The Marlins already boasted the strongest slugger in the majors in Giancarlo Stanton.
Now they have the swiftest player, as well.
The Marlins on Wednesday pulled off a major trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, acquiring second baseman Dee Gordon — the majors’ stolen base king — in exchange for four players, including top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney. The Dodgers later traded Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick.
In addition to Gordon, the Marlins also obtained veteran starting pitcher Dan Haren, though it’s possible he might never throw a pitch for Miami. The 34-year-old right-hander had said previously he would rather retire than be traded to a team outside of Southern California, where he is from.
"I have been notified of the trade to Miami," Haren said. "My strong desire to remain in southern California has been well-documented. I will have to evaluate my options carefully before making any decisions."
However, it was Gordon — an All-Star last season with the Dodgers — the Marlins most coveted.
The 26-year-old second baseman gives the Marlins a lightning quick presence at the top of their lineup, following in the footsteps of speed merchants from Marlins teams of yore, such as Chuck Carr, Luis Castillo and Juan Pierre.
The trade, which was not announced officially, was confirmed by several sources. But speaking in general terms on Tuesday, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said that speed was an asset the team wanted for the lineup to go with Stanton’s strength.
“I’ve said in the past that we like the speed component in our club,” Hill explained to reporters. “I would like more. We’ve always liked the component, so we’re exploring those types of options.”
On Wednesday, the third day of the Winter Meetings, the Marlins worked out the deal with the Dodgers, reeling in Gordon and Haren for Heaney, infielder Kike Hernandez, reliever Chris Hatcher and minor-league catcher Austin Barnes. Also heading to the Marlins from the Dodgers is backup infielder Miguel Rojas.
Sources said the Marlins were also receiving cash from the Dodgers to cover the $10 million Haren is due to make in 2015. The Marlins will get that money whether Haren retires or not. Sources said the Dodgers also agreed to pick up Gordon’s projected salary of about $2.5 million, which he is expected to receive through arbitration.
In his 12 big-league seasons, Haren has a career record of 142-122. In 32 starts last season for the Dodgers, he went 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA.
He told ESPN.com last month, though, that he would likely retire if traded to a team outside of California.
“My signing with the Dodgers last year and my decision to exercise my player option were based on my desire to play in Southern California near my family,” Haren told ESPN in an email. “I had other opportunities, but at this point in my career, I have no interest in playing in a city away from my family.”
The Marlins are giving up two highly regarded prospects in Heaney and Barnes. But they’re receiving a young second baseman who is in his first year of salary arbitration and would not become a free agent until after the 2018 season.
Though there are obvious concerns about his relatively low on-base percentage, Gordon provides the Marlins with a leadoff hitter, allowing Christian Yelich to drop into the No. 2 spot in front of Stanton.
Gordon, 26, was an All-Star last season with the Dodgers, leading the league in stolen bases (64) and triples (12) while hitting .289.
Gordon is a converted shortstop, and the reports on his defense are strong.
The Marlins likely aren’t done shopping.
Due to Haren’s uncertain status, they’ll likely continue looking for rotation help.
They’re also working hard to acquire a first baseman, either through a trade or free agent signing. One potential trade target: Colorado’s Justin Morneau.
According to sources, the Marlins intend to use the money they receive from the Dodgers — more than $12 million — and spend it on acquiring a first baseman and pitcher.