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Haren situation creates uncertainty

MIAMI — The Marlins have taken so many steps to create franchise and roster stability. It really is a different culture now than, say, in 2012, when the team sold its fan base sizzle — immediately saw that wasn’t working — and abruptly sold off most of the parts less than a year later.

Things are much more settled now. Manager Mike Redmond had his contract extended through 2017. Giancarlo Stanton, convinced promising pieces were in place for the foreseeable future, bought in and signed the richest contract in North American sports history — 13 years, $325 million.

The offseason has thus far been a big success, with the additions of Dee Gordon, Michael Morse, Mat Latos, Martin Prado and more. The club is even flirting with signing Ichiro Suzuki as a backup outfielder.

For all the positive momentum the team has generated, it is a bit surprising the club has gotten into a bit of a bind with Dan Haren.

It was no secret Haren’s preference was to play on the West Coast. Yet, knowing that is where Haren’s heart was, Miami still included him in the seven-player deal with the Dodgers on Dec. 10.

Now, Miami is covered financially, because the Dodgers are covering the $10 million owed to Haren. And if he retires or is traded, the Marlins still get cash considerations from L.A., believed to be $10 million.

The question that hasn’t been completely answered is why get Haren in the first place? Perhaps the team truly believed he would pitch in Miami, or it wanted the cash considerations to cover other areas of its payroll. Latos is projected to get around $8.4 million in arbitration, so the money would come in handy there.

Gordon, obviously, was the centerpiece of the deal. But Miami may have been able to land him for Andrew Heaney alone. On the same day, Heaney was spun to the Angels for second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Miami also acquired infielder Miguel Rojas, but parted with reliever Chris Hatcher, infielder Enrique Hernandez and catching prospect Austin Barnes.

Until the Haren impasse is resolved, we don’t know exactly what the return will be for Miami. What it has created is some confusing uncertainty.

Joe Frisaro

Trading Haren most likely option

MIAMI — The writing is on the wall regarding how the Dan Haren situation will play out.

Expect the Marlins to trade the 34-year-old right-hander to a club out West. Haren has already informed the team that he prefers to pitch closer to home, and with a team that has Spring Training in Arizona.

From what I’ve heard, there is a market for Haren, and the Marlins will do their best to work out a deal that accommodates both parties. Those talks are already underway.

Now, Haren hasn’t completely closed the door on reporting to Spring Training with Miami. From a business perspective, that makes sense. He is keeping his options open, and not walking away from $10 million.

The Marlins were giving Haren as much time as he needed to make up his mind. With that being the case, if he truly intended to be part of Miami’s plan, why inform the club shortly before New Years Day that he still hoped to pitch closer to home? He could have taken more time to make his decision.

The last thing the Marlins need is to have a player in camp who may not want to be there. Sure, if he arrived for camp, everyone might say the right things the first few days, weeks or months. But at some point over a long season there is adversity. What then? The front office and manager Mike Redmond have worked too hard the past couple of years to get everyone to “buy in.” They have done their best to avoid distractions, not work around them.

The Marlins had a similar situation with a player on the fence about joining the club in 2012. Yunel Escobar, acquired in the November trade with Toronto, was being asked to switch from shortstop to third base. Initially, Escobar said he would do so, but then had a change of heart.

Miami traded Escobar to the Rays a few weeks later for Derek Dietrich.

My guess is the Marlins will find a fit for Haren pretty soon.

Joe Frisaro

Haren not intending on joining Marlins

MIAMI — Dan Haren has informed the Marlins that his preference remains to pitch out West, and for a team that has Spring Training in Arizona. The 34-year-old California native had been weighing his options sinced he was traded to Miami from the Dodgers on Dec. 10.

If Miami cannot work out a trade, it is not clear yet if the 12-year big league veteran will retire.

Haren’s decision does not change the terms of the deal.

