July 2013

Trade Deadline passes with no movement

MIAMI — About 15 minutes before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins sent out a text to an undisclosed team about a possible trade scenario.

“We threw out a couple of names,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

The last-ditch, Hail Mary proposal was eventually answered with a, no thanks.

With that, the Trade Deadline passed without the Marlins making any moves.

It’s not surprising, because the club was bracing to stay the course. It has been discussed internally for a while with owner Jeffrey Loria, Beinfest, general manager Michael Hill and the rest of the organization.

“I think when Mike and I got in the office this morning, and updated Jeffrey, I don’t think we thought anything was going to happen,” Beinfest said. “It kind of turned out that way. We were on the phone. There were texts. There were some ideas. We threw out an idea late. It was kind of a normal day. We never got the sense that anything was close.”

The Marlins still could be active in August, when the waiver trading period gets underway.

“You never know,” Beinfest said. “Things change every day. Injuries. People on a run, not on a run. You just never know. We’ve made a bunch of deals in the last year. Today wasn’t our day to make a deal.”

It was expected that the Marlins would not move slugger Giancarlo Stanton, barring an overwhelming offer that never materialized. Closer Steve Cishek and lefty reliever Mike Dunn had drawn interest in recent months. All three are expected to be core players as the organization moves forward the rest of the season and into 2014.

Even a veteran like Chad Qualls, a free agent after the season, has value to the organization in its attempt to win as many games as possible.

Placido Polanco could be a candidate to be moved in August. There could be a potential match with the Yankees, who may have a need for third base depth.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins likely to remain silent through deadline

MIAMI — If the Marlins make a move before the 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, it ilikely will be a minor one.

Miami has a high asking price for any of their core players — like Giancarlo Stanton, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn. None of these three have been openly shopped, and each figures to be part of the team in 2014.

While much of the attention is paid to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, there is a greater chance a couple of Marlins could be moved in August, when deals cans still be completed, but each player must first clear waivers.

Candidates to be moved in August are infielder Placido Polanco, who reportedly could have a fit with the Yankees, if they don’t get Michael Young.

Chad Qualls, Greg Dobbs, Justin Ruggiano and Juan Pierre also could get some interest in the non-waiver period.

Teams have inquired about Ruggiano in recent weeks, but hte outfielder is mired in an 0-for-33 slump, which has hurt his value.

Qualls, a free agent after the season, has value to the club. And Miami is not eager to move the veteran setup reliever.

Dobbs also is a free agent after the season, and he could have value as a left-handed bat off the bench.

Pierre is a fan and organizational favorite, who signed a one-year contract last November. After his playing career is over, he could be a candidate to join the organization in some capacity, perhaps as a coach.

Joe Frisaro

Could Red Sox sway Marlins to move Stanton?

MIAMI — It’s a day away from the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and all appears quiet in Marlins camp.

Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline is expected to come and go with little to no activity.

Still, you never know.

Contending teams have been calling regularly on a number of core Miami players. They’re repeatedly told closer Steve Cishek is not available. Most likely that will be the stock answer to any core player wearing the multi-colored Marlins’ uniforms.

As the deadline approaches, worth watching is if a contender can offer a substantial package of players that would lure in slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

The 23-year-old, viewed as a building block in Miami, is not expected to go anywhere. Not just for the remainder of 2013, but in 2014 and perhaps beyond, either.

Right now, the Marlins have pretty much closed the door on any Stanton offers. The challenge for a contender is seeing if they can convince the Miami brass to even listen?

It’s no secret that the Rangers and Pirates have repeatedly checked in on Stanton. All their calls have been met with a resounding, “No.”

Is there a team out there who won’t take “no” for an answer and somehow get Miami to say, yes?

If there is a sleeper squad, it could be the Red Sox.

A league source said Boston may be willing to part with whatever it takes in hopes of swaying the Marlins to relocate Stanton to Fenway Park.

The Red Sox indeed have a strong system, and it would likely take four or five players alone to secure Stanton’s services.

But is there a fit between the clubs?

The Red Sox top prospect is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, ranked by MLB.com as the sixth overall prospect in the game.

But the Marlins have Adeiny Hechavarria, a shortstop many in the organization feel is the best defender at his position in the National League. What if Bogaerts is able to switch to second base? If so, an Hechavarria-Bogaerts middle infield could be attractive to Miami.

Boston’s No. 2 ranked prospect is Jackie Bradley, a left-handed hitting outfielder, who also likely would have to be included in any potential deal.

From Miami’s point of view, is there a need for Bradley? If Stanton is dealt, the organization could then go with Christian Yelich in left, Jake Marisnick in center and Marcell Ozuna in right. So where would Bradley fit? Or is he an upgrade over any of the players Miami already has in the outfield. If not, it wouldn’t make sense for the Marlins.

Ozuna, however, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing left thumb surgery. Certainly, outfield depth would be needed.

Another position the Marlins would likely want is pitching. The club pretty much seeks a pitcher in return of any trade they make.

