Miami went into the Winter Meetings looking to add a starting pitcher and a first baseman. And perhaps that is what makes Wednesday's trade with the Dodgers that sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami notable. Haren could prove to be the veteran starter the Marlins need, however rarely this offseason have the Marlins been linked to a second baseman.
The Marlins, under the leadership of General Manager Dan Jennings, wanted to upgrade several parts of the roster this offseason. Donovan Solano, Derek Dietrich, and Enrique Hernandez were all expected to compete for the second base job in 2015, though now the Marlins indeed upgraded and do not need to concern themselves with it. Gordon's .289/.326/.378 batting line last season likely made him attractive, and after stealing 64 bases in 2014, he brings speed to the lineup. Gordon will likely lead off, and considering the Marlins have yet to find a consistent leadoff option, that is a plus. A lineup that features Gordon, Christian Yelich, and Giancarlo Stanton should be able to set the table for the middle of the order bats. Gordon can also play shortstop, which gives Miami flexibility with regard to Adeiny Hechavarria.
When the Marlins were initially linked to Gordon, the other players involved in the deal were initially unknown. Not once this offseason have the Marlins been rumored to be interested in Haren, which makes sense. The club is seeking a controllable starting arm with experience to fill a hole until Jose Fernandez gets healthy next summer. Haren, although he does have a significant amount of experience, posted a 4.02 ERA and 4.09 FIP in 186.0 innings with Los Angeles last season. He is durable and consistent, but he has threatened to retire if he was traded away from California, so Miami might not even have a shot. Unless Haren is flipped to another team, the deal doesn't make a ton of sense. Could Haren post numbers better than one of Brad Hand/Justin Nicolino/Aaron Crow?
The organization made it clear that it was open to dealing top prospects, which is something new and probably a change for the better. Andrew Heaney struggled in his first major league stint, posting a 5.83 ERA and 5.45 FIP in 29.1 major league innings. It is hard to fault the Marlins for dealing their top pitching prospect, considering they want to win now. The team is also more confident in the development of Justin Nicolino, and with the amount of pitching depth Miami has, losing Heaney is not too notable.
Although Gordon and Haren could become two consistent contributors, the Marlins likely overpaid, especially if Haren does not put a Marlins uniform on in 2015. Chris Hatcher is a solid middle relief option, although the Marlins did add Crow to use in a similar role. Enrique Hernandez was expected to compete for a starting spot, and Austin Barnes was developing in Double-A, though Miami does have outfield depth. Essentially, the Dodgers took Miami's best prospect and several other average major league ready prospects in exchange for Gordon and a pitcher who is owed $10 million in 2015.
Despite the fact that they didn't publicly discuss it, the Marlins were right for thinking they needed to upgrade at second base. Gordon has a career .314 on-base percentage, but was among the better middle infielders available. Haren, on the contrary, if he plays for Miami in 2015, will be durable and consistent, but arguably might not be an upgrade. The Marlins might look to trade Haren before the Winter Meetings are over.
Miami did give up a lot for a second baseman, which may be premature considering it wasn't atop the club's list of needs. Finding a first baseman and controllable arm should have been the priority. Gordon should prove to be a nice fit, but by acquiring him the Marlins lost several other key pieces that could have been used in other deals.