MIAMI -- When the Marlins traded Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs in December, they received versatile left-handed-hitting outfielder Brian Bogusevic in return.
What the move also did was create an opening for a right-handed-hitting outfielder to come off the bench. The Marlins are hoping to fill that void before Spring Training gets underway on Feb. 16.
Although Miami's roster is close to being set, the club still feels it has some unfinished business. The Marlins are exploring available options, and according to a source, they have interest in veteran Vernon Wells.
Wells, 35, was released by the Yankees earlier this month, and he has become a tempting free agent for Miami. If the Marlins sign Wells, his role would be a backup in the outfield who can make spot starts and pinch-hit.
With New York last season, Wells appeared in 130 games and batted .233 with 11 home runs and 50 RBIs. He is a career .270 hitter with 270 home runs and 958 RBIs.
Wells would be a cost-effective choice for Miami, because the Yanks and Angels are on the hook for the remaining $21 million on the seven-year, $126 million contract he initially signed while with the Blue Jays.
The Marlins feel their outfield is an area of strength with Giancarlo Stanton in right field and Christian Yelich in left. The two are core players and building blocks.
But center field has some uncertainty. Marcell Ozuna is the front-runner to win the starting job, and Jake Marisnick also is in the mix. The two gained big league experience in 2013, but each is coming off surgery.
Ozuna missed the second half of last year due to left thumb surgery, and Marisnick had a torn meniscus in his left knee repaired the day after the season ended. Both will be ready to go at the start of Spring Training, but the club will have to see how they respond once drills begin.
Ozuna already is game tested, having played winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and the thumb wasn't an issue. Marisnick has been doing his running and conditioning programs this month, and he anticipates no problems once Spring Training gets going.
A veteran like Wells would provide insurance in center field. Bogusevic, expected to make the club, is considered more of a defensive candidate who can play all three spots.
The search continues for a right-handed-hitting outfielder with power. Ruggiano held that role last year, and he was second on the club in home runs (18) and RBIs (50).
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.