Marlins prepare to build on Meetings
After pulling off blockbuster, Beinfest focuses on third base
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In a spacious hotel, complete with winding paths, restaurants, gift shops and a large water fountain, the Marlins played their part in making the biggest splash at the annual Winter Meetings.
By dealing Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit, Florida pulled off the trade that kept the Meetings abuzz for several days.
For two All-Star players, the Marlins acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin, catcher Mike Rabelo and pitchers Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern.
"As far as our new players, they fit right in with our young group," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "Miller, we expect to be in our rotation, and Maybin is our center fielder very soon or in the very near future. And then there is a stable of young arms. Also, Rabelo will have an opportunity to catch every day for us and be in that mix."
As for saying goodbye to Willis and Cabrera, the final two players from the 2003 World Series title team, it was a move prompted by Florida's difficult financial situation.
Without the security of a new ballpark, the team is financially strapped to retain players like Willis and Cabrera, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. In arbitration, the two were projected to make about $18 million next season.
"Obviously, they are both great players and both great friends of mine," second baseman Dan Uggla said in an interview with MLB.TV. "But, you know, teams make moves like this every year. We're going to just go out and try to win as many games as we can."
Considering these moves were mandated from management, the Marlins did the best they could in landing promising new players.
While names like Miller and Maybin are relatively unknown to the general public, they are universally respected within the industry.
Mingling around the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, a number of front office officials from other teams were praising the Marlins' efforts in landing outstanding young talent.
Maybin, Miller and Rabelo each are expected to be on the Opening Day roster, most likely starting.
The search is now on for a third baseman, and as of Wednesday afternoon, Florida officials were in preliminary contact with the Phillies about trading for Wes Helms, who is under contact for 2008 at $2.15 million.
The Marlins have approached the Phillies about Helms and were told that before a deal could be worked out, Philadelphia will explore alternative third-base options.
Helms played for Florida in 2006.
Another name to keep an eye on to play third is Jorge Cantu, who was released by the Reds. The Marlins could claim Cantu off waivers, or wait to see if he clears waivers by 1 p.m. ET Friday and becomes a free agent. About eight teams have expressed interest.
Cleveland's Josh Barfield is another infielder the Marlins are eyeing.
Deals done: Traded Cabrera and Willis to the Tigers for Maybin, Miller, Rabelo and pitching prospects Badenhop, De La Cruz and Trahern.
Rule 5 activity: Selected right-handed pitcher Jose Guevara of the Reds' system in the Major League phase, and traded him to the Padres for cash considerations. In the Triple-A phase, took shortstop Smelin Perez (Pirates) and outfielder Daron Roberts (White Sox). And in the Double-A Phase, they went with pitcher Kenny Fernandez (Phillies) and pitcher Adalberto Mendez (Cubs).
Goals accomplished: Moving Cabrera was the primary offseason priority, since the club realized it wouldn't be able to afford him. So by packaging the slugger with Willis, the club succeeded in getting strong value for a pair of All-Stars. The acquisition enabled the Marlins to fill three needs: starting pitcher, center fielder and catcher. Adding three more quality arms to the organization strengthens the Minor League system.
Unfinished business: The process of finding a third baseman to replace Cabrera started immediately after the trade. Adding additional starting pitching candidates also remains an active pursuit. Ideally, the Marlins would like to find some veterans who can eat up their share of innings.
GM's bottom line: "The reason why two great players [Cabrera and Willis] were moved from the Marlins was because our ability to carry those two players through arbitration and into free agency is prohibitive in our current revenue structure." -- Beinfest
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.