The Marlins were aware of Haren’s intentions to pitch closer to home prior to including him in the seven-player trade with the Dodgers at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. In the blockbuster deal, Miami also acquired second baseman Dee Gordon and infielder Miguel Rojas for Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes.

As part of the trade, the Dodgers agreed to pay the $10 million Haren is signed for in 2015. The Marlins are still receiving a cash consideration from the Dodgers, believed to be $10 million, even if the club is able to trade the right-hander.

The only West Division team that has Spring Training in Florida is Houston. It is unclear if Haren would accept a deal for a central division club that trains in Arizona.

Joe Frisaro

Unpopular trade may turn out right for Marlins

“What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.” — Howard Cosell

MIAMI — The words of Howard Cosell, the late broadcasting legend, can certainly apply to the Marlins’ controversial 12-player trade with the Blue Jays two offseasons ago.

Few moves in any sport created as much negative backlash as what the Marlins received for dealing several high-priced, popular players after the inaugural
season at Marlins Park.

Here’s a refresher for one of the most criticized deals in recent MLB history.

On Nov. 19, 2012, Miami completed a deal that sent Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto for Henderson Alvarez,
Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino.

As unpopular as the trade was, Marlins’ ownership insisted it was the right thing to do.

Yes, the trade was a money purge, ridding Miami of $163.75 million in guaranteed salaries owed through 2018. Yes, the trade made the club younger, and in the short-term meant more losing. That clearly happened with a 100-loss campaign in 2013. And to the Marlins, yes, the deal was necessary because it helped reset the culture in a clubhouse in need of changing. Mike Redmond replaced Ozzie Guillen as manager, and the organizaiton now has a “team first” mentality.

Why rehash one of the darkest days in Marlins’ history today? Because of how that blockbuster continues to influence the roster overall as we head into 2015.

Four players directly involved in the deal remain: Alvarez, Hechavarria, Mathis and Nicolino. Alvarez, an All-Star in ’14, is a top of the rotation fixture.
Hechavarria was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop. Mathis is a highly-respected backup catcher, and Nicolino was the Organizations Top Minor League pitcher last season.

Apply the six degrees of separation theory to the trade, and seven more players with links to the Toronto trade are now with the organization — infielder
Derek Dietrich, right-hander Jarred Cosart, right-hander Mat Latos, second baseman Dee Gordon, right-hander Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and outfielder Austin Wates.

Each of these players is connected, either directly or indirectly, to the Blue Jays’ deal.

Haren’s situation remains up in the air, because he is considering either retiring of requesting a trade to a West Coast team. But Cosart and Latos are
projected to be in the rotation. Gordon will be the starting second baseman, while Dietrich, Rojas and Wates will be in Spring Training competing for bench

Cosart and Wates, for example, were acquired in July from the Astros in a package of players that included Marisnick. Enrique Hernandez was also part of that trade. At the Winter Meetings a few weeks ago in San Diego, Hernandez was part of the trade with the Dodgers that brought in Gordon, Haren and Rojas.

Taking it a step further, moving the $163.75 million off the books, also gave the Marlins the financial flexibility to sign Giancarlo Stanton, their MVP-
candidate, to the richest contract in North American sports history — 13 years, $325 million.

It’s often said, you can’t measure the true impact of a trade until three or four years later. In the Marlins’ case, that big deal, as unpopular as it ws at the time, may end up being right after all.

Six degrees of Marlins trade with Blue Jays

Nov. 19, 2012

To Blue Jays: RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, SS Jose Reyes, C John Buck, INF Emilio Bonifacio

To Marlins: RHP Henderson Alvarez, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, C Jeff Mathis, INF Yunel Escobar, OF Jake Marisnick, LHP Justin Nicolino, RHP Anthony DeSclafani

Dec. 4, 2012

To Rays: INF Yunel Escobar

To Marlins: INF Derek Dietrich

July 31, 2014

To Astros: OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes

To Marlins: RHP Jarred Cosart, INF Enrique Hernandez, OF Austin Wates

Dec. 10, 2014

To Dodgers: INF Enrique Hernandez, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, C Austin Barnes.

