December 2011

Marlins targeting Garza?

MIAMI — Toss Matt Garza’s name into the mix of possible Miami trade targets.

Acquiring another frontline starting pitcher remains a priority, and reportedly Garza fits the mold.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com claims the Marlins have “serious interest” in Garza. No deal is close, but the interest makes sense.

To seriously compete in the NL East, the Marlins are looking for as much starting pitching depth as possible. They’ve already signed free agent Mark Buehrle, and they made a strong push for C.J. Wilson, who eventually signed with the Angels.

Miami also pushed hard for Gio Gonzalez, who ended up being traded from the A’s to the Nationals.

Garza, 28, is projected to make between $9-10 million in arbitration in 2012, and he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.

The Cubs reportedly are seeking a trade package similiar to the deals that sent Mat Latos from the Padres to the Reds and Gonzalez to Washington.

There is stiff competition for Garza, who also is being coveted by the Yankees and Blue Jays.

The Cubs are looking for top prospects, and the Marlins are willing to part with some of their high-end young talent for an established starter.

Outfielder Christian Yelich, part of low Class A Greensboro’s championship team, is highly coveted.

The Marlins have made it clear that Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are off limits, but they would be willing to move other young players, if the deal made sense.

Joe Frisaro

Keeping Dobbs a top priority

MIAMI — Exploring the market for a frontline starting pitcher is high on the Marlins’ shopping list.

But it’s not the club’s most immediate priority.

Right now, bringing back free agent Greg Dobbs is a main objective, and the team is hoping to finalize a deal done soon.

In 2011, Dobbs provided veteran leadership as well as some timely hits. Of late, the Marlins have been working on getting a deal done.

If they can lock up Dobbs before New Years, it would cap a highly productive month of December for the Marlins.

The Marlins made a big splash early in the month by signing free agents Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.

Dobbs, a non-roster invitee with an invitation to Spring Training last year, enjoyed a highly productive 2011.

Initially, the 33-year-old was used as a left-handed bat off the bench, but he ended up getting regular playing time, mainly at third base.

He batted .275 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs in 411 at-bats.

As a pinch-hitter, Dobbs made a big impact, posting a .370 (10-for-27) batting average with a home run and eight RBIs.

If Dobbs comes back, he will fill the important role of left-handed bat off the bench.

The Marlins are not expected to sign any more big ticket free agents.

Miami is looking at trade possibilities for a starting pitcher, primarily a front of the rotation-caliber starter. The team isn’t seeking competition for the back end of the rotation.

A major trade is more likely to find a starter than signing a free agent.

From an organizational standpoint, the Marlins have hired Bobby Ramos as their Latin American player development coordinator.

Ramos, formerly the Rays bullpen coach, is taking on a new position in the organization.

Joe Frisaro  

Stanton, Morrison off limits

MIAMI — With Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison regarded as “off limits,” the Marlins are finding it difficult to trade for frontline starting pitching.

Miami pursued Gio Gonzalez for more than a month, but Oakland’s asking price always included either Stanton or Morrison.

Becauses the Marlins are not willing to part with either, they are finding it difficult to lure in a legitimate All-Star pitcher.

If the Marlins had more high-end prospects, perhaps they would have been able to swing a deal for Gonzalez. They don’t, and the A’s on Thursday dealt their All-Star left-hander to the Nationals.

Miami’s search for a frontline starter continues.

For Gonzalez, the Marlins were willing to part with any number of their top Minor Leaguers. They just weren’t willing to do it at the expense of their every day lineup.

So what’s next?

Javier Vazquez, who had a remarkable second half, maintains he is retiring. The Marlins aren’t expecting him back, and they’re looking in other directions.

Left-hander Joe Saunders has been mentioned, but don’t count on it.

The Marlins already signed Mark Buehrle, who is not overpowering. They aren’t looking to have two soft-tossing southpaws, especially for the $7 million that Saunders commands.

Keep in mind, Miami seeks a top of the rotation pitcher, not just an innings eater.

James Shields is in the mix, but not at the price of Stanton or Morrison.

Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt may be more realistic options.

