Miami Marlins: Offseason trades, grades and needs

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Garrett Jones becomes the new first baseman for the Miami Marlins. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

The Miami Marlins as few would have guessed, have been rather busy this offseason. Miami has brought in a number of veterans who have been around winning cultures to try to help the Marlins turnaround from what was a National League worst record of 62-100 in 2013.

Despite losing 100 games, most saw the Fish as overachieving a year ago and Miami will look to have more success on the field in 2014. Looking back on a moderately busy offseason for Miami, here is what the Marlins have done thus far:

Signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year deal
The Miami Marlins signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who won a World Series a season ago with the Boston Red Sox. Saltalamacchia is coming off of a career-year and at 28 years old, still has a lot of baseball left.
What he brings: Saltalamacchia brings a switch-hitting bat and power to the catcher position. The fact that Saltalamacchia has been through a pennant race will provide such much needed experience to a young Miami roster. Saltalamacchia not only hit 14 home runs a season ago, but he had 40 doubles and drove in a career-high 65 runs in 121 games.
What it says: The signing of Saltalamacchia implies that the Marlins felt they needed more offense from the catcher position. While Jeff Mathis handled the young rotation very well a season ago, he doesn’t provide much with his bat. The fact that Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter also suggests that Miami isn’t completely sold on Rob Brantly being able to assume the everyday catcher role.
Grade: A-. With Brian McCann now in New York, the Miami Marlins may have the best catcher in the National League East. Saltalmacchia will be able to hit in the middle of the order for Miami and give the Marlins a run-producer behind the plate.

Signed infielder Rafael Furcal to a one-year deal
The Miami Marlins signed journeyman infielder Rafael Furcal to a one-year deal. The Marlins will become Furcal’s fourth team, but the former Brave, Dodger and Cardinal has spent his entire 13-year career in the National League.
What he brings: Despite being 36 years old, Furcal still runs well, has a great throwing arm and still produces a reasonably high on-base percentage. With Adeiny Hechavarria undoubtedly the future shortstop for Miami, Fucal could serve as a mentor to Hechavarria. With Miami not re-signing Chris Coghlan, Furcal could also see some time at third base.
What it says: Signing Furcal is likely a move to add a veteran that can be used in a number of ways at the plate and on the base-paths. Furcal has been on winning teams for his entire career and will bring a winning attitude to South Florida.
Grade: C-. It’s hard to envision Furcal being a major producer day in and day out, but Furcal will give Miami a veteran bat off the bench while adding speed and leadership to a young club.

Signed first baseman Garrett Jones to a two-year deal
With Logan Morrison on the roster, this move did not originally make sense, but after dealing Morrison, Garrett Jones will likely assume the everyday position at first base for the Marlins.
What he brings: Jones gives Miami a left-handed bat at first base with a bit of pop. Jones also brings durability having played in at least 145 games in each of the last four seasons.
What it says: Signing Jones ultimately signaled that Logan Morrison’s days in South Florida were numbered. While Jones is older than Morrison, he often has two good legs underneath him, something that cannot be said for Morrison. Jones has also produced better in the power categories and will likely find himself in the middle of the opening day order for the Fish.
Grade: B-. While Jones is a more durable first baseman than Morrison, Jones may be just a short-term solution. Jones’ numbers dropped considerably from his 2012 campaign and at 32 years old, Jones may be in the downturn of his career.

Traded first baseman Logan Morrison to Seattle for relief pitcher Carter Capps
After more than three seasons with the Marlins, Miami sent Logan Morrison to Seattle for hard-throwing reliever Carter Capps. In his three full seasons with the Marlins, Morrison never hit better than .247.
What it does: Acquiring Carter Capps gives Miami a young strikeout pitcher that could one day find himself near the back of the bullpen. The move also means that Garrett Jones will assume the first base role and that the Marlins did not feel that Morrison was a viable option moving forward.
Grade: C+. While Morrison never lived up to his lofty expectations for the Marlins, Capps struggled a season ago with an ERA of 5.49 and may not be an immediate help to a Miami bullpen that has really struggled in recent years.

Other Notable Moves
The Marlins recently traded utility outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Brian Bogusevic. Miami also released Chris Coghlan, who won the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year award with the then Florida Marlins. Right-handed reliever Ryan Webb was also released.

Remaining Needs
With Placido Polanco and Chris Coghlan both now being free agents, Miami is still in need of a third baseman, preferably one that can bring a little power to the lineup. While Capps has a live arm and could help the bullpen, the team should still look for help in middle relief. While closer Steve Cishek was lights out to end the season converting each of his final 28 save opportunities, the Marlins still need guys who can get the game to Cishek. Mike Dunn also remains the only left-hander in the bullpen, but Dunn isn’t the traditional “loogy” that specialized against left-handed bats.

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