MIAMI — Spring Training should bring some interesting late-inning bullpen battles at Marlins’ Spring Training.
Carlos Marmol is now officially in the mix after his free agent signing was formally announced on Tuesday.
With a $1.25 million contract Marmol is basically guaranteed an Opening Day roster spot. The veteran right-hander has plenty of experience, which is a primary reason he was signed.
Marmol now fits into the mix among right-handed late-inning candidates. He will get a shot at filling a seventh or eighth inning role, along with A.J. Ramos and Carter Capps.
Mike Dunn is the late-inning lefty choice.
Miami has added more experienced depth to bridge the game to closer Steve Cishek.
“With the signing of Carlos, we add a proven reliever with experience in the late innings,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “We are thrilled to add a player of his quality to an already deep bullpen.”
Arquimedes Caminero is a hard-throwing right-hander, who threw some big league innings last year. Another lefty option is Dan Jennings.
A couple of non-roster invitee candidates are Chaz Roe and Henry Rodriguez.
The Marlins certainly have some power arms in the bullpen.
The competition will be interesting to follow when Spring Training gets underway on Sunday.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Signing Jeff Baker to a two-year contract fills yet another bench spot on a Marlins’ roster that appears to be filling up quickly.
Obviously, much can happen over the course of Spring Training, but heading into camp, reserve roles will be hotly contested.
The Marlins probably will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers. That’s subject to change, but it is unlikely the club will carry fewer than seven relievers.
Baker offers versatility because he can play first base, third base, second base and both corner outfield spots. The veteran also is a right-handed pinch-hit option for manager Mike Redmond.
Jeff Mathis is expected to be the backup catcher.
The frontrunner to be the fourth outfielder is Brian Bogusevic, acquired from the Cubs for Justin Ruggiano. A left-handed hitter, Bogusevic plays all three outfield spots, making him valuable because he can handle center.
Greg Dobbs, signed for $1.7 million, is the primary left-handed hitting pinch-hitter. Dobbs also can play first and third, and if needed, the corner outfield.
At the Winter Meetings, at least one team inquired about Dobbs’ availability. The Braves sought a left-handed bat off the bench, and had feeler talks with Miami about Dobbs.
Dobbs signed his one-year extension during the 2013 season, so it is understood that he will stay in Miami.
Baker, Mathis, Dobbs and Bogusevic are all on the 40-man roster, and they appear to be the favorites to claim four of the five bench spots.
If necessary, Furcal, signed to play second basem, could back up Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop.
The way the roster is shaping up, there could be one bench position remaining.
Reed Johnson and Ty Wigginton are among the non-roster invitees with plenty of big league experience. Johnson could emerge as the choice as the fifth outfielder.
Wigginton is in the mix at first or third base.
Those two aren’t the only non-roster invitees who will be seekign to win a job.
The new additions certainly impacts infielders Donovan Solano and Ed Lucas, two key players last year.
Solano started most of the year at second, but he can play shortstop and third. Perhaps that will give him an edge. Lucas plays all four infield spots, and he was a right-handed platoon option candidate at first base until Baker signed.
Derek Dietrich, a left-handed hitter who plays second and third, also becomes a long-shot after the offseason pickups. The same holds true for center fielder Jake Marisnick, unless he wins the starting job over Marcell Ozuna.
The goal of the front office was to create as much competition as possible, and make tough choices for the front office and coaching staff. Mission accomplished.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — A suggestion to Marlins catchers — hydrate before Spring Training begins, and pay particularly close attention during blocking drills.
Spring Training has the potential to be a wild one for Miami’s backstops.
The Marlins have actively added some live arms this offseason, especially to their bullpen. Power arms is clearly the trend throughout the game. Miami now has a number of hard-throwers, equipped with 99-100 mph fastballs. The downside is these hard throwers occasionally miss their targets. When doing so, they are prone to throwing wild pitches.
Carlos Marmol is the latest to join the list. The Marlins reached agreement on a one-year, $1.25 million deal with the right-hander on Thursday, who is scheduled to be in Miami to take his physical on Friday.
Marmol has electric stuff, when it is over the plate. Last year, when he pitched for the Cubs and Dodgers, he threw five wild pitches in 49 innings.
Marmol is not alone on having a wild side. Carter Capps, acquired from Seattle for Logan Morrison, registered five wild pitches in 59 big league innings last year. Capps also has reached 100 mph.
Then there is non-roster invitee, Henry Rodriguez, who boasts a 100 mph fastball. Rodriguez had two wild pitches in 22 innings last year, and 36 in 148 MLB games.
