Originally written on MarlinsBaseball.com  |  Last updated 10/15/13
The Marlins, other than occasional joys, provided just about as much excitement in…their 2013 campaign as they have done during their absence for the last two weeks. The Miami Marlins season has officially been done for about two weeks and, beyond the obvious, there is one thing that can’t be ignored about it. The Marlins, other than occasional joys, provided just about as much excitement in most of the first 161 games of their 2013 campaign as they have done during their absence for the last two weeks. That tends to be the case with most 100-loss teams, especially when that team can’t score runs. Finding a way to score runs is expected to be the focus of the Marlins offseason efforts – in particular at Third Base, Catcher, and possibly at First Base. As with every season, there will be opportunities via free agency or trade. The Marlins need to get the moves done and those moves need to be done correctly. The moves can’t be anything illustrating as much incompetence as last year’s offseason when, after the Marlins stated that they would get a Third Baseman that can protect Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup, the Marlins signed Placido Polanco (a table-setter type of player), who ended being the cleanup hitter on Opening Day. There should be no offseason move that even approaches the laughable ineptitude of that move. If the Marlins try to resolve the hitting by making moves at the three aforementioned positions, they have got to be moves that display credibility. Anything resembling last offseason’s signing of Polanco to protect Stanton would have one of many dire effects – among them being that the Marlins front office would leave no doubt about the incompetence label that they already have, and/or they would have insulted just about every remaining Marlins fan…once again. As for correct moves, the question would be what options will be available and can provide the Marlins with what they need. First Base At First Base, the Marlins currently have Logan Morrison. However, so far in Morrison’s career, he hasn’t established himself as an impact or cornerstone player that the Marlins would need at the position. Due to this, the Marlins are likely looking to move in another direction. While there are a few options that will be available via free agency or trade, the name that has surfaced with the Marlins is Cuban defector, Jose Dariel Abreu. The Cuban slugger has been touted as potentially being better than fellow countrymen, Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers. Rumors and reports are that the Marlins may be all in to sign Abreu, especially with the lingering memory of having failed to sign Cespedes. If Abreu is as good as advertised, the Marlins would have found a gem to place alongside Stanton in the middle of the Marlins lineup for years to come. If Abreu is as good as advertised, the Marlins would have found a gem to place alongside Stanton in the middle of the Marlins lineup for years to come. If the Marlins can’t sign Abreu, there are some others options to consider on the free agent market. Among them, switch-hitting power hitter Kendrys Morales would be an addition that could significantly help. The only question would be his price tag that very likely will include losing a draft pick, and whether he’s fully recovered from the homerun celebration mishap injury from a couple of seasons ago. Overall, he may be out of the Marlins price because of the draft compensation. However, if he could be had, a veteran power hitter such as Morales would bring the Marlins offense forward to a great degree. If he cannot be added, there are a couple of other options that could work well for a lesser price. Right-hand hitting Michael Morse, who could give a “hometown discount” of sorts, could be had, but there is no more of a guarantee of him helping the team any more than it already is with Logan Morrison. If he’s on his “A game”, he could provide the Marlins with the run production that Morrison has failed to do. There is also the fact that he isn’t a First baseman by trade, so will he be able to provide enough offense to ignore his defensive warts? Another option that can be available is left-handed hitting Adam Lind. There is a chance that his option will not be exercised by the Blue Jays. He would be a low-cost addition that can provide some power behind Stanton. He has had strong seasons and can be a solid left-handed presence in the lineup. It could even be scary for opponents what type of numbers he could post up if he’s getting pitched to more often, as teams try to avoid facing Stanton. Finally, there is a name to watch out for among potential non-tenders – left-handed hitting slugger, Ike Davis of the Mets. While he has shown to be a streaky, all-or-nothing type of hitter, if he’s available, he’d be an intriguing bat to have after Stanton when considering that he could also hit 30+ homeruns – the type of power in a teammate that Stanton hasn’t had the chance to play with since his rookie season in 2010; before Dan Uggla was traded in that following offseason. If Davis is available, the Marlins should join in what would be quite a few teams taking a look at him. If added and playing at peak levels, Davis could combine with Stanton to make a powerful 1-2 power punch