ATLANTA — Casey McGehee entered Tuesday night ranked third in the National League in batting average (.322) and tied for first in hits (121). For good measure, the Marlins third baseman is tied for ninth in RBIs (56).
With production across the board, McGehee has established himself once again in the Major Leagues after he spent 2013 in Japan.
The Marlins like McGehee so much that the 31-year-old is part of their longer-range plans.
McGehee’s name is starting to pop up in trade rumors. Jon Heyman of CBS.com and MLB Network reports teams have contacted the Marlins about McGehee. The Mariners, in the market for a right-handed hitting bat, are said to be interested.
However, the Marlins are not shopping McGehee.
McGehee, signed for $1.1 million, has one more season of arbitration eligibility. So the Marlins can retain him in 2015, at a sizeable raise. Miami also is open to offering the third baseman an extension for a few more seasons.
McGehee has offered protection behind Giancarlo Stanton, and he’s been a clubhouse leader.
Right now, Miami views McGehee as a core player, who is under club control. There are no plans to move him.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — About a dozen scouts are at Turner Field, and many of them are keeping a close watch on Marlins’ relievers.
Specifically, they’ve got their eyes on closer Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn.
The Marlins, for now, are committed to staying the course. They’re striving to string together some wins and get back to .500 by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
One thing is clear, if the Marlins did make Cishek and/or Dunn available, there would be strong interest in both.
Cishek, making $3.8 million in his first year of arbitration, would draw the biggest crowds, and bring in the largest payoff. The 28-year-old doesn’t qualify for free agency until 2018. Clearly, his price tag will rise in arbitration, but Miami also could target him as an extension candidate, seeking to lock him up for several more seasons perhaps an affordable rate.
If Cishek were to be moved, it likely would be to bring back a controllable starting pitcher or a big league ready second baseman.
Dunn, making $1.4 million in his first year of arbitration, will be a free agent in 2017.
This is an interesting time for the Marlins. They’re wanting to put themselves into the picture as buyers. They’ve made it clear, a controllable starter and a second baseman are on their wish list.
The club has a good, young core that they’re trying to add rather than subtract. The organization is striving to build stability with its nucleus, and retaining Cishek would be a positive signal to the clubhouse.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — A need for a fresh arm three days after the All-Star Break has led to the Marlins now carrying 13 pitchers.
On Sunday morning, Miami recalled right-hander Anthony DeSclafani from Triple-A New Orleans. In a corresponding move, infielder Ed Lucas was optioned to New Orleans.
The move means manager Mike Redmond once again will be working with a short bench because the club now has 12 position players.
Miami is pressed for another arm after Henderson Alvarez was lifted after 2 2/3 innings on Saturday after he sustained a bruised left shin. And on Friday night, Nathan Eovaldi worked just four innings. So in the first two games coming out of the Break, the starters have logged 6 2/3 innings, while the bullpen has picked up 11 1/3 innings.
DeSclafani has appeared in five big league games, posting a 1-2 record with a 7.40 ERA. In stints with Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans, the right-hander combined for a 5-6 record with a 3.54 ERA.
Lucas, who plays all infield positions, is batting .239 in 51 games.
The Marlins have added Jordany Valdespin to play second base.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Jordany Valdespin is now getting a shot to see if he can bring some stability to the Marlins’ open second base situation.
The 26-year-old left-handed hitting infielder was selected from Triple-A New Orleans on Saturday. In a corresponding move, Miami optioned infielder Justin Bour to New Orleans.
Valdespin was in the starting lineup, batting second on Saturday against the Giants, who are starting Tim Hudson.
In 61 games at New Orleans, Valdespin posted a .270 batting average with eight homers and 29 RBIs. He swiped 15 bases, and was caught 10 times.
The Marlins are actively searching for second base help.
Rafael Furcal (left hamstring strain) was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Derek Dietrich (wrist) is on the disabled list. Ed Lucas and Donovan Solano have been handling second base.