If the Marlins can harness the command of these power arms, watch out. In the meantime, catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeff Mathis need to be ready for a busy Spring Training.
Ryan Webb, now with the Orioles, paced the Marlins’ relievers in wild pitches last year with four. They came over 80 1/3 innings.
Here is a closer look at some of the relievers who will be Spring Training with the Marlins.
Wild pitches in 2013
Carter Capps: 5 (59 innings pitched)
Henry Rodriguez: 2 (22 IP, 20 walks)
Carlos Marmol: 5 (49 IP, 40 BBs)
Chaz Roe: 1 (22 1/3 IP, 13 BBs)
Dan Jennings: 3 (40 2/3 IP, 16 BBs)
– Joe Frisaro
Marmol has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Marlins. The 31-year-old right-hander is scheduled to be in South Florida on Friday to take his physical.
Marmol, who has 117 career saves, has tuned up for the season by pitching Winter League Ball for Licey in the Dominican Republic.
Licey is playing in the Caribbean Series in Venezuela.
On Wednesday night, Marmol collected the save for the Dominican Republic, tossing an eight-pitch ninth inning, with seven strikes. The right-hander struck out one and his fastball was 94-96 mph.
The Marlins had been seeking a veteran reliever with closer experience to be insurance for Steve Cishek. Marmol will compete for the eighth inning setup spot. Carter Capps and A.J. Ramos are the other favorites to win right-handed roster spots.
Mike Dunn is a lefty who will be in the bullpen.
Right now, it appears five of the seven bullpen spots are set. But circumstances are subject to change once Spring Training opens on Feb. 16.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Until the final days of a busy offseason the Marlins remain active in their search for additional depth.
The latest pickup is Jeff Baker, who offers flexibility at a number of positions.
Baker’s two-year, $3.7 million deal will be announced at the completion of his physical examination.
Adding Baker creates even more competition for roster spots when Spring Training gets underway on Feb. 16 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
All the moves over the past few months will give the team a new look, as well as give manager Mike Redmond, his staff and the front office plenty to thinking about in Spring Training.
The Marlins are expected to carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers.
Here is a look at how the competition for position players is shaping up:
Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the club’s top offseason pickup, will be the starting catcher. The veteran, who won a World Series title with the Red Sox, is a switch-hitter who will bat somewhere in the middle of the order. Veteran Jeff Mathis will be the backup. For Rob Brantly, the Opening Day catcher last year, it will be a camp where he will look to make strides. But barring injury, Brantly is pretty much set to open the year at Triple-A New Orleans.
First base: Garrett Jones signed a two-year deal in December. The biggest question is whether he will hit lefty pitching. The Marlins are going to give him a shot. But if he struggles against Southpaws, a platoon situation is likely. Baker is a candidate to platoon, as is Ty Wigginton, a non-roster invitee.
Second base: Rafael Furcal, a former All-Star shortstop, is making the switch to second. Offering depth is Baker, as well as Donovan Solano, Ed Lucas and Derek Dietrich.
Shortstop: Adeiny Hechavarria has tremendous talent and upside. Key will be if he has progressed as a hitter after a rough 2013. Who backs up will be something to watch. Solano is an option, so is Lucas. Furcal also is an option for depth.
Third base: This will be one of the most watched spots in Spring Training. Casey McGehee was signed after turning in a strong season in Japan. Again, Baker is in the mix to back up. There will be plenty of competition. Lucas, Solano, Dietrich and Wigginton will get a look. Greg Dobbs fits at third base and first base. But the veteran appears to be the primary lefty pinch-hit specialist.
Left field: Christian Yelich will enter his first full season in the big Leagues. The 22-year-old left-handed hitter has the makings of a future star. Some corner outfielders in the mix for depth are non-roster invitees Reed Johnson, Matt Angle and Joe Benson. Kyle Jensen and Jimmy Paredes are already on the 40-man roster.
Center field: Marcell Ozuna is the frontrunner, but he is coming back from left thumb surgery. Brian Bogusevic is expected to make the team as a reserve. Jake Marisnick and Brent Keys are on the 40-man roster.
Right field: Giancarlo Stanton looks to have a bounce back year after a disappointing 2013. An All-Star in 2012, Stanton has more protection in the order this year. Baker and Paredes provide depth. If need be, Ozuna to play right field.
– Joe Frisaro
But growing up, Aikman was a multi-sport athlete, and he had the skills to stand out in baseball.
Stan Meek, the Marlins vice president of scouting, was an assistant baseball coach at the University of Oklahoma when Aikman played football for the Sooners in the mid-1980s.
