December 2009

MLB Network highlighting Marlins

The Marlins will be featured on Monday at 6 p.m. ET on the MLB Network’s “30 Clubs, 30 Recaps.”

The segment will air during “Hot Stove” Monday.

The recap will review the Marlins 2009 season, and break down the team.

MLB Network’s Victor Rojas, Harold Reynolds, Dan Plesac and Tom Verducci will offer their insights and observations during the show.

— Joe Frisaro




Richar signs Minor League deal

If Alfredo Amezaga opts to sign with another club, the Marlins have another possible all-purpose utility replacement.

The Marlins recently signed Danny Richar to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The 26-year-old is signed for a basic Minor League contract. He will make $12,000 a month if he is in the Minor Leagues, and $410,000 if he makes the big league club.

A natural middle infielder, Richar is versatile enough to also play third base and outfield.

In 2009, he appeared in seven games for the Reds, and he has 79 big league games of experience over three seasons. In 2007, he saw action in 56 games with the White Sox.

— Joe Frisaro



Nolasco agrees for $3.8 million

Ricky Nolasco, who started on Opening Day this past season, has reached agreement on a one-year, $3.8 million contract, avoiding arbitration.

In his second year of arbitration, Nolasco is coming off an up-and-down campaign where he finished 13-9 with a 5.06 ERA.

“Ricky was dominant at times in 2009, and I think you’re going to see Ricky have a really, really good year in 2010,” said Matt Sosnick, Nolasco’s agent.

The 27-year-old right-hander, who made $2.4 million this past year, struck out 195 in 185 innings.

Sosnick also represents Josh Johnson. And while there is an impassed to secure a multiyear deal with Florida, Sosnick hasn’t ruled out an agreement eventually being reached to keep Johnson with the Marlins for at least a few more seasons.

“We’re doing everything we can to try to bridge the gap, and get a deal done,” Sosnick said. “And we’re wanting to do something that will keep J.J. in Florida for the long term.”

— Joe Frisaro



Marlins scouting Chapman

On a rare occasion will the Marlins find themselves bidding along with teams like the payroll-rich Red Sox.

So that tells you something about how rare a prospect Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman is.

The hard-throwing left-hander, who pitched for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, will throw for big league scouts in Houston. A representative from the Marlins is on hand, as are officials from numerous other teams.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Dan Jennings, the Marlins vice president of player personnel, is in Houston to watch Chapman. confirmed Florida has more than a passing interest. The team will evaluate him, and then look to see if signing Chapman is a possibility.

With a large Cuban population in South Florida, Chapman would naturally have wide appeal in the Miami area. His price tag, however, won’t be cheap. The Red Sox reportedly made a $15.5 million offer, which is regarded as the low-bar figure.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Chapman has had his fastball clocked at 102 mph. No matter which team he signs with, chances are he will open in Double-A before being promoted to the big leagues.

— Joe Frisaro


Hensley agrees, four Minor Leaguers sign

The Marlins on Monday reached agreement on a Minor League deal with right-hander Clay Hensley, who was 8-4 with a 3.24 ERA at Triple-A New Orleans this year.

Additionally, the club signed four players to Minor League contracts with Spring Training invitations. Infielders Brian Barden and Donnie Murphy signed, as did right-handers Scott Strickland and Matt Peterson.

Hensley has 106 games of big league experience. His last stint in the Majors was in 2008 with the Padres. The 30-year-old right-hander opened this year with Houston’s Round Rock Triple-A team, before he was picked up by the Marlins. He made 19 starts at New Orleans.

Barden, 28, appeared in 52 games for the Cardinals in 2009, and he added 61 games at Triple-A Memphis. He’s seen action in 84 big league games. He can play all four infield positions. Murphy also is a versatile infielder who has played second base, shortstop and third base. The 26-year-old broke in with the Royals in 2004.

Strickland, 33, last pitched in the big leagues with Houston in 2005, and he has 236 games of experience. He spent 2009 pitching for Triple-A Albuquerque in the Dodgers’ system, where he made 50 relief appearances. He had a 2.98 ERA.

Peterson is a 27-year-old who has never pitched in the big leagues. The right-hander was with Double-A Jacksonville, where he logged 56 games.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins interested in Capps

Affordability is key for any established free agent the Marlins pursue.

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Marlins are among a growing list of teams coveting reliever Matt Capps. The Rangers, Rockies, Cardinals, Cubs and Diamondbacks also are listed as potential suitors.

There are strong indications the Marlins are indeed exploring signing Capps, but cost will be a factor. Non-tendered by Pittsburgh on Saturday, Capps made $2.425 million in 2009. There is a belief that his dollar figure could again be in that neighborhood, or perhaps slightly less. If so, the right-hander could fit into Florida’s budget.

The Marlins expressed interest in Capps last season in trade talks. And the team could offer him the opportunity to compete with Leo Nunez for the closer spot.

