PITTSBURGH — Organizational depth put the Marlins in position to pull off a trade with the Astros last week that should help the big league roster for at least the next few seasons.
The downside of the deal is it weakened the system from a position player standpoint.
But that’s the nature of trades. You have to give to receive. The Marlins did yield quite a bit when they sent outfielder Jake Marisnick and third baseman Colin Moran to the Astros.
The Marlins and Astros finalized a six-player deal less than 30 seconds before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Miami also sent Minor Leaguer Francis Martes and a 2015 competitive balance Draft pick to Houston.
In return, the Marlins acquired right-hander Jarred Cosart and infielder/outfielder Enrique Hernandez, plus Minor League outfielder Austin Wates.
Ultimately what the trade did was help solidify the rotation for the short and long term.
Cosart, according to several scouts, profiles as a No. 4-caliber starter. His ceiling could be a solid No. 3. Plus, he is big league tested.
All along the Marlins said they wanted a starter with controllable years before reaching free agency. Cosart steps right into the rotation, and he provides a boost for the rest of this season.
Plus, heading in 2015, the Marlins are bracing to be without Jose Fernandez until around the All-Star Break.
Until Fernandez is ready, the organization feels better positioned with a rotation of Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Cosart, Tom Koehler and perhaps Brad Hand or Jacob Turner.
It’s an impressive young group that will be pushed by prospects like Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino.
Hernandez also is part of the big league plans. The infielder can play second, short and third base, as well as center field. He also can hit.
Moving forward, Hernandez is an option to fill in for Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop and Casey McGehee at third.
Hernandez also could be a candidate to win the second base job in 2015.
A couple of other things to keep in mind regarding the trade.
* It solidifies McGehee has Miami’s third baseman for 2015, and perhaps beyond. McGehee is arbitration-eligible next season. But the club also is open to signing the 31-year-old to an extension.
Although Moran was the sixth overall pick in 2013, he wasn’t projected to be big league ready next year.
* By dealing Marisnick, Miami’s outfield of Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton are expected to remain together at least through 2015.
If the Marlins had been leaning towards trading Stanton, they only would have done so if they were confident Marisnick was ready to play every day in the big leagues. Obviously, Miami could seek an outfielder in any deal involving Stanton, but that is not what the organization is considering at this point.
Signing Stanton to a long-term deal remains the Marlins’ priority. That’s not a given, because the slugger will have to agree this is the place he wants to be for at least five or six more years.
Even if Stanton wants to sign year-to-year until he becomes a free agent after 2016, the Marlins appear to be in no rush to make a trade. The return the Red Sox got for Jon Lester has redefined what the market could look like for a rental.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — On Thursday, the Marlins welcomed Jarred Cosart as a newcomer to their rotation. But on Friday, the club suffered a hit when it placed All-Star Henderson Alvarez on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
Jacob Turner will step in to replace Alvarez in the rotation, and pitch on Sunday in the series finale with the Reds.
Alvarez (8-5) is coming off a win against the Nationals on Tuesday, tossing seven shutout innings. During that game, with the bases loaded and no outs, Alvarez appeared to show some sort of discomfort. Manager Mike Redmond and assistant trainer Mike Kozak went to the mound, but Alvarez stayed in the game, got out of the jam, and made it through seven innings.
Redmond said that Alvarez’s shoulder bothered him late Thursday and on Friday, the 24-year-old informed pitching coach Chuck Hernandez that his arm was hurting.
Alvarez is expected to have an MRI.
The Marlins are hoping they caught the inflammation early, and it won’t lead to a prolonged injury.
Alvarez is on the DL, retroactive to July 30.
Miami is looking to make a playoff push, which is a reason it acquired Cosart from the Astros on Thursday. When that deal was made, Turner was set to move to the bullpen. But Turner will remain in the rotation.
The Marlins will have to make a corresponding move, adding a reliever to the active roster.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — So much for the notion teams get less for rentals.
If anything, what has transpired on non-waiver Trade Deadline day is impact players will command a high price, no matter when they are moved. The Red Sox, Athletics and Cardinals all proved that in one of the most fascinating deadline days in years.
Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance pick? This deal alone showed what the return on a two-month rental can be. Then, John Lackey, technically not a rental, for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly?
Moving proven players, some with World Series experience, for each other has moved the trade thinking away from the belief prospects are dealt for veterans. And you have to trade arbitration-eligible players to maximize your return well before they become free agents.
How does this impact the Marlins? Well, it should further remind the organization that there is zero urgency to trade Giancarlo Stanton. Not just now, but for another year or two, if the club wishes.
Stanton isn’t eligible for free agency until after 2016. If the Marlins, who are improving, feel they can make a serious playoff run in 2015 and ’16, they may very well decide to retain their All-Star right fielder, regardless of whether he is under a long-term contract or not.
