The Miami Marlins made headlines last December by signing Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Heath Bell at the annual Winter Meetings. With the meetings set to begin on Monday, the Marlins have several decisions to make as they return to the venue where they traded away a young Miguel Cabrera several years ago.
President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest recently said that the team would love to add a power hitter to complement Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup. Miami's current depth chart is once again full of youthful and mostly inexperienced players. Signing a veteran power hitter could help the team enormously.
Though Justin Ruggiano had a great rookie season, the Marlins have also made it clear that they are looking for a center fielder. The team has already signed Juan Pierre, adding outfield depth and speed to the lineup. Pierre likely won't be getting the majority of the playing time, however.
Michael Morse of the Washington Nationals is a name to watch. After trading for Denard Span last week, the Nationals have a projected outfield of Werth, Span, and Bryce Harper, leaving Morse as the odd man out. Morse can play first base, though Washington is hoping to resign Adam LaRoche.
Morse is a South Florida product, and could help the Marlins at multiple positions. If the Marlins want Logan Morrison at first base, Morse can play left field. Miami could leave Morrison in left and put Morse at first base, too.
Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that the Nationals were shopping Morse, and it likely wouldn't take a package full of prospects to acquire him. At the very least, Miami should give General Manager Mike Rizzo a call on Morse.
Aside from first base and a few outfield spots, the Marlins don't have many holes to fill. The team seems satisfied with Steve Cishek as the closer. Miami may look to add a veteran starting pitcher, but based on the recent trade with Toronto, it is hard to see Miami signing more than two or three free agents.
The Winter Meetings represent the beginning of the true off-season action. It remains to be seen how the Marlins will improve their squad after a sub-par 2012 and a fire sale trade with the Blue Jays.
-Though they earned a reputation for trading superstar players in Nashville after dealing Miguel Cabrera several years ago, the Marlins have said that they will not be trading Giancarlo Stanton this week. "Our plans for him in '13 are to be our right fielder and to be in the middle of our lineup," said Beinfest, adding that he had not spoken with Stanton since the Blue Jays trade. "It was an emotional time so I'm kind of taking everything with a grain of salt. I can't speak for Giancarlo's feelings because those are his feelings, but these things sometimes take a little time to settle down and see clearer, and that's kind of what we're going through right now."
-The Marlins recently released their 2013 Spring Training schedule. The Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Mets, Braves, and Tigers will all be making trips to Roger Dean Stadium. Miami pitchers and catchers will report on February 11, and will pay their first Grapefruit League game against the Cardinals on February 23.
-Miami tendered right hander Ryan Webb a contract on Thursday. Webb was arbitration eligible for the first time. He made the league minimum of $480,000 last season. Webb is a candidate to setup to serve as a setup man.
-On Friday afternoon, Miami claimed outfielder/first baseman Joe Mahoney off waivers from Baltimore. Mahoney went hitless in four at-bats with the Orioles. He batted .265 with 10 home runs and 56 RBIs at Triple-A.
-Larry Beinfest has made it clear that he wants to sign a power hitter, if possible, at the Winter Meetings. "We'd love to add some power to the lineup, if possible," Beinfest said.
-Miami's recent trade with the Blue Jays should help replenish a thin farm system. "This deal, in general, it positions you to do one of two things -- which is to have this talent come and play for us in the Major Leagues, or to use this talent to get other pieces that we need to play in the Major Leagues," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "To have as big a stable as possible down there matters to your overall success. We had players. We have more now."
-Justin Ruggiano's snarky response to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter went viral last week. "I came out of nowhere when I was 30 years old and it seems like people are already forgetting what I did last year," Ruggiano said in a phone interview." Personally, I'd like to be given that opportunity to play out there every day."
-A year ago in Dallas, the Miami Marlins made headlines through their aggressive acquisition of three key free agents. This year in Nashville, the Marlins may be the joke of Major League Baseball after trading away those key players several weeks ago.
Around The League
-The Mets' main priority at the Winter Meetings will be to extend the contract of R.A. Dickey, according to a report. Dickey is coming off a career year with New York.
-Despite rumors suggesting otherwise, first baseman Adam LaRoche is hoping to resign with the Washington Nationals. "I've made it as clear as I can that I want to come back," LaRoche said. "On the other hand, I've got two kids and a wife to worry about, too, so I can't do something stupid. I'm not looking to set a record deal by any means. Let's get something fair and let's go. I want to finish up in D.C., and then when I'm done there, I'll be done."
-Though he made headlines by signing free agent B.J. Upton last week, Atlanta general manager Frank Wren is not content, as he still seeks a leadoff hitter.
-Both the Phillies and Giants are pursuing outfielder Angel Pagan. Pagan batted .288 last season and stole 29 bases for the Giants.
At Fish Stripes
-Here is a piece comparing the 2012 fire sale to that of 2005.
-The Marlins are reportedly looking for a center fielder.
-Does Owner Jeffery Loria have a moral obligation to the Marlins fan base? Check out the Fish Bites take here.
-Why can't the Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton? Find out here.
-Every team has or had a player that isn't well respected by the league and/or fans. Find out who that is for the Marlins here.
-Miami prospect Arquimedes Caminero has been dominant in the Dominican Winter League.