MIAMI — The Marlins’ short list of potential third base candidates includes Miami native Sean Rodriguez of the Rays.
According to a league source, the Marlins have had internal discussions about Rodriguez. It’s unclear if the 28-year-old Miami’s No. 1 trade target, but he could factor into a plan to at least share time at the hot corner.
The Marlins are closing in on a two-year deal with first baseman Garrett Jones, who has played in at least 144 games in each of the past four seasons with the Pirates.
Assuming Jones eventually signs, the Marlins will likely look to trade Logan Morrison.
Tampa Bay is one of the teams reportedly to have interest in Morrison.
If the teams talk about Morrison, perhaps Rodriguez and a pitcher could get a deal done.
After a week of signing free agents Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Rafael Furcal, the Marlins promise to remain active at the Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Rodriguez, who attended Braddock High School in Miami, made $1 million last season and he is in his second season of arbitration.
In a utility role, Rodriguez batted .246 with a .320 on-base percentage and five homers and 23 RBIs last season.
A right-handed batter, Rodriguez could split time at the hot corner with Ed Lucas or Donovan Solano. Rodriguez also would give some insurance at shortstop for Adeiny Hechavarria, and depth at second or even first base. He also plays the outfield.
Miami may be looking for a stop gap solution at third base until Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick last year, is ready, which could be in 2015.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — With the Marlins closing in on a two-year deal with Garrett Jones, Logan Morrison suddenly becomes the club’s top trade chip heading into the Winter Meetings.
For more than a month, Miami’s front office has discussed how to move forward with Morrison. In many ways, they like all the left-handed hitting first baseman brings to the table — his work ethic, leadership, power potential and approach at the plate.
Basically, all the qualities that made Morrison one of the game’s top prospects in 2010 still remain.
So does doubt.
Two surgeries to his right knee have dramatically reduced his playing time. After being asked to play left field his first few seasons, Morrison is back at first base, his primary position in the Minor Leagues. But he’s had struggles in the field, and he didn’t demonstrate the type of power the club had hoped — six homers in 85 games.
Obviously, missing all of Spring Training was a factor. But in a bottom-line business like the big leagues, it’s about results.
For the first time since 2011, Morrison will be heading into Spring Training fully healthy. He began his hitting routine on Friday near his offseason apartment in Denver. He’s once again able to do squats in the weight room. He’s running, pain-free, and taking care of his body by eating right and trimming down.
“I have no doubts in my mind that I will be back to where I need to be next year,” Morrison told MLB.com on Friday. “It’s a process, like anything else. You’ve got to stick with it.”
Highly-motivated, there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged that Morrison can become the player the industry envisioned before his injuries.
Yet, the decision the Marlins are making is based on about what they’ve actually seen — the results. Morrison now is entering arbitration, and his projected salary, according to the MLB Trade Rumors site is $1.7 million. The arbitration model was developed by Matt Swartz, and it has been pretty accurate in recent years.
To an organization like the Marlins, where every dollar matters, they want to feel confident Morrison will be on the field for 140 or more games for guaranteed money close to $2 million.
Already, the team has a risky situation at second base. Rafael Furcal on Friday officially signed a one-year, $3 million contract with Miami.
Miami is rolling the dice that Furcal, who missed all of 2013 due to Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will be able to perform regularly.
The 36-year-old Furcal, a career shortstop, is moving to second base.
If Morrison returns, the Marlins would have about $4.7 million locked up on the right side of their infield on two players rebouding from injuries.
Jones, meanwhile, is a left-handed hitting first baseman who has played in at least 144 games in each of the past four years with the Pirates. Three-times he’s hit more than 20 homers in a season, and he has a career slugging percentage of .458.
At age 32, Jones is six years older than Morrison, but he’s stayed healthy.
The Marlins reportedly are offering Jones $7.75 million for two years.
Jones also is a player the Marlins have had their eye on for years. Granted, he would be a platoon candidate because of his splits against left-handed pitching. But he also can play right field.
While Miami is not considering trading Giancarlo Stanton, Jones gives some depth and left-handed pop at the position.
Keep in mind, Stanton also has had his injury issues. Last year, he missed more than a month with a hamstring strain.
Assuming Jones’ deal becomes official in the next day or two, Morrison pretty much is guaranteed to be traded.