The common belief is Stanton’s value will be at his highest this offseason. Maybe it will be. But to think that Miami can’t bring in a big time haul if they wait, even up to the Trade Deadline in 2016, is nonsense. Any doubters should simply pay attention to what occurred before noon today.
The reality is, the Marlins can literally see where they are in the standings in 2015 and up to half of 2016 before deciding to deal Stanton. This logic only applies if Miami feels it can’t sign their slugger to an extension before then.
Now, this won’t stop the rumors, because the rest of the league repeatedly makes calls to the Marlins regarding Stanton. As for what the team is thinking now, they have no intentions of moving Stanton any time soon, and that includes 2015.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Scratch Jon Lester’s name off the board. So that leaves, John Lackey, Wade Miley, Tommy Milone and John Danks as names connected to the Marlins.
Actually, scratch Milone’s name, too, off the list. Milone, too, is off the board.
The clock is ticking towards Thursday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Miami is expected to be active. But can the front office complete a deal?
The big splash of the morning came with reports that the Red Sox had sent Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes.
About two hours after the Lester deal broke, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, reported Milone has been dealt to the Twins.
The Red Sox have been looking for big league ready outfielders, and they got one in Cespedes. Which explains why, from the Marlins, they were eyeing Christian Yelich.
Miami has no interest in moving any core players off its 25-man roster. So there wasn’t a fit for Lester.
The search is for a starting pitcher with controllable years. Milone right now may make the most sense of pitchers available, mainly because the A’s clearly have a surplus of starters.
Still, there is competition for starters, as Miami saw with Milone. The 27-year-old lefty s 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA, and he is 32-22 (3.84) in 80 big league appearances with 78 starts.
His contract status is favorable to Miami, because he becomes arbitration eligible for the first time in 2015.
Danks, 29, is being mentioned. The lefty with the White Sox is signed through 2016 for $14,250 million in each of the next two years. It’s hard to imagine the Marlins would pick up that entire salary.
Miami has prospects and a competitive balance pick in 2015 that could be used as trade pieces.
Boston also is probably leaning heavily towards moving Lackey, who has a favorable contract for 2015 (league minimum). That said, the Red Sox are seeking to return to glory in 2015 and they are asking for big pieces. But perhaps a close to big league ready pitching prospect could complete a deal?
If Miami is to make a statement and a push, it will need some more pieces. An experienced starting pitcher would send a strong signal to a re-energized roster.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The last call was made around 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, shortly before Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill left the ballpark. The first message Hill received after he woke up was about 8:37 a.m.
Numerous calls are coming in, and the Marlins are weighing all options as Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
The Marlins are working hard to make a trade or two before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. A controllable starting pitcher remains a priority, but a rental remains possible, but not at the cost of mortgaging the future.
“Not ideal for what we’re trying to do,” Hill said of a rental. “It’s something that we’ve entertained and have dipped our toe in the water. It all depends on the cost to acquire a rental and if it sidetracks what we’re trying to do in the long term.”
That may rule out Red Sox lefty Jon Lester, who would with the club for the rest of the season.
Miami made it back to .500 (53-53) by beating the Nationals on Tuesday night. Hill was working the phones all the way until he left Marlins Park, which was about 1 a.m.
“These guys in this room know we believe in them, and believe in the talent in this room,” Hill said Wednesday morning. “Whether we’re able to make a deal or not, I think they know we have their back. We’re supportive of what they’re trying to do. We’re going to do what’s best to try to upgrade. But we’re not going to be foolish. We’re not going to be short-sighted. I think we understand where we’re at as an organization, but we also understand where we’re trying to go.
“I think that’s the balance that you strike at this time of year. We’ll see what happens these next two days. But there’s been a lot going on. You try to work through it, and see if what you’re trying to do makes sense, not just in the near term, but in the long term.”
Starting pitching is the priority. Second base also could be addressed, but it is not as big an objective as a controllable starter.
Miami also is not planning on taking any core player off its big league roster.
If need be, the club will take on salary.
“I would say we’re looking at everything,” Hill said. “Money deals. Prospects deals. We’re looking at everything.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Young team coming together that is dreaming the big dream.
Sound familiar, South Florida?
It should. The youthful Marlins of 2014 have some similarities to the miracle Marlins of 2003. The team, which in the words of Juan Pierre, “shocked the world!”
Monday’s 7-6 comeback win, after trailing by six, was the team’s most impressive late-rally since the ’03 squad came back from 9-2 down at Boston.
The Marlins of ’14 have been a stunning surprise, reaching the .500 mark (53-53) after losing 100 a year ago.
Hopeful of making a push that would “shock the world” once more, the Marlins’ front office is in full buyer mode as Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
Miami has put its name in the hat for Boston’s Jon Lester. If the asking price is too high (which is obviously is), there may not be a fit for Lester in Miami. Lester for Christian Yelich? No thanks.
However, if Lester goes out West to the Dodgers, then other potential trade chips may surface.
