The Miami Marlins came out of last week's GM meetings with considerable talks made but no moves imminent. Miami felt they had made progress in discussions but had not yet found a deal for the offense that they direly need. Most fans assume the Fish will use their significant pitching depth to acquire young position players under cost control.
However, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, it seems the most discussed name in the GM meetings from the Marlins was actually first baseman Logan Morrison.
Sources tell me and @jonmorosi that #Marlins are drawing significant trade interest in Logan Morrison. No deal close, Marlins listening…— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 15, 2013
Morrison, after Stanton, was most asked about #Marlins player at GM meetings. Teams looking for power, 1B a position of increasing scarcity.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 15, 2013
The Marlins made it clear Giancarlo Stanton was out of consideration, but they apparently found interest in Morrison, who is coming off of a down season in which he hit just .242/.333/.375 (.312 wOBA) with poor defensive play. It is surprising that Miami is so actively discussing Morrison, since the Fish have no options beyond Morrison at first base. The Major League roster only has Greg Dobbs, who is no one's idea of a starting-caliber player (even Miami's), and the minor league system only has Mark Canha, who just finished a succesful but not overwhelming Double-A season.
Of course, the Marlins have been connected in talks for Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo, who could be the ready replacement for Morrison and the sort of power hitter that the team wants this offseason. If the Marlins secure a trade for Trumbo, they can freely use him as the replacement for Morrison and send the former top prospect packing to rebuild his value in another location.
The only concern then would be that the Fish would be selling low on Morrison, and that takers would not be abundant. Some teams, such as the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners, legitimately could use a first baseman, but how many of them feel that a player like Morrison would be an upgrade for them? Morrison has already complained about the effect of Marlins Park on his game, making a pitcher's park not a great fit. The Rangers would be an interesting candidate for a trade partner, but how much could the Marlins expect back in return for a former prospect who has hit just ,249/.337/.427 (.334 wOBA) for his career?
Trading Morrison may be a fruitless endeavor in terms of garnering value, much like trading Gaby Sanchez was in 2012. Morrison would be dealt at his lowest value, but at the same time, Miami would be handcuffed with his increasing arbitration salary in the coming years. We have discussed the issue before, and the failed 2013 season did not help his stock. If the Marlins do decide to trade him, they may have to settle for a very small return just to be rid of his expected $1.7 million salary this season.
In an ideal world, Morrison would finally get a healthy season and a chance to prove his merit at the plate and at first base, but it is possible that version of Morrison no longer exists. If the Fish can acquire an improvement like Trumbo, they should be quick to dump Morrison on a team willing to give him a second chance. But without a ready replacement, the Marlins cannot send Morrison away.