All of baseball comes together in San Diego on Monday for the start of the 2014 Winter Meetings, which run through Thursday. Miami has already accomplished its primary goal by extending Giancarlo Stanton before the start of the meetings, but still wants to improve the roster in several areas. Here are some things to watch during the upcoming week:
Miami likely won't be pursuing Jon Lester or some of the other bigger name starting pitchers that are on the market, but is looking to add a front of the rotation arm until Jose Fernandez is set to return next summer. The Marlins have been rumored to be interested in David Price, Rick Porcello, and free agent James Shields, however the cost of any of the three, whether in a trade or through free agency, will likely be too high. Miami is predicted to have a payroll around $65 million heading into 2015.
Jake Peavy, who went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA with the Giants last season after a rough start in Boston, could be a name to watch.
Names such as Jason Hammel, Justin Masterson, or Brandon Morrow might be the most realistic for the Marlins. The club is confident in Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, Nathan Eovaldi, and Tom Koehler, and will look for a controllable arm to fill a rotation spot. With a significant amount of pitching depth, Miami could leave the meetings without adding a starter, but the organization appears adamant it is seeking a veteran upgrade.
Miami has made it clear it is prepared to move on from Garrett Jones at first base after an inconsistent offensive year in 2014, and as a result has been searching for possible replacements. The Marlins made Adam LaRoche a two-year, $20 million offer that he ultimately turned down, and the team has been considering other options since.
Trading for a first baseman is likely more realistic for the Marlins considering the number of established free agents on the market. Michael Morse could be tempting for the Marlins since he is a South Florida product and can provide power behind Stanton in the lineup, and Mark Reynolds and Chase Headley are among the other free agent possibilities. If the club is open to a trade, Brandon Moss, Evan Gattis, and Allen Craig are consistent options.
The Marlins would prefer to keep Casey McGehee at third base, but if they aren't fond of the first baseman available, could have McGehee play first base and pursue another corner infielder. If that were the case, a name to watch could be Will Middlebrooks, who the team was impressed with last offseason before signing McGehee.
Ultimately, in a first baseman, the Marlins want a power hitter who can protect Stanton in the lineup. Miami has not been satisfied with the production of Jones, Logan Morrison, or Gaby Sanchez in the past.
Although the Marlins have not publicly said they are looking for a second baseman, the club could look into available infielders. Derek Dietrich has struggled defensively in his brief major league career, and Enrique Hernandez may better be suited as a utility infielder. Donovan Solano is another internal option, though there may be a second baseman that is more consistent than Solano.
Asdrubal Cabrera might be too expensive, but bringing Emilio Bonifacio back to Miami might be realistic. Bonifacio could hit at the top of the lineup, and shouldn't ask for too much this offseason. Howie Kendrick most likely isn't an option considering the Marlins are on the list of teams he can block a trade to.
Miami doesn't want to stop after extending Stanton. The organization has reportedly made offers to Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Jose Fernandez, and President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill was confident extension talks would progress in San Diego.
Fernandez is represented by Scott Boras and may not be inclined to consider the deal, however Ozuna, Yelich, and Adeiny Hechavarria could have new contracts by the end of the week.
The Marlins will likely, at the very least, have discussions with other clubs about trade possibilities at the meetings, and unlike in the past, would not hesitate to trade a top prospect. Based on the development of Justin Nicolino, the Marlins said earlier this offseason they would include top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney in the right deal. Miami already dealt starter Brian Flynn this offseason, and was not hesitant to send Kyle Jensen to Los Angeles.
From the viewpoint of other squads, Christian Yelich, Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, and Steve Cishek could draw a lot of interest.
Stay tuned to Fish Stripes for all things Marlins during the Winter Meetings!