Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson said owner Jeffrey Loria told him recently that he plans to acquire hitters, and Dawson said there are three priorities: third base, first base and catcher. But budget constraints again could prove limiting.
The Marlins have made it seem as though the team is interested in acquiring more talent, and it is of dire necessity for a club that may be the worst offensive team in the last 20 years. The Marlins' cumulative .231/.293/.337 (.280 wOBA) batting line is leagues behind the next-worst team in baseball, and all but two of the projected spots for next season are expected to be league average or better.
The question is how the Marlins are planning on making these acquisitions. Free agency may be a challenge for multiple reasons.
The Marlins could fill one or two of those priority areas through trades. There are three problems with luring high-quality free agents, even beyond how much Loria is willing to spend: The team is coming off a horrible season; Loria is viewed suspiciously by players after trading Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle a year after signing them; and the roomy ballpark dimensions –-- criticized by Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison –-- are a major turnoff to hitters.
The Fish have options for trade. The team has a number of pitching prospects they can utilize to entice a return. It sounds as though the team has interest in catchers, first basemen, or third basemen.
The catching situation in Miami seems most dire. The Marlins have no catching depth in the minors among highly-considered prospects, and it seems as though the team has lost confidence in Rob Brantly. Jeff Mathis is no one's idea of a long-term option at catcher, and he is only around for one more season. The team has been looking for high-minors prospects who have stalled and could still find someone, even if it is not like an Evan Gattis-type of player.
The third baseman situation is slightly more stable. Top prospect Colin Moran, the 2013 first-round pick, is expected to be able to start for the team by midseason 2015. But until then, the franchise has no options at the position besides journeyman players like Ed Lucas and Chris Valaika. The Marlins' best option appears to be starting Chris Coghlan at the position if he can handle it defensively, but the franchise has not committed to that experiment late this season.
The mention of first base is the most interesting one here. Logan Morrison is entrenched as the team's starter, but he is entering the first season of arbitration and could get too expensive by 2015. The franchise has Mark Canha as a potential replacement from the minors, but otherwise is lacking in options. Cuban international free agent Jose Abreu might be an option in terms of signings, but he might command too much money for the team's budget. But the fact that the Fish may be looking for a Morrison replacement is surprising, even given his poor performance.
Stay tune for more Marlins offseason coverage in the coming months here at Fish Stripes.