The Marlins are in the midst of their latest fire sale, but they didn't dump every player making money just yet. They still have pitcher Ricky Nolasco and outfielder Logan Morrison on the roster. Well, for now, anyway:
Several GMs expect #Marlins to trade Ricky Nolasco. Marlins also shopping Logan Morrison— Joe Capozzi (@joecapMARLINS) November 14, 2012
The Red Sox could use another starting pitcher, and they have holes both in the outfield and at first base, two positions Morrison can play. Well, theoretically play, as he's painful to watch defensively in the outfield. That leaves first base, but also opens up the question of whether he can hit enough there to merit playing the position. Nolasco is in the same hypothetical boat, as his position is starting pitcher, and it's been his job for years now, but a guy with an 87 ERA+, 4.68 ERA, and a homer per nine allowed despite pitcher-friendly environments in the weaker league is not exactly an ideal fit for Boston's rotation.
Boston could shop for just Morrison, but there are a few things to consider. For the expensive contracts of Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson, contracts the Marlins were dying to be rid of, they requested Boston send Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, Felix Doubront, and more to Miami. For Morrison, who is pre-arbitration eligible now, and not a free agent until 2017 at the earliest, they are likely to once again ask for a whole lot in return, likely more than Morrison is worth to Boston or in a vacuum.
The reason behind that, other than that the Marlins want to extract every ounce of value they can out of their traded commodities, is because they can package Nolasco with Morrison somewhere, reducing the prospect package, but ridding themselves of the $11.5 million remaining on his contract for 2013. That's what they did with the Blue Jays this week, as they received a lesser package from Toronto in return for even more players than Johnson and Reyes. Why? Because Toronto was willing to take on the salaries and roster spots of Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck.
Do the Red Sox need Morrison so much that it's worth bringing on Ricky Nolasco? Your answer is a resounding, emphatic "No." If they can get Morrison by himself? Well, it all depends on the price, but it's very likely the Red Sox could do better by just paying someone like Mike Napoli to play first for them.
Morrison hit .283/.390/.447 as a 22-year-old rookie back in 2010. With that on-base percentage, he could certainly fit on the Sox, even at first base. The problem is that Morrison has hit poorly enough since then that his career line is now .250/.339/.442, and despite his youth, has already dealt with knee problems for two seasons, problems that ended in surgery this past September. The Red Sox would be taking on a player with promise, yes, but also one with knee issues who has missed time in each of the last four seasons -- in 2009 and 2010, it was a thumb fracture and shoulder soreness, respectively, that cost him a combined 86 days.
Morrison was twice a top-20 prospect according to Baseball America, in large part due to quality on-base percentages. More power than he's shown isn't expected based on his track record in both the majors and minors, but he doesn't need it if he walks often. That being said, if he's not hitting for a ton of power, he needs to keep his batting average up, and he hasn't done that the last two years. Health problems, potential offensive issues, and a lack of defensive ability that restricts him to first, where his bat might not play? That sounds like a cue for the Red Sox to shop elsewhere, with or without Nolasco attached, unless the Marlins are planning on just giving him away for less than expected.