Inbox: Would Marlins bring back Uggla?
Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers fan questions in the latest installment
One thing I like about the offseason is the Inbox. I have heard a lot of trade rumors and free-agent rumors. In your opinion, what do you think about Dan Uggla coming back to Miami? Also, what are the chances of getting Mark Trumbo, Eric Chavez or Yuniesky Betancourt?
-- Joans O., Havana, Cuba
This is the time when trades and signings start to pick up. In the past week, we've seen a flurry of moves, including the Prince Fielder deal to Texas, the David Freese trade to the Angels and the free-agent signing of Brian McCann by the Yankees.
History has shown us that the Marlins are active at about this time. In separate deals on Thanksgiving night in 2005, they traded Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox, and Carlos Delgado to the Mets.
You may recall that the Marlins traded Uggla to the Braves during the General Managers Meetings in November 2010.
But I don't see a scenario in which Uggla returns to Miami. His cost and declining numbers the past two seasons raise red flags. In addition, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second. If a move for a second baseman is made, it would be for a younger player who could grow with the rest of the club.
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Trumbo would be the huge power bat the club is seeking, but unless the Marlins trade a front-line starter, I doubt that will occur. Chavez, a free agent, could make sense if he wants to be part of a building process. Juan Uribe is in a similar situation, although he is looking for at least two years.
Betancourt seems more like a candidate for a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Would the Marlins have an interest in former top prospects who have lost some of their hype? Tony Sanchez of the Pirates is a good defensive player behind the plate, and may still hit, while the Pirates are deep behind the dish. Tim Beckham of the Rays could play second as another example.
-- Matt J., Boynton Beach, Fla.
A stock answer by the front office is that they are open to everything. Sanchez, 25, is from Miami, so there's a local tie. He played sparingly for the Pirates in 2013 and posted solid Minor League numbers -- a .282 batting average, 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 80 games. He could fit the mold for catching depth.
The team's primary focus is more on either a catcher with a big league track record or a big league-ready prospect who can split time with Jeff Mathis. The Marlins are looking for some more offensive productivity from the position, which is a reason they have an interest in free agent Dioner Navarro. Chris Iannetta of the Angels is a potential trade piece.
Middle infielder Beckham, the first overall pick in 2008 by the Rays, reached the big leagues in late September. He once was considered a "can't miss" talent, but the Marlins are looking for players who are a little more established.
Since the Marlins are searching for a player who can drive in runs, how about an old friend, Jorge Cantu? He fits the mold of someone who can give you doubles and drive in some runs. He could be a steal on the market.
-- Sam M., Orlando
You are mentioning a player who indeed was very productive in his two-plus seasons with the Marlins. In 2008 he made a big impact in the middle of the lineup, belting 29 homers and driving in 95 runs. He knocked in 100 runs in 2009 and 54 in 2010 before being traded to the Rangers in July of that season, but he hasn't been in the Majors since 2011.
A real pro, and popular with his teammates, Cantu played for Mexico in the 2012 World Baseball Classic. He is currently playing winter ball in Mexico.
Cantu turns 32 in late January, and if he can show that he has anything left, he could perhaps get a non-roster invitation with some club.
As for the Marlins, they are looking at a number of other options.
With the outfield depth in the organization, what are the chances the Marlins trade Giancarlo Stanton for a big bat in the form of a third baseman or catcher?
-- Daniel P., Tampa
Before the General Managers Meetings in Orlando a couple of weeks ago, the Marlins made it public that Stanton wasn't available. Skeptics doubted. They said to wait and see what the Meetings had to offer. Again, the Marlins informed teams that Stanton is not available. So barring a change of heart, which is highly unlikely, this is a completely moot topic.
Indeed, the Marlins have outfield depth. They have a promising left fielder in Christian Yelich. Marcell Ozuna has terrific upside and projects to start in center. Jake Marisnick is athletic, fast and above average defensively. But he may need more Minor League seasoning to get his bat going.
The bottom line is, the Marlins ranked last in the Majors in offense in 2013 and so are not willing to part with the force that is Stanton. Consider this: Miami hit 95 home runs this past season, with just 36 at Marlins Park. Stanton had 24 homers, including 15 in Miami.
No other member of the Marlins hit more than three home runs at home.
What is going on with Rob Brantly? He was supposed to be the catcher of the future. Why isn't he being mentioned as a starter?
-- Beth C., Fort Lauderdale
This will be a big Spring Training and an important season for Brantly. In his case, maybe it was too much too fast. After he was acquired from the Tigers as part of the Anibal Sanchez /Omar Infante deal in July 2012, Brantly showed tremendous promise. In 31 big league games and 100 at-bats, he batted .290 with three homers and eight RBIs. He offered some power from the left side, as well as some plate discipline, as reflected by his .372 on-base percentage.
But last season the game seemed to hurry up on him. He was the Opening Day catcher, but he struggled both defensively and offensively. His numbers dipped, and he finished with a .211 batting average, one homer and 18 RBIs in 67 games. He spent time in the season's second half at Triple-A New Orleans.
Brantly is just 24 and he plays one of the most demanding positions. Most likely, he will open at New Orleans, where he can settle back and let his game develop.