To Marlins: 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Haren, INF Miguel Rojas

Dec. 11, 2014

To Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani, C Chad Wallach

To Marlins: RHP Mat Latos

Joe Frisaro

Wheeling and dealing at frantic pace

MIAMI — When the Marlins said they were open to making moves to improve, they weren’t kidding. The front office swung two trades on Friday that capped a frantic three-weeks in which six trades and one major free agent signing were completed.

You have to go back to the offseason in 2005 to find a time when the Marlins made six trades in a three-week span. The difference then was the club parted with established core players like Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo. Those moves were prompted by the fact the organization’s bid to secure funding for a new ballpark fell through.

This year, the team has made significant upgrades, bringing in first baseman Michael Morse, second baseman Dee Gordon, right-hander Mat Latos and third baseman Martin Prado.

Dan Haren, who may opt to retire, was acquired, as were David Phelps, Andre Rienzo and Aaron Crow.

“We felt like we needed more offense at first base,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “We felt we needed a true four hole hitter, to hit behind the big man [Giancarlo] Stanton. And it wasn’t on the immediate priority list, but as the meetings unfolded in San Diego, and it became clear we could access Dee Gordon, I wanted Dee Gordon, because he’s a game-changer. His speed is a game-changer.”

Marlins major moves since Thanksgiving:

Nov. 28: RHP Aaron Crow (Kansas City) for Brian Flynn, Reid Redman
Dec. 10: 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Haren, INF Miguel Rojas (Dodgers) for LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, INF Enrique Hernadez, C Austin Barnes
Dec. 10: RHP Andre Rienzo (White Sox) for LHP Dan Jennings
Dec. 11: RHP Mat Latos (Reds) for RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C Chad Wallach
Dec. 17: Signed free agent first baseman Michael Morse, two-years, $16 million
Dec. 19: 3B Martin Prado, RHP David Phelps (Yankees) for 1B Garrett Jones, RHP Nathan Eovaldi, RHP Domingo German
Dec. 19: RHP Kendry Flores, RHP Luis Castillo (Giants) for 3B Casey McGehee

2005 Marlins Trades

Nov. 24: Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Guillermo Mota to Red Sox for Anibal Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia
Nov. 24: Carlos Delgado to Mets for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit
Dec. 2: Luis Castillo to Twins for Travis Bowyer, Scott Tyler
Dec. 5: Paul Lo Duca to Mets for Gaby Hernandez, Dante Brinkley
Dec. 7: Juan Pierre to Cubs for Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre, Renyel Pinto
Dec. 16: Ron Villone to Yankees for Ben Julianel

Joe Frisaro

Jones garnering interest on trade market

MIAMI — The Marlins have yet to officially announce the free agent signing of Michael Morse, but already the club has received calls from teams interested in Garrett Jones.

Morse’s arrival gives the Marlins some flexibility regarding Jones, who suddenly becomes available. Miami may decide to keep Jones, and use him as a left-handed bat off the bench, either at first base or in right field.

But most likely Jones will be dealt, and there are teams who have expressed interest, has learned.

Jones is signed for $5 million in 2015, and it doubtful Miami would keep his allocation as a bench player. One reason is Justin Bour gives the club a left-handed hitting first base alternative.

Bour, who showed promise after being called up from Triple-A New Orleans in September, could be used as a lefty bat off the bench. Although Morse will start at first, he has dealt with injuries, and he likely would get periodic days off.

Also defensively, Morse could be a candidate to be replaced in the late innings if Miami has the lead. Bour is solid in the field, and could assume that role.

Morse’s two-year deal, has learned, is in the $12 million range.

With Morse being Miami bound, the Marlins have addressed all of their primary offseason needs. They’ve added second baseman Dee Gordon, right-handers Mat Latos and Dan Haren and now Morse.

