The Marlins have been heavily represented in the rumor mills since the start of the free agent season, but it has not all been associated with signings. The Fish also have ties in the trade market, as the team is interested in picking up starting pitching and has a surplus in available first basemen. With Logan Morrison struggling in left field, the team has the ability to trade one of either Morrison or Gaby Sanchez for a pitching return, thus avoiding (or enhancing?) an expensive free agent signing.
That is one tough stance that the Marlins would be taking regarding Morrison, especially with him coming off a sub-standard season. But it would seem that the Marlins value Morrison very highly, as well they should. Last season was a struggle, but he did still hit decently (.247/.330/.468, .344 wOBA) and his tools in terms of plate discipline and power potential are well known. What Joe Frisaro mentioned earlier may have been a tad on the superlative side:
Morrison fits the profile of potentially prolific hitter who is just awful in the corner outfield like Braun, but of course Braun hit .324/.370/.634 when he was 23 years old and is not nearly as patient at the plate as Morrison so the comparison is more than jumping the gun. Nevertheless, Morrison is promising, and the Marlins have good reason to rush into a trade.
Then again, they did make it know that they are interested at least in Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields, who would be a worthy acquisition. Would the Marlins benefit from a swap of the two players?I talked to Steve Slowinski, managing editor at DRaysBay, via Twitter earlier today regarding a possible Morrison / Shields swap. He mentioned the Rays would be reluctant to do a one-for-one trade, but that such a deal may actually be more likely to be favored for the Marlins based on the numbers. The numbers in the link show the likely surplus or trade value of these players, both in conservative and aggressive estimates of Wins Above Replacement. As you can see, even if you take an aggressive approach with Shields and a conservative development with Morrison, the Marlins are still providing a lot of surplus value to the Rays in return, on the order of $7 million in surplus value.
So why would the Rays not do it? Shields is coming off a strong season and the Rays want more than just one player in return, even if that player is a good young first baseman who was a top prospect just a few years ago (ranked #20 by Baseball America before the 2010 season). Why would the Marlins do it? They would be trading a potentially great hitter now, but they would be acquiring a strong starting pitcher on a cheap contract for three years. Shields is still highly affordable on his current team-friendly deal. And with Morrison in left field, the Marlins would be getting less value from Morrison than other teams would by playing him at first base.
Slowinski also opined that this was likely a negotiating tactic by the Fish to inflate the value of Morrison to other teams. There are other available starting pitchers via trade, and a young starter like Gio Gonzalez might still be worth a look in return for Morrison; perhaps the Marlins are just "creating demand" for an already good player. Then again, a Morrison / Shields trade makes so much sense for both teams; both are trading players from surplus and acquiring players in areas of need. The deal is logical that it may be a recognition by the Marlins that this is the situation they want most. If so, I speculated that the teams could get a deal hammered down by December, and it would not surprise me if this happened.
What say you, fellow Fish Stripers? Do you approve of this "off limits" approach, and do you think the Marlins can make a deal for Shields? Would you be in favor of a deal?