Trade away your waffling 3B convert? Check. Bolster up your farm system with more prospects? Check. Get a replacement 3B and add some power to the lineup? Mmmm, not quite.
The Marlins had a specific agenda heading into the Winter Meetings this week in Nashville and were able to pull of a couple of their main objectives. Reportedly, Yunel Escobar had a change of heart about playing 3B and this was the motive for the latest trade. The Marlins, in essence, were able to shed another $5M off the roster for the upcoming season and grabbed a rated prospect, Derek Dietrich, from the cross-state rival Rays. Dietrich projects to be a solid hitter at the big league level – probably not a star – but could be a solid addition to either 2B or 3B.
Maybe Escobar just felt he would find a better opportunity out there in exploring the market a bit and knows his value is as a SS and not a light-hitting 3B. So, this was probably a business move for Escobar, led by his agent, and the Marlins felt the need to make the move to get their house in order.
In Dietrich, the Marlins also add another rated prospect to their top 10, further enriching their farm system.
The Marlins weren’t done. They grabbed two more prospects in the Rule 5 draft’s MLB phase, which drew some positive feelings within the Marlins’ front office and even with Baseball America. Dodger prospect Alfredo Silverio who, as an OF, shows that he can hit and has excellent athletic ability. The problem is, he has had a problem staying healthy and was in a serious car accident that led to a concussion and Tommy John surgery. Yet, Silverio’s athletic ability and offense have many wondering if the Marlins were able to strike Rule 5 gold again like they did with Dan Uggla. With the recent rule changes to the Rule 5 draft, it has been less likely for teams to find an immediate star but it may be a situation where an injury to a talented prospect could yield results. Silverio, as most around baseball observe, has very good tools but a shaky approach at the plate.
The Marlins also were reportedly excited to grab Dominican pitcher, and Rays farm hand, Braulio Lara with their last pick in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 draft. He projects to be a possible bullpen arm with the ability to hit 98 on the radar gun.
The only concern left for the Marlins’ front office is to get their 3B situation resolved. The pickings on the free agent market are extremely slim. So slim that the Yankees, desperate for temporary relief from the ARod hip surgery, are willing to throw $12M in a one year deal for 34 year old, former Red Sawk, Kevin Youkilis. With his offensive skills dwindling and in severe question, it seems like the Yankees are willing to shed money on mediocre talent. Ian Stewart also was re-signed by the Cubs so it looks like marginal options remain unless the Marlins can find an in-house solution (perhaps Chris Coghlan can make a strong showing in Spring Training; there is also Kevin Kouzmanoff who was signed to a minor league deal earlier).
For the Marlins, with their critics pounding their chests these days, it is a far cry from a year ago when the Fish were the surprising darlings of the meetings. They were able to sign Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, Heath Bell and usher in a new era of Miami Marlins baseball in a big way. Even though the big spending spree netted negative results on the field – grabbing only 69 wins – it will remain to be seen if a “reboot” will get this team back on the path to winning baseball with yet another new manager.