Say Lester does go to the Dodgers, what’s next for Miami? Why not make a pitch for one of the greatest names in Marlins’ history?
The Marlins should at least give consideration to returning Josh Beckett to the place where he was the World Series MVP 11 seasons ago.
Lester’s arrival could mean the Dodgers don’t have room for Beckett in their rotation. If that’s the case, Beckett could be a natural to help Miami attempt another improbable run.
Becket is a former teammate of Miami manager Mike Redmond. Beckett still has an affection for the Marlins, the team that made him the No. 2 overall pick in 1999.
Clearly not the overpowering right-hander he was at age 23 in ’03, but at 34, Beckett knows how to pitch. Let’s not forget, he no-hit the Phillies earlier in the season. He’s not throwing 95-plus any more, but he has become a crafty pitcher. The fierce competitor is still there, and he has had success pitching more off his breaking ball.
Beckett would be a good influence on a young rotation that would certainly benefit by the presence of a proven veteran.
Beckett has publicly said he isn’t sure if 2014 will be his final season. If it is, why not let the two-time World Series champion go out playing for the organization where it all started?
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins are seeking a game-changing starter, and Jon Lester would be the ideal candidate to help the young club make a playoff push. But at what price?
Boston, in the market for outfield help, would seek Christian Yelich in return for Lester, a two-time World Series champion. Miami has no interest in parting with a 22-year-old pure hitter with All-Star potential.
In fact, the Marlins are not willing to part with any core players on their big league roster.
It’s unclear if the Marlins are continuing to pursue Lester for a lesser package. But what is clear is the front office is scrambling to make a move or two by Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Lester, a free agent after the season, would be a rental in Miami. The Marlins ideally are seeking a starter they can control beyond 2014. A possibility in Boston could be John Lackey, who also has World Series experience. The price would be much less for Lackey than Lester.
Lackey is signed through 2015, and his salary will be tendered at the league minimum because he underwent a second Tommy John surgery. That language was written into his current contract.
If Tampa Bay were to make David Price available, the Marlins would have heavy interest.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Winning eight of nine has the Marlins in complete “buy mode” as Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
It appears the club is aiming high in its search for veteran help to make a playoff push.
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio, Miami is one of seven teams who have reached out to the Red Sox regarding Jon Lester.
If the front office is looking to send a signal to the clubhouse and South Florida fan base, pulling off a deal for the two-time World Series champion would do the trick.
Lester, owed just over $4 million for the rest of the season, would be a rental, because he will be a free agent in the fall.
The asking price in terms of prospects would certainly be high. So the question would be how much Miami would be willing to give up for a shot at making a serious push in the final two months.
Bowden reported the Blue Jays, Brewers, Mariners, Cardinals, Dodgers and Orioles also have expressed interest in Lester.
The Marlins are suddenly rejuvenated after taking six of seven at Atlanta and Houston. On Monday night, the club pulled off its biggest comeback of the year — rallying to a 7-6 victory over the Nationals after trailing by six.
Ideally, the Marlins would like more than a rental. They’d prefer a starter with controllable years. None of the candidates would make the immediate impact of Lester.
The Marlins are in a tricky spot because they are a game under .500, and have plenty of ground to make up. They’re six games behind the Nationals and 5 1/2 games behind the Braves.
Miami has greatly exceeded expectations, and also are looking for a second baseman.
The rotation has been without Jose Fernandez since May, when the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery.
Miami is open to moving prospects, but is trying to avoid dealing Andrew Heaney.
The Marlins also are looking to avoid moving anyone off their active roster.
– Joe Frisaro
HOUSTON — Five days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and Giancarlo Stanton remains not available. This is no big revelation to those around the Marlins, but it remains the most asked question to those on the outside.
Occasionally, the Marlins will field a call from a club hoping to hear otherwise. The answer is always an emphatic — not available.
Five days before the deadline, the Marlins are hoping to become buyers. Winning four of five to open their road trip has raised optimism and hope they can make a playoff push.
A starting pitcher is on their shopping list, but the urgency could subside if Brad Hand and Jacob Turner reach their potential in a hurry. Hand is doing so, coming off an impressive two straight wins of throwing at least seven innings.
At Minute Maid Park on Friday night, Hand threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Miami’s 2-0 win over the Astros.
Turner will start on Sunday at Houston.
Adding an experienced arm to the rotation could benefit the entire staff, as well as energize the clubhouse. But the deal has to make sense in order to pull the trigger.
Brad Penny, currently at Triple-A New Orleans, is another option in his attempt to return to the big leagues for the first time since 2012.
Pitching aside, the Marlins also have made finding a regular second baseman a high priority. Ideally, they’d like a speedy middle infielder to hit at the top of the order, either first or second.
The candidate doesn’t necessarily have to be big league proven. Someone at Double-A or above and is considered big league ready would fit the profile.
The way the team has trended the past week has increased the club’s interest in buying.
– Joe Frisaro
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