Third Base remains one of the biggest question marks for the Miami Marlins heading into the 2013 season. As of now, there is no clear sign of who will man the position on Opening Day nor is the field of competitors set. Following the trade of Hanley Ramirez in 2012, the Marlins were left to patch things up at third. It’s a decision that can go a lot of ways and have a tremendous impact on the team’s success or failure.
The Marlins are not expected to be big spenders this off-season after a very active Winter last year. Even if the team changes that plan and spends money, there simply aren’t that many appealing free agents out there at third base. The biggest name available would be Kevin Youkilis but he may not be a great fit in Miami especially if his price tag is as high as some expect. The Chicago White Sox recently declined their $13 million option on Youkilis making him a free agent but the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have both been mentioned as landing spots. With those larger market teams involved, it’s unlikely the Marlins would get into a bidding war for the former Red Sox star. Placido Polanco is another big name third basemen on the market but his price may also be too high for Marlins.
Another route the Marlins could go is using players already in the system. Zack Cox who was acquired for Edward Mujica last season may be an option if he has a big Spring in Jupiter. Cox finished out 2012 in AA for the Marlins but is expected to be given a fair amount of playing time in Spring Training to possibly win the job on Opening Day. Even if Cox fails to secure the spot on day one, an impressive Spring could have him taking over the hot corner sometime in 2013. Bearing in mind Cox is close to being big league ready, Miami may opt to go with a player such as Greg Dobbs at 3B until that time comes. The issue with giving the gig to Dobbs is it would cost the bench it’s biggest weapon. Another player in the system to keep an eye on is Kevin Kouzmanoff who the Marlins recently signed to a minor league deal. With a good Spring, the job could be handed to Kevin Kouzmanoff until Cox is ready to take it over full time.
There is always the chance the Marlins go with the third option which is a trade. That could be easier said than done though as Miami lacks many trading chips. With what the team would be willing to trade, it is likely the return they’d get would be as productive as their in-house options. If the Marlins elect to trade Josh Johnson who is entering the final year of his contract, it’s possible they could get a talented third basemen in return. It remains unlikely however that the team trades their ace away before the season.