The Brewers and Rays are a couple of potential landing spots.
In the offseason, the Marlins hired Jeff McAvoy as their the new director of pro scouting. McAvoy cames to Miami after working for Tampa Bay. So, if Miami is wanting to do business with the Rays, they have someone who knows their system well.
Sean Rodriguez, a versatile infielder, could be a possible piece to play third. And he gives insurance at shortstop.
The Brewers, meanwhile, have also checked in on Morrison’s availability.
There could be a fit with Milwaukee.
In the past, the Marlins have coveted Juan Francisco. Perhaps a Morrison for Francisco deal may make sense? There are questions about Francisco’s work ethic, which could present a problem.
Francisco, 26, is a left-handed hitter with power, who is arbitration eligible for the first time.
In 2013, Francisco belted 18 homers while playing for both the Braves and Brewers.
Francisco can play third base and first.
Third base is the club’s primary need heading into the Winter Meetings. The organization has a highly-touted third base prospect in Colin Moran, but he likely won’t be big league ready for another year or so.
The way the Marlins’ roster is shaping up, the Marlins may have a few platoon candidates on the field. Jones is one at first base, perhaps third base could be handled that way. Rodriguez is solid defensively. He doesn’t have the power of Francisco, but he brings has playoff experience, and is able to take on several roles.
The Marlins may be best suited to do a bit of what the Rays have done, mix and match.
Rodriguez, along with Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas, could be used in a variety of roles. Each can play several infield spots.
As is, Stanton and Marcell Ozuna are Miami’s main right-handed power threats. Justin Ruggiano is another option off the bench.
From the left side, Jones would be a proven 20-homer candidate, and Christian Yelich is a pure hitter capable of 15 or so home runs.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Furcal are switch-hitters.
If Francisco and Jones join the lineup, immediately what was the Major League’s worst offense in 2013 becomes dramatically better.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — As trade rumors swirl, Logan Morrison on Friday was preparing to begin his offseason hitting program.
The 26-year-old first baseman is the subject of trade discussions as the Marlins are weighing their first base options.
According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins are discussing a two-year deal with free agent Garrett Jones, who was non-tendered by the Pirates earlier in the week.
Other reports have the Marlins in the mix for free agent Mike Napoli.
Morrison, meanwhile, is tending to his own business, which is getting in the best shape possible for Spring Training. He notes that whatever team he plays for in 2014, he will be honored.
Since at least the General Managers Meetings in November, the Marlins have listened to potential offers for Morrison.
The team may be looking to package Morrison for a third baseman.
One thing Morrison is certain about this offseason is he is healthy. He’s been actively working out since the season ended, doing plenty of cardio. On Friday, he began his hitting program, which he plans on doing daily.
“I’m going to be hitting every day,” Morrison told MLB.com on Friday. “I’ve been working out every day. All the [tests] I’ve been put through with my knee, I’ve passed with flying colors.”
Morrison is in Denver training with an instructor in an indoor facility. He’s also doing squatting exercises with weights for the first time in three years.
More than rumors, Morrison is training to be ready for Spring Training.
“I have no doubts in my mind that I will be back to where I need to be next year,” Morrison said. “It’s a process, like anything else. You’ve got to stick with it.”
In 2013, Morrison’s hitting mechanics changed a bit. He’s currently studying video on his swing.
“My style changed a lot last year, where my hands would go down, and stuff like that,” Morrison said. “We’re going to look at film. We’re going to discuss style, and we’re going to look at when I was successful in the big leagues, what I did, and how to be more consistent, and more successful. Taking what I know now, and try to implement that into the hitter I was.
“You don’t realize how much you need Spring Training, if you don’t have it. Look at Ryan Howard. Look at all the guys who don’t go through Spring Training, and try to come back midway through the year. They don’t have the years they should. That’s going to be good, having a full offseason and Spring Training. I’m excited about it.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins have interest in bringing Chris Coghlan back, but the 28-year-old is weighing all his options.
In a text messages to MLB.com on Wednesday night, Coghlan confirmed he is considering an opportunity to rejoin the Marlins. But he noted he has already been contacted by a number of other clubs.
“Right now, honestly, I’m just evaluating the numerous offers, with Miami being one of them,” Coghlan replied in a text. “[I] will decide on which team in the near future.”
