Marlins cautiously watching trade market

Marlins cautiously watching trade market

LOS ANGELES -- For the Marlins to pull the trigger on a deal before Friday's Trade Deadline, a number of factors must first fall into place.

Foremost, the organization isn't willing to spin off top-rated prospects for a quick fix.

The team also has made a conscious decision not to force a trade just to make a trade.

Still in position to make a run at the National League East title, as well as the Wild Card, president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest has been working the phones for about a month looking to upgrade.

The struggle is so many teams are in the same boat as the Marlins, and the players who might be available may not be worth the risk of trading away key prospects.

"We've been looking; Larry Beinfest has been looking at moves for a month," Marlins president David Samson said. "It's a difficult scenario because we're not willing to trade our future, because we have such good position players coming up.

"We feel like we're in position to do something, which is critically important, which is to be good each year. We don't want to hurt that streak of being competitive every year."

The prospects all teams are inquiring about are outfielder Mike Stanton and first baseman Logan Morrison. Both are regarded as untouchable. Both could be making the leap from Double-A Jacksonville to starting in the big leagues as early as next year.

"We're looking to improve ourselves right now," Beinfest said. "We are active. I don't think we've ever really been inactive. It's just different every year, and every team is different."

In recent weeks, the Marlins already made moves to upgrade the bullpen. Veterans Brendan Donnelly and Luis Ayala have been added, but the search continues to add more parts.

"We've talked about some of our younger guys getting experience, and getting better as the season goes on," Beinfest noted.

Spending wisely on payroll is crucial for the Marlins, a low-revenue-generating franchise. A new, retractable-roof ballpark, which is set to open in 2012, will help push up payroll. Until then, the team will be on a tight budget.

"We're not building for 2012. We're building to win, every single year," Samson said. "So we have to be careful.

"We look at the players we have, and we're set up for years. When we go into the new ballpark, we want to be more than competitive. We're not willing to wait until 2012. If there is a chance to get better now, we want to do it. But it's a fine line because you don't want to do it at the expense of the future."

If there is an established player available to help improve the team's playoff chances now, this front office has shown it is willing to pull the trigger.

In 2003, for instance, the Marlins acquired reliever Ugueth Urbina from the Rangers for a package of prospects that included first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who now is an All-Star with the Padres.

"It's a dilemma everybody faces. We faced it, too, in July of 2003, we traded Adrian Gonzalez and got back Ugueth Urbina," Samson said. "The difference between now and then was, if you recall, Ugueth Urbina was leading the American League in saves. He was the primary closer on the market, hands down. It's been a little different this year in defining an impact player."

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