The Miami Marlins may have stripped down their payroll, but they are continuing to bring in players with major league experience. Granted, they are not making high-profile moves like signing Jose Reyes and Heath Bell.
In the winter between 2012 and 2013, the Marlins seem focused on low-risk players with big league experience who can play several positions. The same week that utility infielder Nick Green and outfielder/pinch-hitter Austin Kearns signed minor league deals (via Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post), the Marlins are now close to bringing Matt Downs aboard in the same manner with an invitation to spring training (according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.)
In 2012, he was a part-time player for the Houston Astros where he batted just .202 with eight homers and 16 RBI. In 2011, he fared better with 10 homers and an OPS of .864 in a limited role for Houston.
Essentially, he adds value, like Green, to the Miami roster because of the flexibility he gives manager Mike Redmond.
In his four seasons as a big leaguer, he has started 10 or more games at second base, third base, first base and right field. And with the Marlins playing as many green (young, not Nick) players, that versatility can only help the team ride through slumps and growing pains.
These moves by the Marlins may not be as headline worthy as the smoke-filled introductions before the 2012 season. But in the end, they may make more sense.