Rising Marlins make most of trip to swap meet

Winter Meetings end with Miami using trades to address rotation, second base

Rising Marlins make most of trip to swap meet

SAN DIEGO -- After four eventful days at the Winter Meetings, the pieces are starting to fall into place for the Marlins. Now that the dust has settled, the organization is optimistic that it's moving closer to contending in the National League East.

Granted, games aren't won in December, but the Marlins clearly are exiting MLB's biggest offseason showcase riding the momentum of three trades that covered all but one significant need.

The Marlins solidified second base with the addition of Dee Gordon from the Dodgers. They also added two experienced right-handers, Mat Latos (formerly with the Reds) and Dan Haren (part of the Gordon trade).

Redmond on Gordon, Haren deal

"We came into the Winter Meetings with a plan and had a good feel for what our club was and what our club needed," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.

Miami dramatically upgraded team speed with Gordon, and Latos is a proven top-of-the-rotation right-hander. The two additions signal to the rest of the NL that the Marlins are serious about being in the postseason race.

A bold seven-player trade pulled off on Wednesday energized the Meetings for Miami. Gordon, an All-Star second baseman, was acquired along with Haren and infielder Miguel Rojas from the Dodgers for Andrew Heaney, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Hatcher and Austin Barnes.

The price to bring in Gordon was steep, but the team felt it was necessary to turn a weakness into a strength. Last year, the Marlins stole just 58 bases as a team. Gordon, meanwhile, paced the Majors with 64 steals.

Gordon takes over at second base, and he slides into the leadoff spot ahead of Christian Yelich, who led off in 2014. They will be the tablesetters for No. 3 hitter Giancarlo Stanton.

Hot Stove on Gordon to Marlins

"It allows us to move Yelich deeper into the lineup, in front of Stanton," Hill said. "I think it will put a lot of pressure on opposing teams, and [it] allows us to score more runs."

The threat of speed now becomes an issue for opponents, especially if they want to pitch around Stanton.

Latos and Haren bring proven track records to Miami. There is a question if Haren, 34, will accept the trade. He is also is pondering retirement. If that is the case, the Dodgers will offer financial compensation to the Marlins.

Deals done
On Wednesday, the Marlins acquired Gordon, Haren, Rojas and cash considerations from the Dodgers for Heaney, Hernandez, Barnes and Hatcher. On Thursday, Latos was acquired from the Reds for right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and catching prospect Chad Wallach, while Miami added righty Andre Rienzo from the White Sox for lefty reliever Dan Jennings.

Rule 5 Draft activity
The Marlins selected left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan from the Cubs' organization in the Major League phase. Also in the Major League phase, Miami lost first baseman Mark Canha, who was taken by the Rockies and then traded to the A's.

Goals accomplished
Two of three priorities were addressed. The Marlins had coveted a starting pitcher and a second baseman, and they got both. When you rank 27th overall in stolen bases, and you play in a ballpark that favors speed, acquiring one of the fastest players in the sport makes sense. Gordon has game-changing speed. Latos makes the rotation stronger and will help hold the fort until Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery around the All-Star break.

Nelson on Marlins landing Latos

Unfinished business
A great deal was accomplished, but the search for a power bat continues. The ideal candidate will bat cleanup behind Stanton, offering more protection and lengthening the lineup. Free agent Michael Morse, Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau and the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez are possibilities.

Team's bottom line
Changing the look of the offense was a high priority. Gordon did that in a flash.

"Our goal was to add another bat. I don't know if Dee was the bat we were expecting to add. When you can access that type of game-changing speed, for who we are, it made a lot of sense." -- Hill

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.