marlins' goals for the event.
1. Trade Logan Morrison
Ever since Miami signed free agent first baseman Garrett Jones on Friday afternoon, Morrison's time as the team's first baseman was sealed. For whatever reason, Miami has decided to wipe its hands clean of the charismatic and occasionally troublesome Morrison. Of course, off-field concerns probably do not trump Morrison's significant on-field problems; the 25-year-old first baseman has hit .249/.337/.427 (.335 wOBA) for his career, but has been so bad defensively in the outfield and at first base as to negate all of that value. For his career, Morrison has just accrued about one Win Above Replacement (WAR) in 1479 plate appearances. The plate appearance count is also low because Morrison has failed to stay on the field, having missed 151 games due to injury in the last three seasons.
As disappointing as it may be for Miami to choose to trade Morrison in favor of the older Jones, the trade return may prove significant. Miami has received interest on Morrison from around ten teams according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (h/t MLB Daily Dish)
Marlins 1B Logan Morrison drawing strong trade interest. Roughly 10 teams have checked in on him this offseason, source says. @FOXSports1— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2013
Chief among those teams are the Milwaukee Brewers, who have previously expressed interest, and the Tampa Bay Rays. Both clubs are expected to be missing first baseman, and with only Corey Hart as a potential free agent option left in the market, Miami may get a chance to dangle a potential starter-caliber player with three years of team control left.
The Marlins would look to get help in their infield, as the team's next priority will point out. One name of interest that has been mentioned in Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez, who has fallen out of favor in Tampa Bay but can play any infield spot and the corner outfield. Miami's primary desire would be to fill out their infield, but the team would probably consider any significant return, regardless of position, for the now-extraneous Morrison.
2. Acquire a third baseman
The Marlins would ideally pick up a young, cost-controlled option for third base with the Morrison trade chip, but Miami will consider all options in finding someone for third base. With the team covering the second base situation with free agent Rafael Furcal, their focus now is to add to the empty third base spot. As of right now, the Fish would fill that position with one of two utility infielders, between Donovan Solano or Ed Lucas. But finding an upgrade is the club's second-highest priority.
The Fish do have options in that regard because, unlike at catcher, the team does not need a long-term solution. With Colin Moran likely two years away from a Major League job, the Fish could opt to find a temporary, two-year solution to the position. The team could also pursue this option either with money or a trade. The aforementioned Logan Morrison trade chip could be used, but Miami could also sweeten any pot thanks to a slew of desirable pitching prospects. If a truly strong name were made available, the team could even use one of either Jacob Turner or Henderson Alvarez, though these options are less likely if Miami only wants a short-term solution.
There are short-term options in the free agent market as well. However, with the signings of Furcal and Jones, Miami likely has probably $3.5 million to play with in terms of salary room. That should put Miami out of the running for a more premium option like Juan Uribe, who is looking for something closer to $6 million or $7 million. At this price, however, one cheap free agent option could be Eric Chavez, if he is willing to play an expanded big-half platoon role for a non-contender like the Fish. Other options for Miami include Mark Ellis and former Marlin Chris Coghlan, in whom the team has interest in bringing back.
3. Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 Draft occurs on the last day of the Winter Meetings, but do not expect Miami to be busy during the process. The Fish have 39 players on the 40-man roster with the inclusions of Furcal and Saltalamacchia, but the addition of Jones should push that to 40 players even. The team may trade Morrison sometime this week, but do not expect Miami to complete a deal for players who will not immediately join the roster. The team would have to clear room to be active in the draft, and this seems unlikely at this time.
Stay tuned at Fish Stripes for all of your 2013 Winter Meetings Marlins coverage!
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