Nothing imminent as Marlins approach Winter Meetings
MIAMI — Many ideas and scenarios are being tossed around, but no signings or trades are imminent for the Marlins three days before the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego.
“I will say that there have been multiple conversations on a lot of fronts,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “I wouldn’t say that we’re near the finish line on anything, but it’s good conversation and good dialogue on a number of things.”
With that said, the market is ever changing, and deals can materialize quickly.
“Stuff happens quickly,” Hill said. “We’re able to move as fast as we need to move. I’m not sure what the timeline will be, but we are having dialogue on a number of fronts.”
The Winter Meetings begin on Monday, and Miami remains focused on adding a power bat and a front-line starting pitcher. Second base may be a need, but it isn’t the club’s highest priority. The team is prepared to have open competition with Donovan Solano and Enrique Hernandez being the frontrunners.
“It’s not a very rich market,” Hill said. “That’s why I think we were very fortunate to acquire [Hernandez] at the deadline. It’s not something where there are numerous options out there ready and available that we feel are significant upgrades over what we have. It’s something we continue to monitor. I wouldn’t say it is at the forefront of our goals.”
Hernandez was acquired from the Astros on July 31. A few weeks ago, he sustained a lower-abdominal strain while playing Winter Ball in Puerto Rico. The injury is minor, and he has already resumed his offseason workouts.
“It was very minor,” Hill said. “I think he was just scared because it was something new. We flew him in to Miami just to be sure. No issues. No limitations. He’s good to good. He’s back on his offseason program and getting ready to play in Spring Training.”
The Marlins also are encouraged by Giancarlo Stanton’s recovery from the facial fractures he suffered after being struck by a pitch at Milwaukee on Sept. 11.
Stanton has begun his workouts and is hitting in the cages near his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
“He’s already started his offseason program,” Hill said. “He’s working out in California, and he’s getting ready to hopefully lead this team to a tremendous 2015 season.”
Before Stanton signed his 13-year, $325 million contract on Nov. 19, the Marlins put their slugger through a variety of medical tests to make sure he will be ready for Spring Training.
“If there is a test out there, we put him through it,” Hill said. “I think from a medical standpoint, we were all comfortable with the results of the myriad of tests that he went through. We were all comfortable moving forward.”
As for making upgrades, the Marlins are looking for players who fit their clubhouse culture as well as fit within their budget, expected to be $65 million.
Miami is open to dealing some pitching prospects to help the big league club. The club has been linked to a number of players who are a year away from free agency. David Price of the Tigers and Chris Davis of the Orioles are in that category.
“That is the process we’re working through right now,” Hill said, while not mentioning any players specifically. “There are a number of five-plus [service years] players out there available, and when you talk about six-plus years of control for your inventory, there’s definitely value in that. I think we’re just trying to measure the value of the piece that we’re adding versus the control that we would be giving away.
“Our situation, we’re never going to be a high revenue, high top of the market, payroll-wise club. So we have to be mindful and protective of our inventory. But we also know that we have to win games. I think that is what we’re trying to balance and make the right decision that helps us, both in the near term and the long term.”
Hill also addressed Derek Jeter’s impromptu visit to Marlins Park on Monday, where he toured the ballpark with team owner Jeffrey Loria.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” Hill said. “We had seen him and spent time with him in Panama over Spring Training. He enjoyed the tour of the ballpark. It was nice. We congratulated him on a great career, and asked him if he had any pinch-hits left in him.”
The Marlins and Yankees played two Spring Training games in Panama last March as part of a tribute to Mariano Rivera.
Jeter’s only previous visit to Marlins Park came prior to the 2012 season. Before the inaugural season at Miami’s new building, the Marlins played the Yankees in two exhibition games.
Now retired, Jeter, in South Florida on personal business, told Miami officials he wanted to see the entire building.
“But he said all he saw [in 2012] was the clubhouse,” Hill said.”He got a full-fledge tour of every inch of the building.”
— Joe Frisaro