for a few years. If an upgrade like any of the mention can’t be had, the Marlins would be very well served in sticking with Logan Morrison in 2014 and hope for him to finally live up to his potential. Catcher Even though the price tag for McCann expects to be steep…he is a player that the Marlins should go aggressively in on… For the Marlins, the quest for a catcher that can help the offense starts and ends with free agent Brian McCann. While there are quite a few other opportunities for a catcher, no other potentially available option can provide the Marlins with an offensive boost like McCann could. McCann is a catcher that would be a nice fit in the Marlins offense to protect Stanton, while he bats from either the third or cleanup spot. The bonus, as is the case with other potential additions, is that McCann can do it from the left side of the plate. Even though the price tag for McCann expects to be steep, and out of the range of the spending norm of the Marlins, he is a player that the Marlins should go aggressively in on, with the only deterrent being a bidding war that reaches beyond what is reasonable fair value. If McCann can’t be had by the Marlins, the best thing would be to add a veteran catcher that can platoon with and mentor Rob Brantly. Veterans like Geovany Soto, Kurt Suzuki (likely to be bought out), or a similar caliber of catcher could be a great addition to combine with Brantly. They could fill some of the void from the right side while also helping Brantly develop as the potential catcher of the future for the Marlins. Third Base For the Marlins, third base is definitely the position with the most need. Just about anything half decent could be an upgrade. On the free agent market, there won’t be much available. The Marlins certainly shouldn’t bring Polanco back. On the free agent market, the only third baseman that could offer anything in the form of hopeful potential for a year is Mark Reynolds. However, he’s proven to be an all-or-nothing type of power hitter. No matter how many homeruns he could hit, adding a slugger that will be striking out about 200 times and batting .230 or below isn’t going to help Marlins unless he has one of his seasons where he goes over the 35 homerun and 85 RBI marks. To fill this need, the Marlins will need to explore trades. On the potential trade market, there are two names that come to mind – Aramis Ramirez and Chase Headley. With Ramirez, the Marlins will be getting a proven power hitter that has been putting up big numbers for a number of years. He could solidify the position for 2014 while bridging the gap at the position to Zack Cox and Colin Moran. However, there are the downsides to Ramirez that start with a history of injuries and then the fact that he will turn 36 in June of next season – both of which can’t be ignored after Ramirez’s 2013 season. There is also that salary of his roaming around $16 million next season. Considering what Ramirez can give when he’s on the field during the course of a season versus what the Marlins had this season, this is a move to consider, especially since there is a good chance that the Brewers would be willing to pay some of the salary on his contract. He could essentially be the “glue” that brings the lineup together… If Ramirez can’t be had, there is also Chase Headley who is considered a prime prize. However, he may be an overvalued commodity when you consider that most of his value is based on once being a prospect with high upside, and also on his one big MLB season in 2012 when he hit 31 homeruns, led the National League in RBI, was an MVP candidate, won a Gold Glove, and won a Silver Slugger Award. If the Marlins are confident that Headley is indeed the player that he was in 2012, then it’s almost a no-brainer to try to acquire him. However, if they aren’t sure, it may be wise to stay away when considering the high price tag that the Padres are asking for in any potential trade for him. If he is indeed the 2012 version of Chase Headley, then he would be the ultimate addition for the Marlins due to his being a switch hitting run producer, who plays third base. He could be slotted in the third spot with Stanton moved back to the cleanup spot, and the team could run with it smoothly. He could essentially be the “glue” that brings the lineup together, especially if the Marlins do indeed add another bat or have a breakout season from the likes of Logan Morrison, Jake Marisnick, or Derek Dietrich. If no moves can be made for a third baseman, then the Marlins will have the challenge of filling the void internally. However, if that were simple or possible, it would have been done this past season; therefore an external addition is needed. And it is vital that the move isn’t as poor as the move done last offseason with Polanco (Yes, I keep saying it). Stanton needs help and protection, especially out of a third baseman. A nickel-and-dime effort isn’t going to get it done. The offseason starts kicking into gear after the World Series. Afterward, we’ll all see if the Marlins address their offensive issues with some credible additions and resolutions. If not, 2014 can be another season that offers very little excitement or hope in the midst of what expects to be another challenging season in the current rebuilding effort.
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