Valdespin last played in the big leagues in 2013 with the Mets, batting .188 in 66 games.
Valdespin was suspended 50 games on Aug. 5, 2013 for being connected to a biogenesis investigation. He also had some issues in New York with manager Terry Collins.
The Marlins signed Valdespin to a Minor League contract last Dec. 20, but he did not receive big league Spring Training invitation.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — On the day the Marlins welcomed A.J. Ramos back from the disabled list, the club placed Kevin Gregg on the 15-day DL.
Gregg is headed to the disabled list, retroactive to July 14, with right elbow inflammation. The right-hander has struggled in recent outings, resulting in his ERA rising to 10.00 in nine innings. Gregg pitched in the series finale against the Mets before the All-Star Break at Citi Field, and he gave up three runs in the eighth inning without recording an out.
Miami certainly welcomes the return of Ramos, who had been on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. Ramos, who has an 0.99 ERA in 39 games, is the team’s primary right-handed setup reliever.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — All-Star week is a time to celebrate the sport, and showcase MLB’s brightest stars. The Marlins are well represented with Giancarlo Stanton and Henderson Alvarez taking part in the festivities at Target Field in Minneapolis.
If not for injury, the Marlins perhaps could have had a third star at the event. It wasn’t meant to be because Jose Fernandez sustained a serious ligament tear in May, and underwent Tommy John surgery in the same month.
Recovery time for a starting pitcher is generally in the 12-18 month range.
In Fernandez’s case, expect the time frame to be roughly 14 months. If so, look for the right-hander to rejoin the Miami rotation around the 2015 All-Star Break.
Fernandez, who turns 22 later in the month, is not eager to push things. Over the weekend Scott Boras was in New York. He talked to the New York media about Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, who also is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Boras noted a 14 month recovery for Harvey, another of his clients.
It’s safe to apply that same time line to Fernandez.
The Marlins know they can’t easily replace Fernandez, but they’re searching the trade market for starting upgrades.
That’s one reason why the club isn’t looking for a rental. The front office is aware Fernandez won’t be ready for the start of the 2015 season, and most likely the first half. So in trade scenarios, they’re seeking controllable years.
Miami will need to add a fifth starter shortly after the All-Star Break. Chances are a trade could be completed by that point. An internal option could be Brad Penny, who had an effective five-innings start at Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday.
– Joe Frisaro
NEW YORK –- Add the Marlins to the list of clubs looking for starting pitching before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
But Miami isn’t just seeking any type of starter. The club is targeting controllable young arms, meaning those who are not on the verge of becoming free agents. The club has no interest in a rental.
“A rental, it may help you in the short term,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “We want something we can move forward with. I think that will definitely influence the direction we go.”
Along with a starting pitcher, the Marlins also are exploring second base options.
The Marlins felt they had a second base answer when they signed free agent Rafael Furcal in the offseason. But a left hamstring injury has limited Furcal to just nine games.
Furcal was expected to be a speed threat at the top of the order.
On the trade front, the Marlins are looking for a second baseman who can run and potentially lead off.
* A couple of more Draft picks are expected to have their deals finalized by Friday’s deadline to sign all picks. Seventh rounder Anfernee Seymour’s deal is about done, as is 10th rounder, lefty Dillon Peters from Texas. Peters is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and won’t be ready to pitch for another year. All of Miami’s top 10 round picks will be signed.
* Brad Penny, who is pitching at Triple-A New Orleans, could be a rotation option at some point in July. Miami needs a fifth starter by July 22, or the fifth game after the All-Star Break.
* A.J. Ramos (right shoulder inflammation) is expected to come off the DL on Friday. Ramos will pitch in some rehab assignment games at Double-A Jacksonville.
* Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, is showing improvement at Class A Jupiter, and he could be headed for a promotion to Jacksonville in the upcoming weeks.
– Joe Frisaro
NEW YORK — The Marlins remain extremely active on the international signing front.
