Marlins targeting offense at GM Meetings

Marlins targeting offense at GM Meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With a single-minded focus, the Marlins head into the General Managers Meetings on Monday knowing exactly what they need.

"Offense, offense, offense," said Michael Hill, president of baseball operations. "We want to find ways to continue to keep our pitching strong, but also to add more offense."

The Marlins finished last in the Majors in pretty much every significant hitting category in 2013, including batting average (.231), runs scored (513) and home runs (95).

Because of financial limitations, the Marlins aren't expected to become major players on the free-agent market, but they are open to wheeling and dealing in their search for hitters. Aside from Giancarlo Stanton, who is not expected to be traded, the Marlins don't have substantial power, but they're not looking exclusively for home run threats, either.

"I don't think it's necessarily power that we are going to be focused on," Hill said. "It's going to be run production. We need to score more runs. Whatever form that comes in, that is our goal."

Players who may fit the mold could be gap or high-batting-average hitters.

"If it is utilizing our spacious gaps, then it could be a high doubles guy, who can drive in runs and maintain a high average," Hill said. "We're in search of increased run production. I think that is paramount in us moving forward."

The GM Meetings have traditionally marked the unofficial launch of the Hot Stove season, though they aren't necessarily where trades or free-agent signings occur. Often seeds are planted for deals that end up being completed later in the offseason.

The Marlins' 12-player mega-deal with the Blue Jays was first discussed at the 2012 GM Meetings. A few weeks later, Miami sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto for seven players, including Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis.

The Marlins are now building around a young core of players and are open to being creative in discussing trade options.

"It's to be determined how active we'll be," Hill said of this year's meetings. "It will be the first opportunity for us to get face time with our counterparts in the game and assess what their needs are, and to see if we match up on anything. But we're looking forward to getting together with them and seeing what we can do to improve our ballclub."

The Marlins are in the market for a catcher and third baseman, but they are not limiting themselves to those two positions. Their best trade pieces are some of their young pitchers, although promising left-hander Andrew Heaney, the club's top pitching prospect, is not regarded as available.

"Pitching is the hardest commodity to acquire," Hill said. "We know that. We do have somewhat of a surplus of upper-level starting pitching. We don't want to completely weaken ourselves. We're mindful that once it's gone, it's gone, but we also know you have to give to get in this industry.

"We're going to try to be creative in our discussions, and hopefully, in the deals that we make to upgrade our roster, we will be able to maintain as much depth as we possibly can. If we're talking about any type of deal with our premium [pitchers], we definitely need to be sure it is something that is going to help us in the near term and long term."

Starting pitching is Miami's strength. Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi and Alvarez make up a solid top three, and Jacob Turner, 22, has shown signs that he can be effective middle-of-the-rotation candidate. Tom Koehler is a hard thrower who offers versatility either as a starter or a reliever.

Hill noted that the team is open to adding a veteran starter to complement its young staff. Kevin Slowey, a non-roster invitee a year ago, provided an experienced presence in the rotation the first couple of months of 2013.

"We've talked about that, just because our pitching staff is relatively young," Hill said. "Last year, Kevin Slowey was a tremendous influence on our young guys, just in his professionalism and how he handled himself.

"I'm not sure what shape or form that type of pitcher will come in, be it a starter or a reliever. But that type of influence we definitely want to have as part of the roster."

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.