As of now, the Marlins’ rotation is Josh Johnson, Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad. Lefty Wade LeBlanc was obtained by the Padres to add experienced depth.

Clearly, the Marlins would like to add another established arm, but they won’t force the issue. If need be, they may continue their search into Spring Training, ideally finding someone before Opening  Day.

Joe Frisaro

 

Edwin Rodriguez on Reyes and Ramirez

MIAMI — Former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez offered some interesting comments and observations on Wednesday on MLB Network Radio.

A guest of Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo, Rodriguez questioned why Miami would sign Jose Reyes when they already had an All-Star shortstop in Hanley Ramirez. But the former manager added that if Ramirez buys into the move to third base, he and Reyes could form one of the most productive left sides in the game.

“I think it’s going to be a very interesting situation, to say the least,” Rodriguez said. “Knowing Hanley. He’s a very proud player. It’s going to be very hard for him to move out of shortstop. He’s a big league shortstop. He’s an All-Star shortstop. In my opinion, they’re going to have a tough time trying to convince him to move to third base.”

Rodriguez also pointed out that it will be interesting to see how Ramirez responds when Reyes is making headlines, and when the All-Star balloting results come out.

“It will be very interesting to see how Hanley will handle all that,” Rodriguez said. “In my opinion, I don’t think that was the right move to sign Jose Reyes. You already have an All-Star shortstop, why spend money on another All-Star shortstop? Why not put the money into another player, like Albert Pujols or a front-line pitcher?”

When asked if Ramirez can be a success third baseman, Rodriguez said absolutely.

“I will say yes,” he said. “He will be a very successful third baseman. I think it will make him a better offensive player. If he wants to make that adjustment, and commit to that new position, I think he will be a very solid third baseman.

“If he’s willing to do that, I think the Marlins, in that case, are taking that right approach. If they move him to third base, that left side of the field is going to be one of the best, if not the best offensive production in the big leagues.”

Joe Frisaro

Dobbs remains option for Miami

MIAMI — Greg Dobbs is attracking interest from several teams, one of them being the Nationals. But a return to the Marlins still remains a possibility for the veteran infielder.

Miami remains in the mix to sign Dobbs as a free agent. In 2011, he was a bargain, signing a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Dobbs, 33, initially was used as a left-handed bat off the bench, but he ended up getting regular playing time, mainly at third base.

Dobbs batted .275 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs in 411 at-bats.

As a pinch-hitter, he made big impact, hitting .370 (10-for-27) with a home run and eight RBIs.

Joe Frisaro  

Badenhop dealt to Rays

MIAMI — Burke Badenhop, the final piece of the Miguel Cabrera-Dontrelle Willis trade, has been dealt to the Rays for Minor League catcher Jake Jefferies.

The 28-year-old was used mostly in long relief in his Marlins’ career, which began in 2008.

Badenhop was 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 50 games for the Marlins last year, logging 63 2/3 innings.

The right-hander is in his second season of being arbitration eligible.

At the 2007 Winter Meetings, the Marlins obtained Badenhop as part of the Cabrera-Willis deal to Detroit. Also in that trade, they received Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin.

Jefferies, 24, is a left-handed hitting catcher who batted .235 in 59 games with Class A Charlotte last year. He also saw action in six games for Double-A Montgomery, hitting .263 in 19 at-bats.

Jefferies is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound catcher who was a third round pick in 2008 out of the University of California-Davis.

Also on Monday night, the Marlins signed Donnie Murphy to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Joe Frisaro

Rowand agrees to Minor League deal

MIAMI — The Marlins added some outfield depth who has been part of two World Series championship teams.

Aaron Rowand, 34, has agreed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, MLB.com confirmed.

The pending signing was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Rowand, who has been with the Giants since 2008, previously played for Miami manager Ozzie Guillen in Chicago.

In 2005, he batted .271 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs on the White Sox World Series title team. With the Giants in 2010, Rowand was on his second championship club.

A career .273 hitter, Rowand appeared in 108 games, and he batted .233 in 331 at-bats with San Francisco last year.