Pitchers Allen Webster and Henry Owens are Boston’s third and fourth ranked prospects, respectively. Lefty Trey Ball was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

Would those five or four of those five get a deal done? Or it could be a combination of three or four top prospects, and a player or two already on Boston’s big league roster?

For Stanton, pretty much any team would have to be willing to clean out their farm system. Even then, the Marlins may so no.

The main reason why the Marlins aren’t expected to make any major moves now is they like where they are headed. Team chemistry is the highest it’s been in years. On the field, the club has played drastically better the past two months, and with a wealth of talented pitchers, they may be a year or two away from being a contender. That’s staying with what they have, and making minor adjustments.

Stanton, remember, is just 23, and there is no urgency to move him.

While eligible for free agency in 2014, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season. Miami coud be serious contenders by 2015, which falls within Stanton’s arbitration-years window. So even if the slugger doesn’t accept a substantial multi-year offer from Miami, he could stick around a while.

It’s clear as long as Stanton stays in Miami, rumors that he will eventually be moved will follow.

Joe Frisaro

Heaney gets promoted to Jacksonville

MIAMI — Double-A Jacksonville may have recently lost two touted outfield prospects. But on Monday, the Suns gained one of the organization’s most highly regarded pitchers.

Andrew Heaney has been promoted to Jacksonville after the 22-year-old left-hander dominated at Class A Jupiter.

The ninth overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Heaney opened the season on the disabled list with a left lat injury. But since his return, he’s been impressive. At Jupiter, he posted a 5-2 record with an 0.88 ERA in 13 games, with 12 starts.

The lefty struck out 66 and walked 17 in 61 2/3 innings.

Opponents batted .193 against him.

Jacksonville’s rotation has just gotten stronger, after its offense had outfielders Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick promoted to the Marlins last week.

Miami picked Heaney in the first round out of Oklahoma State.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins promote reliever Ames

MIAMI — The Marlins will get a look at one of the prospects they acquired in the Ricky Nolasco trade.

Steven Ames, a right-handed reliever, is being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday to replace injured Kevin Slowey.

Slowey is headed to the disabled list with right elbow discomfort.

Ames, 25, is making his first big league callup.

Miami acquired the right-hander, who attended Gonzaga (manager Mike Redmond’s college), earlier this month from the Dodgers for Nolasco.

Ames made five appearances with New Orleans, and he didn’t allow a run.

Before being dealt to Miami, Ames was 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA in 30 appearances for Triple-A Albuquerque.

Joe Frisaro

Slowey heading to disabled list

MIAMI — Marlins right-hander Kevin Slowey is heading to the disabled list with right forearm discomfort.

The 29-year-old experienced pain in his throwing arm while warming up in the third inning on Saturday night in Miami’s 7-4 loss to the Pirates.

Slowey, who has contributed in the rotation and in relief, is 3-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 92 innings.

The Marlins will make a corresponding move before they face the Pirates on Sunday afternoon.

Slowey has been a versatile veteran who has handled a variety of roles.

Due to injuries, Slowey opened the season as the No. 2 starter, and in 14 starts, he is 1-6 with a 4.21 ERA. In six relief appearances, he is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA.

Formerly with the Twins, Slowey made the Marlins as a non-roster invitee. He spent time on the disabled list in 2011 with an abdominal strain, and right biceps soreness.

Due to injuries, Slowey had not pitched in the big leagues since he threw 59 1/3 innings for the Twins in 2011.

Slowey was loosening up in the third inning on Saturday after Tom Koehler got into early trouble.

“He was warming up down there, and his forearm tightened up on him,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He wasn’t able to go. Without him being our long guy, we had to make an adjustment and piece it together.”

Joe Frisaro

Marlins unlikely to make major moves

MIAMI — Trade speculation promises to rise as Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, and the Marlins are content to pretty much remain inactive.

The club already made its major move, dealing Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects on July 6.

Pretty much every contending team in need of relief pitching has already been told closer Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn are not available. Several other clubs have inquired about veteran Chad Qualls, a free agent at the end of the season.

Even for Qualls, who is not guaranteed to be part of Miami’s plans for ’14, isn’t actively being shopped.

The Marlins are leaning towards retaining Qualls, barring a team overpaying for the right-hander, who has done a solid job in a setup role.

Why not deal Qualls? It’s pretty simple. The Marlins are looking to win as many games as possible in the second half. If the team was in a downward spiral right now, their thinking likely would be different.

But Miami, while 39-62 overall, is 26-21 since May 31.

It’s a pretty remarkable turnaround since starting off 14-41 in April and May.

With young pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Turner and Henderson Alvarez each throwing well, the organization doesn’t want to see winnable games slip away due to inexperienced relievers.

So if the return for Qualls isn’t something worth the Marlins’ while, then they are perfectly satisfied with keeping the veteran through the end of the season.

The biggest name on the Marlins repeatedly mentioned in trade speculation is Giancarlo Stanton. Each day brings another report with the 23-year-old slugger’s name attached.

It’s been reported that the Rangers and Pirates are calling regularly, and they repeatedly are told the same thing — no.

