Marlins active at Meetings, but still have work to do
Club makes five significant moves, finding a third baseman remains top priority
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- From the moment the Marlins arrived at the Winter Meetings, they made it clear they were not on vacation at Disney World.
The mission was to be active, make changes and continue to remold a squad that endured 100 losses in 2013.
Miami proved to be among the most active teams at the Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. The Marlins announced a free-agent signing and a trade, and there is another deal that has yet to be made official.
At the start of the Meetings, the Marlins finalized a two-year contract with free-agent first baseman Garrett Jones, and literally minutes before it was time to go home on Thursday, they announced a trade that sent outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs for outfielder Brian Bogusevic.
In between, the Marlins reached an agreement on a trade that will send first baseman Logan Morrison to the Mariners for reliever Carter Capps. That deal is expected to be made official in the next couple of days.
Miami's makeover is a process, and there remains more work ahead, like finding a third baseman.
"Our expectation was to get everything done," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "So we still have work to do. Are we pleased that we were able to do some of the things we were able to do? Definitely. But we still need to do more."
Heading into the Winter Meetings, third base was regarded as the biggest area to address in hopes of giving manager Mike Redmond as much talent as possible. But the Morrison deal ended up consuming plenty of the organization's time.
The search continues, but the Marlins also have a better idea of what their options are before Spring Training begins in mid February.
"I think we've done a lot to reshape our roster and prepare us for 2014," Hill said. "Are we finished? No, but we've changed the look of this roster from 2013, and added pieces we think will help us win more games in 2014."
Deals done: Ruggiano was traded to the Cubs for Bogusevic, and Jones signed a two-year, $7.75 million contract, solidifying first base with a left-handed bat with proven power. The signing made Morrison, the incumbent at first, expendable.
For several days, the Marlins entertained numerous offers and trade scenarios for Morrison. All the talks led to the club coming to terms on a deal that sent Morrison to the Mariners for Capps, a hard-throwing right-hander.
The Bogusevic trade came together after ongoing discussions with the Cubs about other possibilities.
Rule 5 Draft activity: With their 40-man roster full, the Marlins were not eligible to participate in the Major League phase. The club didn't have a pick, nor did the organization lose any players in that phase. In the Triple-A phase, Miami was busy, selecting first baseman Justin Bour off the Cubs' Double-A Tennessee roster. Also taken in the Triple-A phase were outfielder Brady Shoemaker off the White Sox's Double-A Birmingham roster and third baseman Tony Thompson off Oakland's Double-A Midland roster. The Marlins did lose outfielder Kevin Mattison to the Brewers in the Triple-A phase. In the Double-A phase, Miami selected right-hander Kelvin Castro off the Yankees' Class A Charleston roster.
Goals accomplished: Days before the Winter Meetings, the club started scratching items off its list of goals. It started last Friday with the announcements of free-agent signings Jarrod Saltalamacchia (catcher) and Rafael Furcal (second baseman). The momentum carried over into the Winter Meetings. The signing of Jones and the trades for Capps and Bogusevic gives Miami five significant moves in the span of a week.
Now settled are first base, second base, catcher, outfield depth and at least one bullpen spot.
Unfinished business: For all the activity of late, the one position the club most coveted when it arrived in Lake Buena Vista remains unresolved. Third base is the highest priority, and it continues to be so. Not that the matter promises to be unsettled much longer. The Marlins essentially are weighing whether to trade one of their surplus pitchers for a controllable service time position player who can handle third base until prospect Colin Moran is ready.
The team is not leaning toward trading for a stopgap. Miami would do that through free agency.
Adding a veteran reliever to provide experience to a young bullpen also is an objective.
Team's bottom line: "The goal is to give Red the most versatile 25 guys that we can. This is why you build and try to create depth. As long as we have needs at the Major League level, we will work and try to fill those needs." -- Hill