Not a day went by during professional baseball’s Winter Meetings when the Marlins failed to make some kind of move, be it a trade or free agent signing, and Thursday was no exception.
The Marlins wrapped up what was an active week for them by trading outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Brian Bogusevic. It was effectively a swap of backup outfielders.
“Really, Bogusevic is a younger version of Ruggiano just in terms of their skill sets,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.
“He can play all three outfield positions and will fill the role that we had identified for Ruggiano.”
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And that role was to serve as a backup to a starting outfield trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna.
Only the Marlins didn’t want to spend the approximately $1.5 million Ruggiano is projected to receive in arbitration on a player coming off the bench.
Bogusevic will likely cost the Marlins little more than the league minimum of $500,000.
“It just allows us to reallocate those dollars,” Hill said of the difference in salary between the two players. “Given the fact we’re going to go with the kids in the outfield as everyday players, we didn't want to allocate dollars that we had in that role on Ruggiano. We wanted to spend it elsewhere.”
Hill also said that the Marlins “felt like Ruggiano’s power probably wouldn’t play out as well in a reserve role. So we wanted to get a more functional bat.”
Bogusevic, a former first-round draft pick, bats left-handed, is a career .236 hitter in four seasons with the Astros and Cubs.
“Defensively, he’s a solid average defender, if not the same as Ruggiano, maybe a tick better,” Hill said.
The Ruggiano trade came one day after the Marlins dealt first baseman Logan Morrison to Seattle for right-handed reliever Carter Capps. The trade is contingent on the completion of physicals. Morrison traveled to Seattle on Thursday for his physical exam.
There was little down time for the Marlins during the annual gathering of baseball’s movers and shakers. They brought in catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for an introductory press conference Monday and announced the signing of free agent first baseman Garrett Jones on Tuesday.
The Marlins also have signed veteran infielder Rafael Furcal to help bolster a last-place team that lost 100 games this past season.
The Marlins are still trying to acquire a third baseman.
“We still have work to do,” Hill said. “I think we've done a lot to re-shape our roster and to prepare us for 2014. Are we finished? No. But I think we’ve changed the look of this roster from 2013 and added pieces that we think will help us win more games in ’14.”
Hill said he is especially pleased that the Marlins have not had to dip into their “inventory of starting pitching” as trade pieces, at least not yet.