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Marlins have company in search for run producers

Marlins have company in search for run producers

Marlins have company in search for run producers

MIAMI -- The Marlins are surveying the market for impact bats, but they are not alone.

Demand for quality hitters is high around the league, and the supply is scarce. For upgrades, the Marlins are exploring trades and modestly priced free-agent options.

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"You're assessing needs, sharing thoughts and seeing if there are fits," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said last week at the General Managers Meetings. "You take all that info, download it and see if there are deals and fits to be made."

Ideally, Miami would like to add two or three new bats, preferrably at third base and catcher. If something makes sense at second base, or perhaps first, the club is open to listening.

Early indications are showing the market is thin for impact and power hitters. That's one reason why the Marlins are saying publicly they are searching for run producers, not necessarily home run hitters.

League-wide, there has been a decline in home runs and RBIs.

"We've got a really, really different game when it comes to power," agent Scott Boras said at the GM Meetings. "There were [12] players that had 25 homers and 100 RBIs."

Finding players who can produce those kinds of numbers will be costly.

"The need for power and the need for middle-of-the-lineup bats is in great demand," Boras said. "And there aren't many of them."

In free agency, the Marlins are seeking veterans who don't have tremendous salary demands. And they must be willing to be part of an organization going through the rebuilding process.

The team has already reached out to Juan Uribe to play either third base or first. A proven run producer, Uribe brings leadership to the table, and he is playoff-proven. For that, he's seeking at least a two-year deal. Uribe is already drawing interest from several clubs, and he may wind up back with the Dodgers.

Eric Chavez, who turns 36 in December, is another potential fit. Like Uribe, Chavez is attracting attention from several clubs. After turning in a solid season with the D-backs, the veteran third baseman has been linked to the Yankees, who he played 171 games for in 2011-12.

A few years ago, the Marlins made trade inquiries for veteran infielder Michael Young, who is also a free agent. At this stage of his career, he could be more interested in going with a more established club.

The challenge for the front office in going after established players is convincing them the Marlins can turn things around quickly. Otherwise, these free agents will likely seek deals with more serious playoff contenders.

Also, to secure the services of Chavez, Uribe and Young, the Marlins should be prepared to pay market value.

Trades may be the most realistic avenue to address infield needs.

Mark Trumbo would fit the bill for a big-time power bat. But the Angels are looking for a top-of-the-rotation starter in return. While Miami is open to trading some of its surplus pitching, the club is not looking to part with hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi, its likely No. 2 starter.

St. Louis' David Freese and Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox are intriguing potential trade choices.

If possible, the Marlins would like to acquire position players who have controllable years before they reach free agency. Again, those players often are the most difficult to obtain.

Internally, there are some options to play third. Derek Dietrich, who finished the season at Double-A, is expected to see time in Spring Training at second and third base. Donovan Solano was the regular second baseman, but he may end up as a utility player.

Chris Coghlan, who can play all three outfield spots, could see some action at third base. Arbitration-eligible for the first time, Coghlan also may be a trade chip.

At the GM Meetings, the Miami officials met with other clubs, and ideas were exchanged that may soon come to fruition. While a number of teams have similar needs, there are potential deals to be made. It's a matter of being creative and finding a match.

"People are looking for bats," Hill said. "People are looking for pitching. It's a mixed bag. Everybody has their particular needs that they are looking to satisfy."

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.

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