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MLB Trade Rumors: Should the Marlins Trade For James Shields?

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Buster Olney reported on Sunday that the Marlins are considering making a run at Rays starter 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.

This rumored deal makes sense for both teams, as the Marlins need a #2 starter behind ace Josh Johnson, while the Rays could use Morrison at first base, assuming Casey Kotchman is not brought back, or left field, assuming B.J. Upton is traded this offseason. An Upton trade would push outfield prospect Desmond Jennings to center field, opening a spot for Morrison in left field.

Morrison has had his share of run-ins with the Marlins front office this season ranging from his use of Twitter to not appearing at a team function with season ticket holders. What leads me to believe the Marlins may actually pursue this deal is the talk that shortstop Hanley Ramirez may move off of shortstop in 2012.

More on the Marlins-Rays rumored deal after the jump:

Should the Marlins look to deal Morrison for Shields, they could slide Ramirez to left field, and possibly pursue Mets shortstop Jose Reyes in the free agent market this offseason. The Marlins are moving into a new stadium, and they want to make sure they can sell plenty of suites and season tickets. One way to do that is to sign a star like Jose Reyes to play shortstop. This move would do three things for the Marlins: 1) increase ticket sales, 2) give the Marlins a solid leadoff hitter, 3) improve their infield defense, as Hanley was not known for his play in the field.

The move makes sense for the Rays as well, as they have the best pitching prospect in baseball in Matt Moore ready to replace Shields in the Rays rotation, and he has nothing left to prove in AAA. Plus, Shields contract bumps up from $4.25 million to $7 million in 2012, to a $9 million club option in 2013 and a $12 million club option in 2014. The Rays 2011 opening day payroll was just $42 million, so assuming payroll stays constant in 2012, paying one player more than 20% of your total payroll does not make sense for a small market team like the Rays.

This deal is a win-win as it fills a need for both teams. Shields fantasy value probably increases more than Morrison's, moving from the AL East to the NL East. Shields had his best season of his career in 2011, going 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA, 3.42 FIP and 3.25 xFIP, but benefited from a career high strand rate of almost 80%.

Shields would join a rotation that includes Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and possibly Javier Vazquez, if he decides not to retire.His presence in the Marlins rotation, along with a healthy Josh Johnson, would give the Marlins one of the better starting rotations in the National League, and probably better than the Braves in the competitive NL East.