Marlins leaning towards staying the course

MIAMI — Teams that reach the All-Star Break firmly in last place typically consider making major moves by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

That may be the case for many clubs. But it’s not what the Marlins are thinking.

After falling 5-2 in 10 innings to the Nationals on Sunday, Miami entered the break with a 35-58 record. Still, there is plenty of reason for optimism, mainly because its young core is coming together.

Since May 31, the Marlins are 22-17. And they are 21-17 since June 1, compared to a 14-41 mark in April and May.

The fact they’ve built some positive momentum has the Marlins leaning towards staying the course as the July 31 deadline approaches. They aren’t anticipating making any major trades.

Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn have all been mentioned in trade speculation. All four are eligible for arbitration next year. But the bottom line is all four are considered building blocks for the remainder of this year and in 2014. Don’t expect any of them to be dealt. Of course, a team willing to dramatically overpay could change things. But that is highly unlikely.

In summing up the first half, first-year manager Mike Redmond noted the Marlins are pleased with the improvement, but they recognize there is plenty of room for improvement.

“By no means are we satisfied with where we are at,” Redmond said. “We know we can get better. We know we can continue to improve. We’ll go out there in the second half, and hopefully have a great second half and finish strong.”

The Marlins pretty much made their big move already. A week ago, they dealt Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects.

It was no secret Nolasco was available, because the right-hander will be a free agent after the season. The Marlins feel they have a group of young starting pitchers to replace Nolasco, so they weren’t planning on making an offer to retain him.

With Stanton, there isn’t an obvious replacement. His power is critical for a team that is last in the Majors in home runs. And he’s a threat at Marlins Park, which has allowed the fewest amount of homers of any stadium this year.

Morrison also is viewed as a building block because he is the primary power threat from the left side, and he has the ability to become highly productive. Injuries slowed him down, and the team wants to see what he can do playing regularly.

Cishek has not been made available, largely because with so much strong, young starting pitching, the Marlins are counting on a reliable closer to secure wins. The organization doesn’t want to demoralize its young pitching by having late leads disappear.

For another club to acquire Cishek, its bidding likely would have to start with their No. 1 prospect. Even then, finding a match appears remote.

The Tigers, for instance, have a need. But even their top prospect, Nick Castellanos, may not be a fit. Castellonas plays third base and outfield, two areas the Marlins already have prospects.

The Marlins just signed their first-round pick, third baseman Colin Moran, for $3.5 million. Moran is viewed as the third baseman of the future. And they have young outfielders like Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. Both could be called up in the second half. So there is an outfield surplus, which also limits the trade market.

Candidates the Marlins could trade are relievers Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls. Placido Polanco, Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs are position players who are possible trade pieces.

Even they may not be moved in July.

Chances are the Marlins could make more moves in August, during the waiver-trade period than by the end of July.

Right now, the club wants to see how its core progresses together.

– Joe Frisaro

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