Center of attention: Marlins focus foremost on center field
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
WEST PALM BEACH — All options are on the table, but the Marlins absolute preference is to acquire a true center fielder.
General manager Kim Ng made that clear while addressing the Marlins’ media on Friday night.
“I think, ideally, we want a center fielder who is an offensive threat,” Ng said between innings of the Marlins’ Grapefruit League game with the Washington Nationals at The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches. “That would be our primary objective. If you can’t, and that’s not attainable, you’re not going to mortgage the future for one [player], then I think you have to go to Plan B. In Plan B, there are some good offensive players out there on the market.”
The Marlins remain active in the free agent and trade markets, as they look to add that final piece before Opening Day, which is just less than three weeks away.
“You can’t rush it,” Ng said. “You can’t force it. We have to have a good understanding of where the market is. And make sure that we’re making good decisions.”
Ng didn’t mention any names, but sources have said the Marlins are high on Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds. Indications are he would be the top priority. Still, there are several other options, including Oakland Athletics’ Ramon Laureano.
Landing an All-Star like Reynolds promise to cost Top 10 ranked prospects, perhaps Max Meyer, JJ Bleday and Edward Cabrera, among others.
The Marlins also have been in discussions with free agents, including Nick Castellanos and Michael Conforto. Both are represented by Scott Boras.
But their pursuit of Castellanos ended on Friday night when the South Florida native agreed to a five-year, $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
“It’s just something that is fluid,” Ng said.
Calls have been mixed on free agents and trade possibilities.
“I think it depends on which day you’re talking about,” she said. “I would say right now, they’re probably neck-and-neck, even between free agents and trades.”
In camp, the Marlins don’t have a true center fielder. Avisail Garcia is one possibility, but ideally, the club would prefer him in right field. Jesus Sanchez could play center, as can Bryan De La Cruz and Jon Berti.
Monte Harrison is no longer a candidate after he was designated for assignment on Friday.
Less than a week into Spring Training, the Marlins remain patient, and are looking for the right fit.
“I don’t ever want to force it, because you might miss out on something, if you force something,” Ng said. “I’ve seen plenty of deals get done late in Spring Training.”
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