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

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