Today we continue our free agent rankings as we move to first base. In 2013, the Marlins entrusted the first base position to Logan Morrison. Morrison once again struggled with injuries and bouts of ineffectiveness. It seems like every year we feel like Morrison is primed to have a break-out year and he routinely disappoints. After three “full” seasons he still hasn’t played more than 123 games in any of them. At some point the Marlins have to feel like Morrison might be a bit of a lost cause. That being said, the Marlins have plenty of other holes in their lineup that need to be filled, so I don’t anticipate Miami signing a big name, free agent first baseman. Loria has surprised me before though, and for that reason, we will bring you the top free agents at first base.
Morales is one of the top hitting free agents this offseason, but the chances of him joining the Marlins are slim at best. Morales, a switch-hitter with average power, will likely be best suited as a designated hitter in the American League. He is a below average defender at first base and doesn’t hit for a ton of power for average first basemen. He also clogs up the base paths with well below average speed.
He does possess some positives for the team that signs him. He is at a prime age for power hitters, as he will be 30 this upcoming year. He hits both right and left-handed pitching effectively. He also has Cuban heritage, which we know that Jeffrey Loria values in the Miami market.
I don’t believe that these outweigh the negatives that Morales brings to the table. The biggest detriment to Morales signing with the Marlins will be his contract. I expect his contract to be in the 5 year 62 million dollar range, which will be way out of Miami’s price range this off-season. Look for Morales to resign with the Seattle Mariners.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 1/10
Morneau, a long-time Minnesota Twin, finished this last season in a Pittsburgh uniform after a mid-season trade. The former A.L. MVP has seen his production decline significantly since a severe concussion that he suffered in 2010. His stats have regularly decreased in everything from average, walk rate, home runs and splits against left-handed pitching.
One area that Morneau has not declined would be his defense. He is still an excellent defender at first base. He should also be signing a team friendly contract this off-season, in order to try to get a bigger long-term contract next year.
I don’t believe that the Marlins will seriously consider signing Morneau. He is pretty much the same thing that the Marlins already have with Morrison, except 7 years older. Look for Morneau to sign with an American League team, Possibly Boston or Tampa Bay.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 2/10
Mark Reynolds: The most intriguing of the first baseman prospects, I believe, is Mark Reynolds. Let me throw some numbers out for you, 28, 44, 32, 37, 23, 21. Those numbers are the number of home runs that Reynolds has hit in the last 6 years. The man has power in spades. Unfortunately for Reynolds, he also strikes out a lot…I mean a WHOLE lot. He led the league in strikeouts for four consecutive years from 2008 through 2011. The last two years he has reduced his strikeouts by about 50 a season, and he has also seen a decrease in power, failing to hit 25 home runs both of those seasons. His batting average has not really increased either during that time.
The thing about Reynolds, is that he answers the Marlins most pressing need, power. He also provides some position flexibility, able to play either first base or third base. This why I can easily see Reynolds becoming a Marlin next year. This may be me cheating just a little bit, but the Marlins may sign him with the mindset of playing third base and as an insurance policy against LoMo getting injured again (surely that wouldn’t happen).
He can provide protection in the lineup for Giancarlo Stanton, and if Morrison is unable to stay healthy during the next two years, they can slide Reynolds over to first base when Colin Moran is ready. I believe that Reynolds will get a 4 year deal worth around 25 million dollars. I think that Miami will attempt to sign Juan Uribe from the Los Angeles Dodgers first, but if they are unable to secure a deal with him, look for Reynolds to be the next priority.
Likelihood of Becoming a Marlin: 6.5/10
Tomorrow we will continue with the second half of our free agent rankings. In the meantime, let me know what you think of these three free agents and whether or not you think they would be a good fit for Miami in the comments below.