The bottom line with Stanton is he isn’t available, not now and pretty much not in the offseason.

Stanton will qualify for arbitration for the first time in 2014, and his salary will jump into the neighborhood of $6.5 million or perhaps another half million more.

Whatever the exact figure will be is affordable for the Marlins.

Besides, the club already has said publicly that it plans on approaching Stanton about a significant multi-year offer. Even if he doesn’t accept it, the Marlins are willing to retain the slugger through at least the start of 2014.

Quite simply, the Marlins need Stanton’s power. That has been magnified even more with the recent left thumb injury to Marcell Ozuna, a candidate to eventually replace Stanton in right field.

As an organization, there isn’t a surplus of power. So the team is looking to find it from within. The Marlins aren’t planning on being active in the free agent market for a power hitter, so retaining Stanton is a high priority.

The Marlins are last in the Majors in runs scored with 321, and that figure is pretty far back of the White Sox, who rank 29th in runs with 377. Stanton missed all of May with a strained right hamstring, and that’s when the team struggled miserably.

Miami also is last in home runs with 61, two behind the Giants.

And the Marlins’ slugging percentage of .337 also ranks at the bottom in the Majors. The Yankees are next in that category at .371.

Candidates who could be moved are Ryan Webb and Justin Ruggiano.

Between now and the Trade Deadline, calls are expected to come in and go out, but the Marlins aren’t expected to be a main trade attraction by the middle of next week.

Joe Frisaro

Ozuna suffers ligament tear

The Marlins have placed outfielder Marcell Ozuna on the 15-day disabled list with a left thumb injury, which will require surgery.

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters in Denver, it is “highly doubtful” Ozuna will play again this season.

Ozuna jammed his thumb in Miami’s 3-1 win over the Rockies at Coors Field on Monday night.

The 22-year-old outfielder saw a thumb specialist in Miami on Wednesday, and it revealed a serious injury. Ozuna has a left thumb ligament tear, and an avulsion fracture. Surgery is scheduled for Friday.

Because the injury occurred in a big league game, Ozuna will be placed on the MLB disabled list.

The Marlins optioned Ozuna to Double-A Jacksonville after Monday’s game.

The injury occurred when Ozuna made a diving catch on Michael Cuddyer’s sinking line drive. On the play, Ozuna’s glove hand (his left) bent backwards. It’s the second serious injury to the same general area for Ozuna this season.

Late in Spring Training, he suffered a broken left wrist after colliding with the wall while making a catch.

With Ozuna going on the big league DL, it will impact his MLB service time, meaning he will likely qualify as a Super Two and be eligible for arbitration in 2016.

If not for the injury, Ozuna would have returned to Double-A, where he opened the season, and he likely would not have had enough MLB service time to be arbitration eligible until 2017.

Joe Frisaro

Ruggiano likely candidate to be traded

MIAMI — With their top two prospects called up, the Marlins have a couple of outfielders who are expendable.

Justin Ruggiano and Juan Pierre will see their playing time drastically reduced now that Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick have been promoted from Double-A Jacksonville.

Ruggiano, especially, becomes a candidate to be traded by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The 31-year-old can play all three outfield spots, and he provides power. His 12 home runs lead the Marlins. but he’s mired in an 0-for-30 slump since his last hit on July 8.

The dryspell has dropped his batting average to .202.

According to various reports, the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies and Giants have a level of interest.

Because he is out of options, and doesn’t figure to be part of the team’s plans next year, Ruggiano is a strong candidate to be moved either at the deadline or sometime in August, during the waiver trade period.

Pierre, meanwhile, is 35 and he is a favorite of the organization. The veteran speedster likely will remain with the club for the remainder of the season, unless there is a contending team interested in his services. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

If Ruggiano is dealt, Pierre could see more playing time in spot starts. Yelich is playing left field, but he could move to center field if Marisnick is given a day off or replaced in a double-switch situation.

A key member of the Marlins’ 2003 World Series team, Pierre’s role now is mostly as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Pierre remains popular in the clubhouse, and he is seen as a valuable asset to provide leadership and insight to the young players.

Pierre lives in South Florida, and when he retires as a player, the Marlins would strongly consider having him work in their organization, perhaps as a coach.

Joe Frisaro

Kotchman, Sanabia transferred to 60-day DL

To make space on the 40-man roster for outfield prospects Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick, the Marlins on Tuesday made a few corresponding moves.

First baseman Casey Kotchman and right-hander Alex Sanabia were each transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

Miami also recalled infielder Chris Valaika from his rehab assignment, activated him from the 60-day disabled list, and then designated him for assignment.

Yelich and Marisnick officially had their contracts selected from Double-A Jacksonville on Tuesday. Respectively, they are ranked by MLB.com as Miami’s top two prospects.

Kotchman has been on the disabled list since June 10 with a left oblique strain, while Sanabia has been sidelined since May 27 with a right groin injury.

Valaika fractured his left wrist in early May, which required surgery. The utility infielder was sent to Triple-A New Orleans on rehab assignment on July 18.

Joe Frisaro