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Marlins rumors: Miami considering Phil Hughes, Dioner Navarro

The Miami Marlins have two more interesting targets in free agency, as the team is looking at starter Phil Hughes and catcher Dioner Navarro as potential options.

Could the Marlins be the right place to soothe Phil Hughes's frustrations?
Could the Marlins be the right place to soothe Phil Hughes's frustrations?
Al Bello

We spent much of last week considering other trade options for the Miami Marlins, but the Fish may still be a little active in the free agency game as well. We already discussed the possibility of Juan Uribe joining Miami, but while the team may prefer a long-term solution at positions like catcher, the team may opt for a short-term plan like Uribe at other positions as well.

To that end, the team is looking at two players of interest according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Fish may consider starting pitcher Phil Hughes and catcher Dioner Navarro for potential signings.

### The Marlins have expressed interest in free agent catcher Dioner Navarro, 29, a switch-hitter who hit .300 with 13 homers and 34 RBI in 89 games for the Cubs last season. The Marlins would like to add an offensively-gifted catcher to complement defensively-skilled backup Jeff Mathis.

### The Marlins often like to pursue players who had one bad year after a good one, hoping to get them at a reasonable price. So it’s not surprising they called about Yankees free agent right-hander Phil Hughes, who went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 2013 after going 16-13 in 2012. The Marlins are considering adding an inexpensive veteran starting pitcher.

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The Marlins are looking primarily for an offensive boost for next season, and in that respect, Navarro makes sense coming off of a strong 2013 campaign. Navarro hit .300/.365/.492 (.374 wOBA) with 13 home runs for the Chicago Cubs last season. But it is easy to be impressed by those figures and forget that, before that year, he hit .245/.306/.357 in over 2200 plate appearances for his career. Just two seasons ago, Navarro was batting .193/.276/.324 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, so he is not far removed from being a terrible option behind the dish.

The Marlins will also have to consider his defensive missteps, as he is regarded as a poor defender but a decent thrower behind the plate. He also rates below average at pitch framing, meaning that Miami would be banking on getting a defensive liability behind the plate while chasing for a questionable bat.

Still, Navarro is likely better than Jeff Mathis and the other in-house options the Fish boast right now. If a two- or three-year deal with low yearly salary commitments is available, the Fish would surely be interested.

The Hughes option has some positive and negative sides to it. On the positive end, Hughes will be just 28 years old in 2014 and will be going from a pressure-packed and homer-friendly situation to a significantly better one in Miami. With the Marlins, Hughes would be under no pressure to succeed or deliver and could work on rebuilding his free agent value for a future season under little scrutiny. He would also benefit from going to a homer-suppressing ballpark in Marlins Park (89 park factor according to FanGraphs) from a bandbox in New York (110 park factor). Given that Hughes's primary concern is home runs (1.3 per nine innings career rate), that would be a huge benefit for him.

The downside is that the money spent on Hughes, depending on his desire to re-enter the free agent market earlier, is somewhat lost on a franchise with significant pitching depth. The Marlins boast a ton of depth, with multiple Major League-ready talents and minor league prospects with arrival dates in the next year or two. Signing Hughes to a one-year deal wastes little of that pitching potential, but having him take up a rotation spot beyond next year may eat into a younger player's playing time.

The Marlins can always opt to trade Hughes if he becomes successful, but chances are the Fish would look for a one-year contract for him. It would allow him to chase a multi-year deal at age 29 and would let Miami continue to utilize its pitching depth to build a cheap rotation.

What do you guys think of both potential signings? Good moves, bad moves? Let us know.

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