The Miami Marlins were among a large number of teams to supposedly have interest in soon-to-be free agent Jose Dariel Abreu. Abreu defected from Cuba and is attempting to make his way to the United States, and it is expected that he will become an international free agent this offseason.
Fish Stripes has covered the Abreu angle here and here, and I am of the opinion that the Marlins should take an Abreu pursuit seriously, even with a known commodity like Logan Morrison on board. But according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, the Fish may be lukewarm about Abreu.
Look for the Miami Marlins to at least show temperate interest in Cuban Jose Abreu once the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control clears him to sign. The recently escaped slugger, Abreu must first establish residence in a foreign country (reportedly Haiti) before the bidding begins.
A source said the Marlins no doubt will do their due diligence, but they are not smitten with Abreu to the same degree they were with Yoenis Cespedes when he was a free agent.
This is completely understandable from the Marlins' standpoint. Yoenis Cespedes was an athletic specimen and filled a direct position of need for the Marlins heading into the 2012 season; the team gave oodles of playing time to Emilio Bonifacio, Bryan Petersen, and Chris Coghlan in center field rather than filling that position with Cespedes. His batting line in Cuba was not as ridiculous as Abreu's, but Miami liked the fit for Cespedes beyond the Cuban connection.
Despite the likelihood that Abreu is a better hitter than Morrison (debatable, but a decent chance), the Fish still would have to deal with Morrison's situation were they to sign Abreu. Unlike Cespedes, Abreu's athleticism is in serious question, and most evaluators believe he is nothing more than a mediocre first baseman or even a designated hitter. Miami may know this and be concerned about their defensive situation, though admittedly this has never stopped them from putting bats in the lineup in the past.
The primary issue is that the team has an incumbent, so it likely does not feel the need to upgrade. But it is worth mentioning something that I said when this news first came out.
With Jeffrey Loria running the team, the Fish have far fewer opportunities to find themselves a superstar. If the Fish are not fortunate to draft a star like Giancarlo Stanton and retain him, the pickings are slim. Fewer and fewer stars are going into free agency as early as they once did, and the Fish are rarely the squad that sells the farm to acquire a star player from a selling team. If the Marlins see the chance of getting an elite talent at a price reflective of risk, the team should go for the high-risk option for the chance at a star player on the cheap.
Even if the team has an incumbent, the Marlins should opt to look for the potential star at a non-star price rather than stay with league average players and pay them increasing prices, as they will with Morrison starting next season. This would be agreeable, except that Abreu likely will not be cheap, at least not in the Marlins' terms. Reports have him looking at a potential $60 million deal, likely for six years. That puts the average annual value of his contract close to Cespedes's, but the length is even longer. The Marlins offered six years and $36 million to Cespedes before the 2012 season.
Money, then, might also become an issue in the team's potential pursuit of Abreu. Combine that with the fact that Miami seems a little indifferent about the first baseman and you can expect a quiet offseason on that front. Do not be surprised if the Marlins are rumored as suitors, but do not be surprised if they never become serious about acquiring Abreu.