Marlins turning attention to further moves
Finding power bat remains on to-do list, as does addressing overstocked rotation
MIAMI -- At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins came away with a second baseman, a couple of starters and plenty of answers about how the roster will shape up heading into Spring Training.
Over four days in San Diego, the front office covered a lot of ground and enriched their chances to challenge in the National League East. But more work still needs to be done, like finding a power bat while sorting out the rotation.
"I think we checked off a lot of boxes in terms of what we wanted to accomplish," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We felt like for us to take that next step, we needed to improve. And we wanted to add a starter. We wanted to add a bat, an upgraded bat, which we haven't done yet. But we were able to improve our lineup with the addition of Dee Gordon and inject some speed."
Gordon, the All-Star second baseman, is heading to the Marlins as part of a seven-player deal with the Dodgers.
The Marlins capped their stay in Southern California by making two more trades on Thursday. Right-hander Mat Latos was acquired from the Reds. A lower-profile move brought in right-hander Andre Rienzo, the only Brazilian-born player ever to reach the Majors.
The additions and subtractions have reshaped the roster, and created some questions. Here's five things to watch for moving forward.
A strong push was made for Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, but the asking price was too high. Even though talks fizzled in San Diego, there is a chance they could rekindle before the end of the month. Free agent Michael Morse is a definite possibility, and so is Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez. It's highly doubtful the D-backs will trade Mark Trumbo.
An area of need filled up quickly in 24 hours in San Diego. Two separate deals landed Latos and Dan Haren. Now, there is the question of whether Haren will join the club or retire to be with his family on the West Coast. If Haren reports, Miami will have Latos, Haren, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler and Brad Hand competing for five spots. And, oh by the way, Jose Fernandez, should be recovered from his Tommy John surgery to join the group around the All-Star break. The logjam will make it extremely difficult for prospect Justin Nicolino, a standout at Double-A Jacksonville, to open the season with the club. Having too many isn't necessarily a bad thing. A year ago, the Marlins used 13 different starters.
Haren's decision may impact Eovaldi's future. The team may be less willing to trade a power arm without the assurance of a proven veteran to fill the void. Hand is in an interesting spot because he is out of options, so he has to make the team. Hand can be used out of the bullpen, but he is more comfortable starting. He's also the lone lefty starting candidate now that Andrew Heaney's been traded. If a power-hitting first baseman is added, first baseman Garrett Jones will be seriously shopped.
After what transpired in San Diego, it's pretty much a given that Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn will be back. Both are second-year arbitration-eligible and were candidates to be shopped at the Winter Meetings. They weren't. Aaron Crow's role seems more defined. Acquired from the Royals in late November, Crow is expected to be stretched out as if he could start. But now, long relief is likely.
Rule 5 pickup
Don't discount the final transaction the Marlins made at the Winter Meetings. At Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, they selected Andrew McKirahan from the Cubs in the Major League phase. This is an interesting move to watch. It was prompted because Dan Jennings was dealt to the White Sox for Rienzo, a right-hander.
Miami opted to trade Jennings now because he is out of options, so if he didn't make the roster out of Spring Training, he was a candidate to be designated for assignment. Rienzo has one option remaining.
Conditions of being a Rule 5 pick stipulate that McKirahan has to make the Opening Day roster or he will be offered back to the Cubs. The 24-year-old could be a sleeper to watch in Spring Training.