Add seven more 16-year-old standouts to an already impressive list. All are from the Dominican Republic, and the list features right-hander Luis Mojica, lefties Gabriel Baez and Julio Frias, shortstops Samuel Castro and Ronald Reynoso, plus outfielders Juan Borges and Sleyter Soto.
This year, the organization has tripled its budget to signing international prospects. The signing period for 16-year-olds started on July 2.
On the first day, the organization believes it struck big by reaching deals with Venezuelan outfielder Anderson Castro, Venezuelan shortstop Andres Villalobo and Dominican Republic outfielder Christian Capellan.
Castro, especially, has been promising. He’s considered a five-tool talent with immense power.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — It may have to take a global effort to get Casey McGehee voted into the All-Star Game.
McGehee, certainly has the support of his Marlins’ teammates, who pull no punches when speaking out about how deserving the 31-year-old is. Still, it’s going to take more.
A Final Vote candidate, McGehee is currently fifth after the first day of voting.
The way the Marlins are looking at it, it’s just one day. The organization has mounted an all-out campaign aimed at drumming up support for McGehee.
A major push is being made in Japan, where McGehee played in 2013. Looking to re-charge his career, the veteran third baseman joined the Rakuten Golden Eagles, where he was part of a championship team.
McGehee was a teammate of Masahiro Tanaka, who used Twitter to encourge his followers to support the Marlins third baseman. Fans are encouraged to hashtag #VoteHitsMcGehee on Twitter.
The Marlins have reached out to Rakuten team executives, as well as some in the Japanese media to get the word out to vote for McGehee.
Final Voting is on MLB.com, and the deadline is Thursday.
– Joe Frisaro
ST. LOUIS — The All-Star rosters will be announced on Sunday, and the Marlins are hopeful that third baseman Casey McGehee is on the list.
Even if he isn’t, to the Miami players and coaches, McGehee is receiving star treatment.
McGehee stepped up yet again on Saturday afternoon, delivering the game-tying, two-out, RBI single to right-center off Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth inning.
Miami pulled out a 6-5 comeback win when Jeff Baker came through with an RBI single to left.
“That’s an All-Star at-bat for Casey McGehee right there,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.
The N.L. All-Stars are managed by Mike Matheny of the Cardinals, who has seen McGehee first hand the last two days.
McGehee fouled off five straight full-count pitches before putting the ball in the gap, scoring Donovan Solano from first.
Solano actually was getting tired because with the count full, he had to keep running on each pitch. Five straight times he was in motion before he raced from first home with the tying run.
“I was on first and on the 3-2 count, he got a foul ball, a foul ball, a foul ball, a foul ball and a foul ball,” Solano said. “And I thought, I’m really tired. I need some water. I just tell myself that no matter what, I need to run 100 percent, give all I had, no matter where the ball is hit. I need to run hard to home.”
McGehee is riding a 12-game hitting streak, a career high. He is batting .317 and he’s driven in 52 runs. McGehee leads all NL third basemen in both categories.
To the Marlins, there is no doubt McGehee should be at the All-Star Game.
“Look at today, that’s all I have to say,” teammate Christian Yelich said. “Look at that at-bat in the ninth inning. That’s pretty impressive. The guy is throwing 97, 98, 99. Flips that curve up there, fouls it off. Ninty-eight, fouls it off. Ninty-nine, fouls it off. Gets a big hit and ties the game up for us. He’s been doing that all year. That’s a night after night thing that he goes out and does. I think he’s definitely deserving. Let’s see how it plays out.”
Whether he is an All-Star or not, McGehee is handling everything in stride.
“I think I’ve said before, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t care,” the 31-year-old said. “But at the same time, it’s not going to make or break my year, or my day, being on it or off it. It would be a tremendous honor to be selected. As long as the 24 other guys and the coaches in this clubhouse has faith in me to do my job and trust me to do my job that’s all I can ask for. Anything else is just kind of extra. It would be curious to find out, for sure.”
– Joe Frisaro