Upgrading the bullpen is a high priority for the Marlins.

— Joe Frisaro


Marlins non-tender; Paulino agrees

It was a difficult decision, but one the Marlins felt they had to make because the risk was too high.

On Saturday night, the club opted to non-tender versatile Alfredo Amezaga, making the 31-year-old a free agent.

With less than 30 minutes before the 11:59 p.m. ET tender deadline, the club announced it reached contract agreement with catcher Ronny Paulino for the 2010 season.

The Marlins tendered their remaining eight arbitration-eligible players — Josh Johnson, Cody Ross, Ricky Nolasco, Jorge Cantu, Dan Uggla, Leo Nunez, Renyel Pinto and Anibal Sanchez.

Amezaga has yet to begin running after undergoing microfracture knee surgery over the summer. The uncertainty over his knee made tendering him a contract too risky. So the Marlins are cutting ties with one of the top utility players in the big leagues.

Knee problems limited Amezaga to 27 games and 69 at-bats in 2009. The veteran made $1.3 million this past season, and if he were tendered a contract, his salary would again have exceeded $1 million.

The hope is that he will be ready for Spring Training, but there still is a medical risk for the natural middle infielder, who also is an above average fielding outfielder.

The Marlins can still try to re-sign Amezaga, but now he is on the open market.

— Joe Frisaro


Gload heading to Phillies

Add left-handed bat off the bench to the Marlins’ needs.

Late Tuesday night, veteran Ross Gload agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Phillies.

A free agent, the 33-year-old first baseman was an effective pinch-hitter and spot starter in his lone season with the Marlins. Gload had 21 pinch-hits and 15 pinch-hit RBIs, both Marlins records for a season.

The left-handed hitting Gload was also a strong defensive first baseman, and he can also play both corner outfield spots.

In 125 games, Gload batted .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs. He even was an emergency pitcher on May 22, tossing one scoreless inning against Tampa Bay.

The Marlins acquired Gload and cash from the Royals on April 1 for a player to be named, who became right-hand prospect Eric Basurto.

Gload broke in with the Cubs in 2000, and he also played for the Rockies and White Sox.

In Philadelphia, the likely will fill the pinch-hit role that Matt Stairs held.

The Marlins had a two-year, $1.9 million offer on the table for Gload, who also attracted interest from the Braves.

In early November, the Marlins turned down a $2.6 million club option on Gload, making him a free agent.

— Joe Frisaro


Still hopeful to sign J.J. long-term

Efforts to reach a multi-year contract with Josh Johnson may have broken down a few weeks ago, but don’t rule out the Marlins trying to re-open negotiations.

Retaining Johnson for the long-term is an objective the Marlins would like to achieve.

One of the top right-handers in the National League, Johnson will turn 26 in January. He comes off a 15-5 season with a 3.23 ERA.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pounder was selected to the All-Star Game for the first time. The Marlins are open to working out a multi-year contract that would cover at least one year of potential free agency for the right-hander.

Johnson, who made $1.4 million in his first year of arbitration, could make around $4.2 million in 2010. He has two more seasons of arbitration before reaching free agency after 2011.

It’s also possible that even if Johnson signs a one-year deal for 2010 that the team would be open to work out an extension.

While there has been trade speculation regarding Johnson, the Marlins are determined not to trade their ace.

Johnson and Ricky Nolasco, also the subject of trade speculation, are locks to be at the front of Florida’s rotation in 2010. Florida has no intention to move either one.

Nolasco, also in his second season of arbitration, is projected to make close to $4 million.

— Joe Frisaro



Uggla a possibility in Baltimore

Count the Orioles in the mix for Dan Uggla.

Among the teams the Marlins have had at least preliminary discussions about Uggla are the Orioles.

The Marlins are believed to be seeking pitching prospects in return for their two-time All-Star second baseman.

Along with Baltimore, the Giants remain interested in the 29-year-old who is coming off a season where he belted 31 home runs and drove in 90.

With Brian Roberts at second base in Baltimore, Uggla would be a candidate to switch to third base, a position he hasn’t played in four big league seasons. Uggla played third base in the Minor Leagues.

Indications at the Winter Meetings were that Uggla will wind up with an American League club, unless a deal with the Giants can be worked out. There also is a feeling that there aren’t too many club seriously interested in Uggla, a former Rule 5 claim from Arizona.

Ideally, the Marlins would like to deal Uggla at the Winter Meetings, but the team is prepared to hang on to the slugger for at least a few more weeks if their isn’t a fit that makes sense.

Earlier in the day on Monday, Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said the team had not yet had discussions with the Marlins about Uggla.

Marlins officials arrived in Indianapolis later in the afternoon and in the early evening, and the organization began measuring interest in Uggla later in the night.

The Marlins also are in discussions with multiple clubs, as many as 10, for relievers Renyel Pinto and Matt Lindstrom.

— Joe Frisaro