Joe Frisaro

 

Trading Hanley remains unlikely

MIAMI — Once again, Hanley Ramirez finds his name in trade speculation.

The latest report comes from ESPN’s Buster Olney, who claims at least four teams have talked to the Marlins about Ramirez.

As the dust settles in the aftermath of the Winter Meetings, this much is clear. MLB.com has learned several teams indeed spoke with Miami officials about Ramirez in Dallas. But the Marlins didn’t initiate the conversations. They were measuring what might be out there should they decide to shop their All-Star infielder.

After Miami signed Jose Reyes, some teams wondered what was next with Ramirez? Since the Marlins are open to talking about any of their players, they listened. Nothing more.

What should be clear is the Marlins have no intentions of trading Ramirez. They are hoping he makes a smooth transition to third base.

The team envisions Reyes and Ramirez forming one of the most dynamic left sides of an infield in the big leagues. That’s the hope. They see Reyes leading off, creating havoc, and Ramirez having ample opportunities to drive in runs.

If both are playing at a high level, the Marlins should have an explosive offense.

Right now, Ramirez is rehabbing his surgically-repaired left shoulder and working out in Miami with his former teammate, Miguel Cabrera.

For now, speculation that Ramirez will be traded is just that.

The Marlins are not looking to move Ramirez. But based on feedback they received in Dallas, they know there is a market for their talented infielder, should the organization have a change of heart.

Joe Frisaro

 

More details of Bell, Reyes contracts

MIAMI — The Marlins made three major signings this week, and some contract details are starting to surface.

Miami acquired Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle for a total of $191 million.

MLB.com has learned the exact terms of Bell and Reyes.

Bell is signed for three-years at $26.775 million, including base salaries of $6 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013 and $9 million for 2014. And their is a club option for $9 million in 2015.

The right-hander also will receive a signing bonus of $3 million, of which all is deferred without interest. The option vests if he finishes 55 games in 2014 or he finishes 100 games in 2013-14.

Incentives in the contract include $100,000 for the Rolaids award and $100,000 for World Series MVP. He would receive a $50,000 bonus if he is the NLCS MVP, and there is a $50,000 All-Star bonus.

The Reyes deal is for six years at $105.494 million, with an option for 2018.

Reyes’ base salaries are $10 million (2012), $10 million (2013), $16 million (2014), and $22 million each year from 2015-17. There is a club option of $22 million in 2018 or a $4 million buyout.

If Reyes is the World Series MVP, he would receive a $1 million bonus. And he has a $500,000 incentive for winning the NL MVP. Other bonuses are $250,000 (LCS MVP), $100,000 (Silver Slugger) and $50,000 (All-Star).

Buehrle is signed for four years at $58 million. More details have yet to be revealed.

In other news, the Marlins have signed right-hander Robert Ray to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Joe Frisaro

 

Reasons the Marlins want Pujols

DALLAS — For a team that continues to talk about the need for starting pitching, the Marlins certainly are spending their time and money on improving their lineup.

Jose Reyes is on the brink of finalizing his six-year deal, and on Monday, the organization pushed hard for Albert Pujols.

Is this the right strategy for a roster that seeks two proven starters?

The simple answer is the pursuit of Pujols means the Marlins are traveling one of many paths that the team has mapped out.

If they are able to pull Pujols away from St. Louis, then they will move into another direction in terms of finding a couple of starters.

If the pursuit of Pujols falls short, look for the Marlins to allocate more dollars toward potential rotation upgrades.

The reason the Marlins are going hard after Pujols is because they feel the need for offense. Signing Reyes provides an impact bat, but the Marlins want more.

In a division that features some of the best starting pitchers in the game, the Marlins are looking for as much offensive punch as they can get. And Pujols is the slugger who would take the lineup to the next level.

The Marlins met early afternoon with Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, on Monday. And they reportedly will meet again at night. Look for on-going dialogue between both sides throughout the Winter Meetings.

Should Pujols sign with Miami, look for the Marlins to seek starting pitchers through trades. The team is willing to part with its top prospects for quality arms.

Joe Frisaro

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