Marlins to seek out backup catcher

Marlins to seek out backup catcher

Club needs:

VETERAN CATCHER -- The Marlins are perfectly happy with John Baker, who stepped up in the second half as the regular backstop. But the team is eyeing a veteran to either win the job outright or share the position with Baker, who is entering his second Major League season. Catching is a priority since the team has a young pitching staff that is looking for guidance.

CORNER OUTFIELDER -- Trading Josh Willingham to the Nationals leaves Cody Ross and Jeremy Hermida as the most experienced outfielders on the roster, assuming Alfredo Amezaga will be used in the infield. Ross is expected to take over in left field, but there is a lot of speculation that Hermida could be traded. If he is, there will be an outfield spot to fill.

PITCHING -- As we've seen in the three trades consummated before the Winter Meetings, the Marlins received pitching in return in all of those deals. The team preaches pitching, stating you can never have too much of it. So it will be exploring the market for more arms. It is pretty safe to assume that in any trade that may happen in Vegas, the Marlins will be looking to bring back a pitcher.

Who they can or need to trade:

RF Jeremy Hermida -- If presented with an enticing offer, the 24-year-old right fielder could be moved. There are a handful of teams already interested in the former first-round Draft pick. The Rays, Cubs, Phillies and Brewers have Hermida on their radar.

C Matt Treanor -- Entering his second season of arbitration, Treanor's salary expects to raise to close to $1 million. If he returns, it will be as a backup to Baker. Treanor is coming off left hip surgery, but he is expected to be ready by the start of Spring Training.

INF/OF Alfredo Amezaga -- Without question, the Marlins would prefer to keep the all-purpose Amezaga, who is regarded as a valuable asset. He's played seven positions -- everything but pitcher and catcher -- since joining the Marlins in 2006. Now entering his second season of arbitration, he is becoming a bit pricey. Amezaga has been a fallback option to play center field in the past. The hope is Cameron Maybin will be the regular center fielder, which would indicate Amezaga would be used solely as an infielder. Amezaga is a superb fielder, and he could bring back value in return. If he is moved, Emilio Bonifacio is an athletic infielder who could fill the utility role, if he doesn't win the starting third-base job. Robert Andino also fits Amezaga's role.

2B Dan Uggla -- Odds favor Uggla returning to the Marlins. The two-time All-Star second baseman has now reached his arbitration years, and he is in line for a big pay raise. For the right offer, Florida could be tempted. But the team isn't aggressively shopping Uggla.

Top prospects:

LHP Sean West, OF Mike Stanton and 3B Matt Dominguez -- All three are "untouchable" and rank among the best prospects in all of baseball.

LHP Aaron Thompson, RHP Ryan Tucker, 1B Logan Morrison, OF Scott Cousins, OF John Raynor -- Of this group, Tucker has already had big league service time. Thompson is getting very close, as is Raynor. Cousins and Morrison are rapidly rising. It's doubtful any of these prospects would be traded.

RHP Rick VandenHurk, INF Robert Andino -- Both have big league service time, but have shuffled up and down in the system. These two could be potential trade chips.

Big contracts they might unload:

Uggla -- Although it is doubtful he will be moved, Uggla projects to make the most money of all the team's arbitration players.

Arbitration-eligible:

RHP Josh Johnson, RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Joe Nelson, Uggla, Treanor, Amezaga, Ross, Hermida, INF Jorge Cantu, 3B Dallas McPherson, RHP Logan Kensing.

Payroll summation:

Payroll projects to rise to about $35 million, which is still expected to rank last in the league. In 2008, the Marlins finished 84-77 with a $22 million payroll. Having so many arbitration-eligible players increases the likelihood of more deals being made.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.