Marlins likely staying the course

MIAMI — Passed at the finish line by A’s in their pursuit of Yeonis Cespedes, the Marlins now appear ready to stay the course with what they have as they prepare for the start of Spring Training.

Make no mistake, the Marlins were certainly hopeful of signing Cespedes. They were aware the A’s entered the race late, but liked their chances until the demands from Cespedes’ camp went from six to four years.

Oakland reached agreement on a four-year, $36 million deal on Monday, while the Marlins had a six-year, $36 million offer on the table.

The Marlins wanted the longer deal because, frankly, they didn’t believe Cespedes would be ready for Opening Day. In fact, Miami felt, the 26-year-old likely would have needed some time at Triple-A New Orleans.

Barring an injury, Cespedes wasn’t projected to unseat Emilio Bonifacio in center field for the April 4 opener against the Cardinals.

To the Marlins, paying Cespedes on average $9 million a year for four years didn’t make sense if some of that time was being spent on development.

Not landing Cespedes clearly is disappointing for the Marlins, but it isn’t devastating. Signing the Cuban-native didn’t make or break what’s already been a tremendous offseason.

Now that Cespedes is off the market, the Marlins are likely done from making any major moves before pitchers and catchers begin workouts on Feb. 22 at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.

Aaron Rowand and Austin Kearns will likely benefit the most without Cespedes in camp. The two non-roster invitees have big league experience, and Rowand can play center field.

Bryan Petersen, Scott Cousins and Chris Coghlan also will have a shot at making the club. But Coghlan’s health is a concern. The 2009 N.L. Rookie of the Year had his left knee scoped in November, and it’s the same knee that required surgery in 2010 for a torn meniscus.

In terms of veteran position player depth, don’t look for Miami to make a last-minute push for Ivan Rodriguez. The club feels Brett Hayes is deserving of the backup catcher role.

Once Spring Training begins, the Marlins may explore the market for more experienced pitching.

The team feels it has enough offense to contend. Big league-tested pitching, however, is something that is always in demand.

For now, what the Marlins have is likely what they will go with when Spring Training begins.

Joe Frisaro

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