The Marlins announced yesterday the signing of third basemen Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal, helping to fill a gaping organizational void at third base in the wake of the Hanley Ramirez and Matt Dominguez trades. The Marlins have also acquired relief pitcher Jordan Smith. Both players have received invitations to Spring Training, where they will compete for a roster position.
Originally drafted in the sixth round by the Cleveland Indians, Kouzmanoff was traded to San Diego, where he became the everyday third basemen after a breakout .275/.329/.457 season in 2007. He was never able to duplicate his early success, but continued to start for the Padres and later the A's. After a dismal .221/.262/.353 performance in 2011, he was traded again - this time to Colorado, where he hit .255/.315/.398. Kouzmanoff signed a minor league deal with Kansas City the next year, but failed to make the major league team. He also failed to impress in the minors, hitting .276/.309/.382. The 31-year-old's career major league slash line currently stands at .255/.300/.420.
Kouzmanoff holds some potential, but he hasn't had a productive season in almost four years. I suspect the best case scenario is that he contributes as a decent bench player, but the Marlins will have to look elsewhere for a starting third basemen. Unfortunately, there are not an abundance of quality options on the free agent market, and the Marlins desperately lack trade chips.
Also a sixth round draft pick, reliever Jordan Smith came up through the Cincinnati Reds system. The 6-foot-4 right-hander posted a respectable 3.86 ERA across 42 innings pitched in 2010, but his performance declined sharply in 2011. His ERA jumped to 7.20, largely the result of an increased walk rate and a fluky .420 BABIP. The 26-year-old was demoted to Triple-A in 2012, but didn't show any obvious progress, putting up a 4.76 ERA.
Smith's awful career statistics (-0.4 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement and 4.96 Fielding Independent Pitching) don't indicate a high likelihood of future success. Unless he shows dramatic improvement during Spring Training, I doubt he will make the big league club.
Smith and Kouzmanoff are both players whose careers began with a degree of promise, but have since faltered along the way. They represent minor acquisitions for the Marlins, but with a little luck, so-called "dumpster diving" can pay dividends.