12/17/12 11:40 AM ET
Marlins may be interested in dealing for Bourjos
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Since trading Yunel Escobar to the Rays at the Winter Meetings, the Marlins have openly said they are in the market for a third baseman.
But their shopping list isn't exclusively limited to just one position. If the opportunity presented itself, Miami would pursue center field candidates. One name that has caught the club's attention for months, may now be on the market.
The recent signing of Josh Hamilton with the Angels has created a surplus of outfielders in Los Angeles.
A player who may end up being on the move is Peter Bourjos, a 25-year-old who saw his playing time reduced last year.
Miami has long had its eye on Bourjos.
Before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins were exploring outfield options, and Bourjos' name popped up. At the time, the Angels' asking price was high, and they showed little interest in moving the speedy center fielder.
The landscape in Los Angeles has changed with the arrival of Hamilton and the emergence of Mike Trout. Suddenly, Bourjos could be expendable.
"Obviously, this game's a business, and you know that going into it that you can eventually be traded," Bourjos told MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez last Thursday. "If you have an opportunity, from a management standpoint, to sign Josh Hamilton, I think you do it. And then, wherever the pieces fall with me or whatever they do, you handle that aspect."
The Angels are looking for an established starting pitcher. Miami's Ricky Nolasco is set to make $11.5 million in the final year of his contract.
But the chances of the Marlins trading Nolasco before the start of Spring Training are slim. Still, there is growing speculation that the right-hander could be on the move close to the July Trade Deadline if Miami is not in contention.
For Bourjos, the Marlins may not have to part with Nolasco. The team might be able to put together a package of prospects. From an organizational standpoint, there is more Minor League pitching depth through recent trades and First-Year Player Draft picks.
So there are more pieces now than in recent years to make moves that could immediately help the big league club.
If the Marlins stand pat, they would go into Spring Training with Justin Ruggiano as the frontrunner to play center field. Gorkys Hernandez and Bryan Petersen also will be in the mix.
Hernandez, obtained from the Pirates in July for Gaby Sanchez, is out of options, so he will have to either make the Opening Day roster or risk being lost to another team. A Venezuelan native, Hernandez is enjoying a strong season of Winter Ball. In 50 games, he's batting .346, scored 36 runs while adding 12 stolen bases.
After finishing 69-93 in 2012, the Marlins have dramatically turned over their roster. In the process, they've scaled down their payroll from about $100 million to roughly $40 million. The team is planning on reinvesting back into its payroll the $5 million that would have gone to Escobar, if he wasn't traded.
Working with a tighter budget, the club is surveying the market for bargains.
In the past, its had success signing players like Jorge Cantu and Greg Dobbs to Minor League deals. Both paid off and became solid contributors.
Miami is hoping to cash in on a few more under-the-radar signings.
In December, the club has already made some low-profile Minor League free agent pickups.
On Dec. 3, it signed outfielder Jordan Brown, who had 26 games of big league experience with the Indians in 2010.
And on Dec. 10, the Marlins officially signed free agent pitchers Amaury Rivas and Jonathan Albaladejo.
The 26-year-old Rivas threw 67 innings of relief for Milwaukee's Triple-A Nashville affiliate last year. Albaladejo, 30, is a 6-foot-5 right-hander who appeared in 10 games with the Yankees in 2010.
Three weeks ago, lefty Zach Phillips came to terms on a Minor League deal. Phillips picked up six innings of relief with the Orioles last year.
Miami's search for a third baseman remains ongoing.
In recent weeks, the team has made some offers, but has yet to sign a free agent. Brandon Inge and Ryan Raburn have received consideration.