Coghlan became a free agent on Monday when he was non-tendered by the Marlins.
The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year did not identify any other teams who have contacted him in recent days. Coghlan added there is a “good amount of interest.”
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill on Wednesday afternoon said on a conference call to beat reporters that the team would like to bring Coghlan back.
“We’re actually trying to re-sign Chris, to keep him in the organization,” Hill said.
A compensatory first-round pick in 2006, Coghlan batted .321 in ’09, the year he won top NL Rookie honors. But injuries have hampered him since he underwent left knee surgery in 2010. Last year, Coghlan was limited to 70 games with Miami, due to right calf and back ailments.
“He came through our system and was Rookie of the Year,” Hill said.
Had Coghlan been tendered, his role would have been as a reserve outfielder, who could play some third base.
“It would be a similar role, if he were to re-sign,” Hill said. “He would have to compete. If not, he would be prepared to go to Triple-A and help the club when that need arose.”
In his first year eligible for arbitration, Coghlan was projected to make about $1 million in ’14. Hill noted the Marlins would like the left-handed hitting outfielder back at a reduced cost.
Coghlan would not say if Miami was ready to present a big league contract, or bring him back on a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invitation.
If another team offers a big league deal, it is likely Coghlan will move on from Miami.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins on Monday non-tendered Chris Coghlan, but that doesn’t automatically mean the 28-year-old is done playing for the organization.
President of baseball operations Michael Hill told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that the Marlins have had discussions with Coghlan in hopes of signing him at a lower cost than his projected arbitration number.
Coghlan, the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year, is now a free agent. If he were to return to Miami it would be competing for a spot as a reserve outfielder.
The Marlins had no official announcement on catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Saltalamacchia reached agreement on a three-year, $21 million contract on Tuesday, pending completion of his physical. That process has not been finished.
Without mentioning Saltalamachia by name, Hill did note the Marlins could have an announcement in the next day or so.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI –- Pending a physical, the Marlins are on the verge of landing their biggest free agent acquisition in more than a year.
On Tuesday night, Miami came to terms with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a three-year, $21 million contract, according to an industry source.
The Marlins have yet to make an official announcement.
Negotiations accelerated in the last day, when it was revealed on Monday that Miami had an offer on the table for the 28-year-old catcher, who had been with the Red Sox since 2010.
The pending signing marks a homecoming for Saltalamacchia, and he fills one of Miami’s biggest needs.
The Marlins and Saltalamacchia certainly are a strong fit. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder attended Royal Palm Beach High School, which isn’t far from where Miami has Spring Training in Jupiter, Fla.
Miami had been in the market for an offensive-minded catcher with some power. Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter coming off a solid season with Boston. He batted .273 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs for the World Series champs.
In parts of seven big league seasons, Saltalamacchia is a career .246 hitter with 78 homers and 275 RBIs.
Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, posted a career best 25 homers in 2012.
In each of the past two seasons, he has appeared in 121 games. His arrival means Jeff Mathis will handle backup catching duties, and Rob Brantly will likely open the season at Triple-A New Orleans.
With a modest overall payroll, the Marlins were considered a surprise team to go after a high-profile free agent. Now, they landed one of the top catchers available.
Miami is considering trading some of its young pitching depth for impact bats. In case of the catcher position, that is no longer the case.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The process continues in the Marlins’ pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Miami has strong interest, and has a multi-year offer is on the table. But as of late Tuesday afternoon, nothing was finalized. And nothing was imminent.
The Marlins and Twins are believed to be the two contenders after reports the Rangers were not interested.
The Red Sox have moved in another direction by signing A.J. Pierzynski.
Saltalamacchia, the 28-year-old catcher, is in the process of considering his options.
According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, the Marlins have a two-year offer with a club option for a third year on the table.
Financial terms and years have not been confirmed.
The Denver Post reported Saltalamacchia will be heading to the Marlins. At some point, that may occur, but nothing was imminent as of late Tuesday.
The Marlins are not expected to be major players in free agency, and signing a player to a multiyear deal right now is something the team is sorting out.
Clearly, the Marlins are hopeful of landing Saltalamacchia.
As of now, the team isn’t seriously looking at fallback options. That would change if they don’t sign Saltalamachia.
– Joe Frisaro