12/06/12 11:40 AM ET
Marlins look to tweak roster as they exit Nashville
Third base remains club's top priority in wake of Escobar trade with the Rays
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Mission No. 1 for Miami entering the Winter Meetings was trading Yunel Escobar, who balked at switching from shortstop to third base.
Rather than risk having a disgruntled infielder, the Marlins on Tuesday night made their major move during their stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Escobar was dealt to the Rays for infield prospect Derek Dietrich.
The Marlins exit the Winter Meetings in search of a third baseman. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest makes it clear there is work to be done with the roster before the team is satisfied with what it has heading in Spring Training.
The Marlins accommodated Escobar's wishes by moving him to a team in need of a shortstop. On Nov. 19, the Marlins acquired Escobar from the Blue Jays as part of a 12-player blockbuster deal.
Initially, Miami was planning on moving Escobar to third base because Adeiny Hechavarria is taking over at shortstop. Escobar told the organization he was fine with the switch, but he had a change of heart, and expressed that to the club.
"We came to the meetings with the intention of moving Yunel," Beinfest said. "Things moved quickly. There were more than two teams involved, and within the last 12 hours, there were some very serious conversations with some of those teams. Ultimately, it ended up being Tampa Bay."
Once Escobar was moved, the Marlins' attention moved quickly towards finding a replacement at third base. The club plans on using the $5 million that was allocated for Escobar on other players.
"We're shopping right now with Yunel's money," Beinfest said.
Modestly-priced free-agent third-base options include Ryan Raburn, Ian Stewart, Matt Downs and Jack Hannahan. Candidates who are already on the roster include Greg Dobbs, Zack Cox and non-roster invitee Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Dobbs is the team's primary pinch-hit option, and Miami would prefer to keep him in a bench role.
The Marlins haven't ruled out giving Chris Coghlan, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, a look at third base. Coghlan was an infielder for much of his Minor League career before being switched to left field in his rookie season. He's also played center field.
More than his glove, Coghlan's value is with his bat. But since his first year in the big leagues, he's struggled at the plate.
The Winter Meetings also shed some light on what new manager Mike Redmond is thinking regarding the batting order. Giancarlo Stanton is projected to bat cleanup. Logan Morrison, who is recovering from right knee surgery, is likely to bat fifth.
Morrison on Tuesday had a follow-up visit with Dr. Richard Steadman, who performed the surgery in Colorado, and he was cleared to increase his rehab progression. The expectation is that Morrison will be ready for Opening Day.
Some controversy also arose during the Meetings. It was reported that Stanton remains unhappy over the direction the club is taking.
A number of teams inquired to see if the Marlins would trade their 23-year-old slugger. The Yankees were one of them. But they were told Stanton is not available.
There also were some rumblings out of Ricky Nolasco's camp. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, made it known his client wants to be traded. The team's highest-paid player at $11.5 million, Nolasco will be a free agent in 2014.
Miami isn't actively shopping Nolasco.
Rule 5 Draft activity: Miami was busy on the final day of the Meetings, making two Rule 5 selections at the Major League phase, and one in the Triple-A Phase. With the sixth pick in the Major League Phase, the Marlins selected outfielder Alfredo Silverio off the Dodgers' Triple-A roster. And with the last pick of any team in the Major League Phase, lefty Braulio Lara was taken from Tampa Bay's Triple-A squad.
In the Triple-A phase, lefty Tyler Kehrer was picked off the Angels' Double-A squad.
Goals accomplished: Moving Escobar was the first order of business the Marlins had entering the Winter Meetings. They were able to do so, as well as meet with the agents of free agent third basemen.
Unfinished business: The Escobar trade created an opening at third base, which likely will be filled by a low-cost free agent. The team also is in the market for a power bat. But with its budget restraints, Miami may wind up finding situational players with some pop.
Team's bottom line: "When Yunel had this change of heart and was not 100 percent committed to playing third base, it made us pause." -- Beinfest