Meek recalls former Sooners football coach Barry Switzer giving Aikman approval to also play baseball. The quarterback declined.
There were days after spring football practice where Aikman would drift over to the baseball field to check out the program.
“He’d sit down the right field line and watch practice,” Meek said. “He did that several times. I’d say, ‘Hey, go swing a bat a little bit.’ He’d say, ‘Coach, I’m sorry, I better stay with football.’ “
Had Aikman, now a TV analyst for Fox, given baseball a shot, he projected as a power-hitting outfielder.
“Aikman probably would have been a four or five hole hitter in our lineup, and played right field,” Meek said. “We already had the blessing of Barry Switzer to do it.”
Aikman eventually transferred to UCLA, and of course, he went on to a storied career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Meek remembers the days when Aikman was a touted baseball prospect.
“He was turned in really highly by the scouting bureau coming out of high school as a baseball guy,” Meek said. “But people backed off because he had such a commitment to play football. It paid off for him.”
A few years ago, Aikman did get a taste of the big leagues when he was part of the group that owned the Padres.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins still have some offseason shopping to do before Spring Training opens on Feb. 16.
The club is in the market for a right-handed hitter to come off the bench. A veteran on Miami’s list is outfielder Vernon Wells.
The 35-year-old was designed for assignment by the Yankees earlier this month, and he is a free agent.
Wells batted .233 with 11 homers in 2013, his lone season with the Yankees.
Miami covets a right-handed hitting outfielder to fill the role vacated when Justin Ruggiano was traded to the Cubs. In that deal, Miami obtained Brian Bogusevic, who is a left-handed hitter.
Bogusevic can play all three outfield positions, and he is expected to be the club’s fourth outfielder.
If the Marlins come to terms with Wells, he would be a right-handed option as either a pinch-hitter or spot starter.
The 2014 season will be the last in Wells’ seven-year, $126 million contract. The Yankees are on the hook for $2.4 million of Wells’ salary this season, with the Angels picking up the remaining $18.6 million.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins Minor League managers are pretty much set.
Andy Haines, who managed Class A Jupiter last year, has been named manager of Triple-A New Orleans.
Former big league catcher, Brian Schneider, has joined Miami’s organization and he will manage the Hammerheads in Jupiter.
The Marlins have yet to officially announce the hirings.
Andy Barkett returns to manage Double-A Jacksonville, and Dave Berg is back to manage low Class A Greensboro.
The Marlins are in the process of interviewing possible replacements for Tarrick Brock, who left the organization to be the Astros’ first base coach.
Brock had been Miami’s Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Negotations went down to the deadline, and Marlins reached agreements on deals with Giancarlo Stanton and reliever Mike Dunn.
Stanton will make $6.5 million. Cishek is set to earn $3.8 million, and Dunn will receive $1.4 million.
By agreeing, all three avoid going through an arbitration hearing.
The MLB salary arbitration exchange deadline was Friday at 1 p.m. ET.
Per team policy, if the Marlins had not reached deals by the deadline, each player’s salary would have been decided at a hearing in February.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins face a 1 p.m. ET on Friday deadline to come to contract terms with their three arbitration-eligible players.
But according to a league source, barring a dramatic change of events, Miami will not be locking up slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term contract. At least, such an agreement would not take place on Friday.
Friday is the salary arbitration exchange date for all qualifying players.
Stanton is arbitration eligible for the first time. The 24-year-old slugger has belted 117 home runs since being called up from Double-A Jacksonville in 2010, and he is one of the premier right fielders in the game.
For months, the Marlins stated publicly that they would entertain signing Stanton to a multi-year contract.
“It’s not going to happen,” the league source said.
It’s unclear if serious long-term discussions occurred. Indications are, the idea was at least discussed. It’s also been reported that Stanton may not be willing to remain in Miami past his target date to reach free agency. That will be after the 2016 season.
Even without a long-term deal, the Marlins are hoping to avoid an arbitration hearing with Stanton.
The club has a policy to break off negotiations after the salary exchange deadline. If that occurred, the Marlins and Stanton’s representatives would present their offers, and an arbitration panel would decide at a hearing in February the slugger’s salary for 2014.
Stanton, closer Steve Cishek and lefty reliever Mike Dunn are Miami’s three arbitration players.
Stanton made $537,000 last year. His salary is expected to jump to about $7 million.
Even without a multi-year contract, the Marlins plan on retaining Stanton at least for the 2014 season. The club could sign him on a season-to-season basis until 2016. In that case, there would be plenty of trade speculation, and chances are, the longest he would remain a Marlin is two more years.
– Joe Frisaro