12/20/2013 11:06 A.M. ET
Miami fills offensive needs without trading young arms
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Capping a two-week shopping spree, the Marlins were able to address all their major needs without parting with any of their surplus starting pitching.
In that regard, it's been a successful month for Miami.
The front office was open to trading starting pitching if something made sense. But as things developed, that was easier said than done. When it came time to actually discuss potential trades, nothing tempted the Marlins to move any of their young arms.
"There's been numerous discussions throughout, going all the way back to the GM Meetings and through the Winter Meetings, lots of people were interested in our young pitching and some opportunities to potentially acquire third base candidates using that pitching," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
Through the Draft, and trades, the Marlins put themselves in an enviable spot of having 11 starters at the Double-A level or above, who potentially can contribute in 2014.
Considering their budget limitations, the depth will be essential to moving the organization forward over the next few seasons.
Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler are frontrunners to be the starting five in 2014. But there is open competition for the fourth and fifth spots. In the mix are Brian Flynn, Brad Hand, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley and Andrew Heaney. Anthony DeSclafani is another right-hander who also is getting closer to being ready.
Heaney, the ninth overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, is regarded as a future star. The lefty turned heads in the Arizona Fall League, and he has the potential to fit in nicely at the top of the rotation. It's just a matter of when Heaney will be ready. An estimated arrival date could be midseason. Spring Training may help decide.
Free agent signings allowed the Marlins to fill in four position spots -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (catcher), Garrett Jones (first base), Rafael Furcal (second base) and Casey McGehee (third base).
Heading into the offseason, the Marlins felt they would have to deal at least one young starter to upgrade the offense. That hasn't been so.
Because of its free agent pickups, the organization completed all its major moves before the Christmas Break.
McGehee, who signed on Wednesday, was the final piece to the position-player puzzle.
"I think in the end, when we got an opportunity to really dig in on who Casey McGehee was as a player and a person, we felt it made sense for us to go in that direction," Hill said.
The Marlins did make two significant trades, but neither involved letting a pitcher go.
During the Winter Meetings, Miami agreed to a deal that sent Logan Morrison to Seattle for reliever Carter Capps. To close out the meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Justin Ruggiano was moved to the Cubs for Brian Bogusevic.
After a slow November, the Marlins were among the more aggressive teams in December.
They are basically done in terms of making another major move before Spring Training, Hill says.
"You never say never in this game, but where we're at right now, unless it's something major that's a major upgrade to this roster and to this team, I don't see any significant changes going on with any of our inventory," Hill said.
If possible, the team would like to add a veteran reliever to fill the role vacated when Chad Qualls signed with the Astros. Those adds could likely be veterans willing to sign Minor League deals with Spring Training invites.
All offseason, Miami's top priority has been to improve an offense that ranked last in the Majors in runs scored, home runs and batting average.
"All the way back to our initial planning meeting when I got with our baseball operations people, we just looked at areas where we needed to improve," Hill said. "You look at our roster as it ended with the 2013 season. It was obvious through discussions we wanted to upgrade third base and we wanted to upgrade behind the plate.
"We wanted to add more speed into the lineup and get more production offensively. Once we met and identified those areas of need, it was a matter of trying to execute our plan. Improving our offense was always an objective since we started. We still have some work to do, but we're very comfortable with the progress we've made this offseason."