There is some uncertainty about Haren, because the right-hander is weighing whether to retire. Still, Miami is hopeful he will decide to pitch.

In terms of rounding out their roster, Miami is in the market for a fourth outfielder. They may have those candidates already headed to Spring Training. Non-roster invitees Austin Wates and Gole Gillespie each can play all three outfield spots, and may be the two frontrunners to win the job.

Jeff Baker becomes the primary pinch-hit option.

A lefty reliever may also be added to join Mike Dunn. Keep an eye on Andrew McKirahan, taken in the Rule 5 Draft off the Cubs’ roster. McKirahan will be given a strong look to make the club.

Joe Frisaro

After surgery, Redmond on the mend

MIAMI — The operation was a success, and now the recovery begins for Marlins manager Mike Redmond.

Redmond on Friday underwent surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon he sustained while playing tennis recently. Full recovery is about 10 weeks, but the Marlins manager will be ready for Spring Training in mid-February.

The Achilles’ injury hasn’t slowed Redmond down too much. He attended the Winter Meetings in San Diego, sporting a walking boot.

Redmond on Saturday took to Twitter, posting a picture of himself on crutches and in a cast. In his tweet, Redmond stated: “Picked up a new wheel yesterday!! Hopefully this one is faster then the last… On the Road to recovery. Go Fish”

Marlins manager Mike Redmond in good spirits after surgery.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond in good spirits after surgery.

Yelich, McGehee not options at first base

SAN DIEGO — If the Marlins acquire a speedster, they are open to moving Christian Yelich out of the leadoff spot. But don’t expect Miami to ask their Gold Glove-winning left fielder to change positions.

Because Yelich is athletic and he played a little first base in high school, there has been some buzz about moving the 23-year-old to first base.

The thinking is, Miami needs a power bat, and there are more choices who play corner outfield than first base. Atlanta’s Justin Upton is an example.

There were some rumors that Miami may trade for Upton to play left and switch Yelich to first. Before giving that idea much thought, let’s put the rumor to rest. No way is it happening.

First off, Yelich may have played some at first in youth baseball and as a prep star in Southern California. The reality is he didn’t play there enough to even seriously be considered a first base candidate, especially in the big leagues.

Secondly, Yelich just won the Gold Glove. He’s a rising star and deserves the respect to play where he is most comfortable.

Quite frankly, if Miami did approach Yelich about switching position, the conversation wouldn’t have been pretty. He doesn’t want to play first. End of story.

Besides, the Marlins feel they have the best outfield in the National League. They like Yelich in left, Marcell Ozuna in center and Giancarlo Stanton in right. All three are terrific defensively. Outfield is the strength of the club, and they aren’t going to risk making it a weakness.

There’s also been some talk about third baseman Casey McGehee perhaps moving to first if free agent Chase Headley signs.

Miami has limited interest in Headley. But the preference is for McGehee to stay at third. He’s been very strong there, and works nicely aside shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, a Gold Glove finalist.

Taking the stance Yelich will be in left and McGehee will remain at third makes it a little tricker to acquire a first baseman. Yet it is the path the team is taking.

Joe Frisaro

Should Marlins go after Chapman?

SAN DIEGO — All offseason the Marlins have made it very clear they are seeking a top of the rotation starter. The ideal candidate is an All-Star caliber pitcher who can eat up innings and keep the club in the playoff picture until Jose Fernandez returns around the All-Star Break.

It’s a reach for the sky wish, and one not easily attainable. Arizona lefty Wade Miley would fit the bill, and he still may wind up in Miami. But the trade return will be painful, most likely meaning the Marlins would have to part with their top prospect, Andrew Heaney.

This much is known, the Marlins are exploring a number of different scenarios. They’re open to creative thinking. So much so that they are considering converting newly acquired reliever Aaron Crow into a starter.

