The Marlins are going retro this week.
But they’re not going back to last year, when they sent shockwaves through the baseball world by going hog wild at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, signing Jose Reyes and Heath Bell.
And they’re not going back to 2006, the last time baseball’s annual grand gathering was held in Nashville.
That year, the Marlins traded Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis in a deal that has proved to be a monumental bust for them.
“I don’t think about it like: ‘Oh God, we’re going back to Nashville. That’s where we made the Miguel/Dontrelle trade,’ ” said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.
Nope. This time, the Marlins will likely lie low, like they’ve typically done in the past. They’ll let the usual suspects like the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox make all the big headlines while they’ll go about their business with low-level, under-the-radar moves.
“I think last year was special in that it was just unique,” Beinfest said. “The free agent pursuit. The public nature of the free agent pursuit. The signings of the free agents. I’ve never really been through a Winter Meetings like that. And I would assume that this year, in contrast, will be much like the other 20-plus that I’ve been a part of.”
Big work done
The Marlins ended up spending more than $190 million on a trio of free agents — Reyes, Bell and Mark Buehrle — last winter. Now, after one failed season in their new ballpark, all three are gone and they’re off the hook for a big chunk of their salaries.
The Marlins are rebuilding with cheap, young talent.
After completing their 12-player trade with Toronto last month that unloaded millions in salary obligations, Beinfest said the Marlins were within their budgeted payroll range for 2013. Bottom line: Don’t expect them to shell out big bucks in Nashville this week like they did in Dallas a year ago.
“Are we talking about huge free agents?” Beinfest said. “I’m not sure that’s the plan right now.”
So just what is the plan?
Beinfest said the goal now is to add “depth,” meaning the Marlins will likely look for bargain finds to fill out their bullpen and bench. Beinfest said he would like to find a right-handed hitter off the bench to complement Greg Dobbs. The Marlins are among a handful of teams that has spoken to free agent utility man Ryan Raburn about that role.
They’ll also comb through the list of arbitration-eligible players who were not tendered contracts by their teams at Friday’s deadline and became free agents. The Marlins are also preparing for Thursday’s Rule V draft, looking for hidden gems in what amounts to baseball’s version of a garage sale.
It was in the 2005 Rule V draft that the Marlins found Dan Uggla.
One Marlin who is certain to generate plenty of rumors is Giancarlo Stanton. But the Marlins have no intention of trading their slugger.
“Our plans for him in ’13 are to be our right fielder and to be in the middle of our lineup,” Beinfest said.