In his Sunday column over at ESPN, Buster Olney passed along a juicy tidbit concerning the Florida (erm, Miami) Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher James Shields:
Heard this: Among the possibilities the Marlins are considering is a serious run at James Shields -- and they have some natural matchup on a trade, because they could dangle Logan Morrison as part of any package for the right-hander.
Considering this rumor comes so early in the offseason, odds are that nothing comes of it. However, if the Marlins are looking to add starting pitching, then the Rays would make perfect sense as a trade partner. They have a wide collection of affordable starting pitchers and need to trade at least one this offseason to create room for top prospect Matt Moore. Also, the Rays desperately need to add more offense, and Logan Morrison would be exactly what they're looking for: a cost-controlled impact bat.
But would a Shields-LoMo trade make sense for both sides? As I stated over at DRaysBay, SB Nation's Rays blog, the Marlins would need to include more in the package to get Shields. The Rays traded starter Edwin Jackson for Matt Joyce back in 2008, and Joyce is a very similar player to Morrison:
In his age 23 season, Matt Joyce hit 12 homers in 277 plate appearances and posted a .355 wOBA. He had a walk rate similar to Morrison's (around 10-11%), and he struck out just a tad more. The Rays ended up acquiring him for Edwin Jackson, and we all know how Joyce has progressed since then. He's a powerful hitter and one the Rays' best offensive weapons.
Meanwhile, in his age 23 season, Logan Morrison hit 23 home runs in 525 plate appearances and posted a .344 wOBA. Even if you don't expect his power to regress going forward, his hitting profile looks very similar to Matt Joyce: above-average power and plate discipline (10% walk rate) from the left-hand side. Joyce strikes out a tad more often, but he also runs the bases better and plays better defense.
So the Marlins can try and acquire Shields, but they would likely have to give up even more than Morrison to make it happen. Either that or they could instead focus on one of the Rays' other starting pitchers like Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis, and ask for the Rays to toss in a bit extra to the package.
But the Rays and Marlins do seem like natural trade partners, so this will be an interesting rumor to follow as the offseason develops. If you'd like updates to this story as they happen, follow along with SB Nation Tampa Bay on either Facebook or Twitter.