Marlins' five takeaways from GM Meetings

Marlins' five takeaways from GM Meetings

MIAMI -- They met with other club officials. They talked in general terms, and on Thursday, the Marlins exited the General Managers Meetings with a better understanding of how the market is shaping up.

Nothing substantive transpired for Miami over its four-day fact-finding mission in Boca Raton, Fla. But the information gathered at the meetings will help set the groundwork for potential moves in the upcoming days or weeks.

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"This is the opportunity to say, 'Hey, how you been? What are you guys looking to do?'" Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "You see if there might be a fit. You're in that part of the dance now."

As the meetings draw to a close, here are five things to take away from what took place this week at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

1. Premium placed on starting pitching
If it wasn't certain before, it is now: the Marlins' foremost need is at least one innings-eating starter. Yes, this is a deep free-agent class, but cost matters. Miami will not go after David Price or Zack Greinke. It may not be willing to bid high for say, Scott Kazmir. Pitchers with qualifying-offer labels also may not fit the profile, because the Marlins are reluctant to lose a Draft pick as compensation. Doug Fister could be a nice fit. Also look for a possible trade for a young starter years away from free agency.

2. Marcell Ozuna situation
Will the center fielder stay or be dealt for a high-end pitcher? More drama arose from the Ozuna situation after his agent, Scott Boras, and Marlins president David Samson exchanged some heated words.

Boras took exception to Ozuna being optioned to Triple-A New Orleans last July.

"He's a lifetime .265 hitter, and I can find you 30 players in the Major Leagues that went 1-for-36 sometime in their career and they did not get sent to the Minor Leagues," Boras said. "When you do those things, it sends a message to players, sends a message to the locker room and sends a message to everyone that looks at the organization that there is a calculus going on that is beyond performance."

Samson's response: "My strong suggestion to Mr. Boras is that instead of resting on his five percent that he collects from his stable of players, he write a check and buy a team. Then he would have the opportunity to run a team that he claims to be so able to do. Until that time, he is in no position to comment how any Major League Baseball team is operated."

3. Jim Benedict factor
One the Marlins' biggest offseason pickups quietly took place in late October with the hiring of Benedict, formerly with the Pirates, as vice president of pitching development. The next day, Miami traded pitching prospect Trevor Williams to Pittsburgh for Minor League pitcher Richard Mitchell. ESPN reported the deal actually was compensation for the Marlins hiring Benedict, who was still under contract with the Bucs.

The Marlins had previously hired Marc DelPiano from the Pirates to be vice president of player development.

With Miami, Benedict's impact will be felt at the big league and Minor League levels. He will have a say in the hiring of the new pitching coach.

4. Stanton's status
Giancarlo Stanton, recovering from his broken left hamate bone, has yet to start swinging a bat. According to Hill, that will take place around Dec. 1. The club insists Stanton will be ready for Spring Training, but until he swings the bat pain-free, there is uncertainty.

5. Retaining core regulars
If Ozuna is traded, then what? Indications are the Marlins will not go after a high-priced free-agent outfielder. So unless there is a change of thinking, it is doubtful they would pursue free agents Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton.

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