Perhaps the Marlins have learned something from Crow’s former club, the Kansas City Royals.

A main reason the Royals reached Game 7 of the World Series is because they had arguably the best bullpen in the game in 2014. Not many clubs could match their seventh, eighth and ninth inning trio.

Since finding the ideal starter isn’t easy, perhaps the Marlins should consider building a super bullpen. If they are leaning that way, Aroldis Chapman would be a logical option.

We don’t know if the Marlins are thinking this way, but what is clear is the Reds are open to trading Chapman, their fireball-throwing lefty closer.

Cuban-born, Chapman would be an immediate fan favorite in Miami. He also would make the entire pitching staff better.

The fact he is 26, and doesn’t reach free agency until 2017 means he could be with the Marlins at least two seasons. Entering his prime, he also is affordable. In 2015, he is set to make $5 million after collecting 36 saves and striking out 106 in 54 innings last season.

If the Marlins do acquire Chapman, then what happens to Steve Cishek? Teams have checked in on Cishek’s availability. Like Chapman, the 28-year-old is entering his second year of arbitration.

Cishek likely will have his salary raise to close to $6 million.

How to resolve Cishek’s situation could be simple. They could trade him for either a starter or a power bat. Or they can keep him, and use him in the eighth inning.

Cishek in the eighth and Chapman in the ninth would give the Marlins one of the top back ends of any bullpen in the National League. You’d have two proven closers. Cishek also has the personality to accept whatever role he is given, without grumbling.

The seventh inning candidates would be Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Bryan Morris, Carter Capps and Chris Hatcher. Immediately, Miami’s bullpen would become the envy of the league.

A powerhouse bullpen could be the answer to their starting pitching search, becuase the team would be able to shorten games. If the starters can keep the team in the game for five or six innings, Miami will like its chances to come out with a win.

It just may work out where Miami’s best chance to improve its rotation is by dramatically strengthening its bullpen.

Joe Frisaro

Shields unlikely for Marlins

SAN DIEGO — James Shields fits what the Marlins want, a top of the rotation veteran and proven innings-eater. But the right-hander doesn’t match up with the club’s budget.

Until the Royals ace in 2014 signs, you never completely close the door. But it is extremely unlikely the Marlins will sign Shields.

Miami’s payroll projects around $65 million, and Shields may end up signing for close to $100 million.

Although they appear out of the Shields’ sweepstakes, there is a confidence within the organization that the Marlins will make at least one significant move during the Winter Meetings, which start Monday and run through Thursday.

A top of the rotation starter and power bat are the team’s top two priorities. The trade route seems the most likely for the pitcher.

Miami is willing to trade prospects, and there is considerable interest from other clubs in Nathan Eovaldi, who could become a trade piece if a starter is added. Should that play out, where Miami adds an arm, and Eovaldi is dealt, that increases the chances Aaron Crow would get a chance to start.

The Marlins acquired Crow, previously a reliever for Kansas City, the day after Thanksgiving.

For Miami, there are lefty trade possibilities out there.

Arizona’s Wade Miley makes sense. The lefty is entering his first season of arbitration, and he topped 200 innings in ’14. The D-backs just acquired lefty Robbie Ray, which adds depth to their roster.

Detroit’s David Price is the most established. A former Cy Young Award winner, the veteran can step in and become an immediate ace. But the lefty is a free agent next year, so he would likely be a one-year alternative.

The Angels are open to trading lefty C.J. Wilson, who the Marlins coveted when he was a free agent in 2012. But Wilson is making $18 million in 2015, and $20 million in ’16.

If Miami made a deal with the Angels, Los Angeles would likely have to pick up at least half of the remaining contract.

Jon Niese of the Mets is another potential lefty, but New York would unlikely trade with a National League rival.

Cole Hamels of the Phillies could be a choice. But, like Niese, Philadelphia doesn’t appear open to moving their former World Series MVP to Miami.

Joe Frisaro


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