It’s been a revolving door of third basemen for the Marlins ever since they traded Miguel Cabrera after the 2007 season. Casey McGehee is poised to become the latest player to take a spin at the hot corner.
The Marlins signed the 31-year-old free agent Wednesday to a one-year contract as their offseason roster restructuring continued. The deal calls for him to make $1.1 million and includes bonus incentives.
“I was hoping the Marlins would show some interest, because it looked like a situation that would be good for both sides,” McGehee said. “Once they showed some interest, it was a pretty easy decision for me.”
McGehee, 31, spent five seasons in the majors — primarily with the Milwaukee Brewers — before spending this past season in Japan, where he hit .289 with 27 homers and 90 RBI in 137 games for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. His best season in the majors came in 2010 with the Brewers when he hit 23 homers and drove in 104 runs.
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But he tailed off at the plate in subsequent years, hitting just .217 with nine homers in 2012 with the Pirates and Yankees and precipitating his move to Japan. McGehee said playing in Japan helped get him back on track. He blamed his woes in the majors on trying “to hit the ball out of the park too much.”
“I committed to being really stubborn in my approach at the plate,” McGehee said of his experience in Japan. “I started to realize the home runs and the power numbers showed up a lot better when I wasn’t going up there with that as the sole purpose of my at-bats.”
The Marlins are hoping McGehee continues to swing a hot bat as they look to improve upon last season’s scoring impotency. His signing is the latest move in a lineup overhaul in which the Marlins have now acquired four new starting position players.
In addition to McGehee, the Marlins also have signed a catcher (Jarrod Saltalamacchia), first baseman (Garrett Jones) and second baseman (Rafael Furcal).
Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said there were “numerous discussions” with other teams about trading for a third baseman and likely giving up one of the organization’s young pitchers in any such deal. But it was decided to acquire a stopgap at the position while the franchise waits for third baseman Colin Moran to develop in the minors. Moran was the team’s first-round draft pick last summer.
“Moran definitely had an influence in our decision-making process,” Hill said. “Obviously, we invested a lot in him with the sixth pick overall. We wanted to give him the time he needs to develop.”
Third base has been a sore spot for the Marlins ever since Cabrera was traded. They have used five primary third basemen — Jorge Cantu, Emilio Bonifacio, Greg Dobbs, Hanley Ramirez and Placido Polanco — since that deal with Detroit.