Casey McGehee, who spent last season playing in Japan, has played with the Cubs, Brewers Pirates and Yankees.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport/USA TODAY Sports
After weeks of tossing names around, the Marlins decided on a third baseman, signing Casey McGehee to a one-year deal Wednesday afternoon.
According to president of baseball operations Michael Hill, the club left the winter meetings in Orlando believing it was in its best interest to pursue McGehee rather than acquiring a third-base candidate via trade and giving up young pitching.
Hill had spoken to a number of sources and contacts in Japan who were able to see McGehee play in the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball and offered positive evaluations.
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“I think in the end when we got an opportunity to dig into who Casey was as a player and person, we felt like it made more sense to go in that direction,” Hill said. “Unbelievable year in Japan, but even before he went to Japan he’s a guy that’s a tremendous teammate and leader of men on clubs wherever he’s been.”
McGehee played for Tohoku Rakuten last season, batting .292 with 28 home runs, 30 doubles and 93 RBI in 144 regular-season games. The 31-year-old hit .289 in 11 postseason games for the Golden Eagles, who beat Yomiuri in the Japan Series for their first championship.
Prior to his stint in Japan, McGehee spent parts of five seasons in the Majors with the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates and Yankees.
Selected in the 10th round of the 2003 draft by the Cubs, he made his big-league debut as a September call-up in 2008. The Brewers claimed him off waivers that offseason.
McGehee averaged 17 homers and 79 RBI in three seasons with Milwaukee from 2009-11, including a career year in 2010 when he hit .285 with 23 home runs and 104 RBI in 157 games.
In 2012, he totaled nine homers and 41 RBI in 114 games between Pittsburgh and New York, spending just two months with the Yankees.
“I wasn’t really sure going into the process what kind of options I was going to be looking at,” McGehee said. “I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen. The back of my mind I was looking at it and hoping the Marlins would show some interest because it looked like a situation that would be good for both sides.”
Once the Marlins expressed interest, McGehee said “it was a pretty easy decision for me.”
Miami entered the hot stove season looking for a stopgap for Colin Moran, who hit .230 with three doubles and 10 RBI in 22 games in the Arizona Fall League.
The 21-year-old was selected sixth overall in this year’s draft out of the University of North Carolina.
“We didn’t want to rush him,” Hill said of Moran. “We want to give him the time that he needs to develop, so that we feel he’s ready to produce at the major-league level. … There’s nothing that we have seen that leads us to believe he’s not going to be a productive player.”
Earlier this offseason the Marlins signed veteran free agents Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rafael Furcal and Garrett Jones to fill holes at catcher, second base and first base, respectively.
Last week Miami made a couple of deals, acquiring right-handed reliever Carter Capps from the Mariners for Logan Morrison and outfielder Brian Bogusevic from the Cubs for Justin Ruggiano.
In a corresponding move to free up space on the 40-man roster, the Marlins designated catcher Kyle Skipworth, a former first-round pick, for assignment.
“We felt like bringing that type of person and player on our club to go along with some of our other moves is just consistent of what we’re trying to do this offseason,” Hill said. “(Not just) upgrading the talent on the field but bringing players with that winning mentality and competitiveness.”