Miami Marlins Rumors

Miami Marlins trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Aaron Crow To Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Marlins right-hander Aaron Crow is slated to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery tomorrow, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (on Twitter).

The unfortunate reality has been the expected outcome for Crow for about a week’s time now. Losing Crow for the year and losing Preston Claiborne for at least one month has thinned out Miami’s bullpen bullpen depth, and those injuries are likely a driving factor behind the team’s reported interest in adding a bullpen upgrade.

The Marlins sent left-hander Brian Flynn and Minor League righty Reid Redman to the Royals to acquire Crow this winter, but the former first-round pick won’t throw a pitch in his new environment this season. Crow delivered generally strong ERA and strikeout marks for the Royals from 2011-13, working exclusively out of the bullpen, but he struggled in 2014; Crow’s ERA spiked to a career-worst 4.12, and he posted the worst K/9 (5.2) and ground-ball (43.2%) marks of his career.

Miami acquired Crow in the hope that it was buying low on a previously successful reliever with two years of team control remaining at a not-unreasonable price. Crow is earning $1.975MM this year after avoiding arbitration for the second time. Speculatively speaking, the injury presents the possibility that Crow will be non-tendered next winter. Miami’s payroll is among the league’s lowest, so the preference may be to cut Crow loose and try to re-sign him to a cheaper deal. However, that also poses the team with the risk of losing Crow and receiving nothing from the trade that brought him to Miami in the first place.

The Royals selected Crow with the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and while he didn’t develop as they’d hoped in the rotation, he’s spent four full seasons in a Major League bullpen. In 233 2/3 Major League innings, Crow has a 3.43 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, a 49.2 percent ground-ball rate and an average fastball of 94 mph.


Marlins To Re-Sign Nick Masset

The Marlins have re-signed righty Nick Masset, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports on Twitter. Miami will add Masset back on a new minor league deal after releasing him a week ago.

Masset, 32, returned to action last year after dealing with career-threatening shoulder issues. The results were not great — a 5.80 ERA in 45 innings — but he was working at Coors Field and was still not far removed from surgery. More promisingly, Masset posted solid groundball numbers and a 4.33 FIP.

This spring, Masset allowed nine earned runs with just three strikeouts against four walks in 11 total innings. It was not terribly surprising, then, that he failed to crack the Marlins pen and that the club released him before being forced to pay a $100K retention bonus. Masset will now have a chance round back into form at Triple-A while providing a useful depth option for the Fish.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Sunday

The rosters for Opening Day have been officially submitted this afternoon. Several minor league signees have won jobs with their clubs and earned 40-man roster spots. Here are today’s additions:

  • The Orioles will purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s contract on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. The 25-man roster that the Orioles announced today included Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger at catcher, but not Lavarnway, who they had reassigned to the minors.
  • The Padres have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of catcher Wil Nieves. With Tim Federowicz out with a knee injury, Nieves will back up Derek Norris. As we noted when Nieves signed, his big-league salary will be $850K.
  • Ryan Madson has made the Royals‘ Opening Day roster, tweets MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan. Madson caps his comeback from multiple elbow injuries and his first appearance for Kansas City will be his first in the Majors since 2011.
  • The Nationals have announced on Twitter that second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Reed Johnson have made their Opening Day roster.
  • The Braves announced they have officially purchased the contracts of outfielders Eric Young, Jr. and Kelly Johnson, left-hander Eric Stults, and right-hander Cody Martin. The Braves cleared space on their 40-man roster by placing right-hander Arodys Vizcaino and outfielder Dian Toscano on the restricted list.
  • One name missing from the Braves‘ roster is Pedro Ciriaco, who was reported yesterday to have made the club. This is likely a procedural move, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (Twitter links), because the Braves placed Josh Outman on the 25-man roster instead of releasing him after the left-hander complained of shoulder tenderness. The move will also buy the Braves some time to look for an upgrade over Ciriaco, tweets Bowman.
  • The Phillies have announced outfielder Jeff Francoeur and infielder Andres Blanco have made the team. Francoeur is just one of four outfielders on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, so he could see time as Grady Sizemore‘s platoon partner in right field. The Phillies are now at their 40-man limit.
  • The Marlins have selected the contract of utility player Don Kelly, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Kelly earned his spot with solid Spring Training line of .270/.357/.324 in 42 plate appearances. Frisaro reports the 35-year-old will backup both the corner infield and outfield spots, as well as serving as the team’s emergency third catcher.


NL East Notes: Utley, Stanton, Marlins

Washington hasn’t had a baseball all-star game since the Senators hosted the game at RFK Stadium in 1969, but that’s about to change.  An announcement naming Nationals Park the host of the 2018 All-Star Game is expected to come on Monday, a source tells James Wagner of the Washington Post.  The Montreal Expos, the franchise that was moved to the District by MLB, hosted the game in 1982, but this will be the first game hosted by the Nationals.  Here’s more out of the NL East..

  • The feeling among some baseball executives is that Phillies star second baseman Chase Utley will eventually give in to a deal as the losing escalates in Philly, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  Cafardo adds that Utley, who has a no-trade clause, could be attracted to West Coast teams such as the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, or A’s.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently wrote that the Padres, Angels, and possibly the Giants could be among the teams with interest in the California native.
  • The Marlins‘ first order of business was signing Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term deal, but president of baseball operations Michael Hill knew that there was much more to be done beyond that, as Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald writes.  Hill and GM Dan Jennings spoke to Spencer about the inner workings of some of the club’s biggest offseason moves, including the signing of Michael Morse and the Martin Prado deal.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald spoke former GMs Jim Bowden and Dan O’Dowd plus Hall Of Fame journalist Peter Gammons to get their thoughts on the Marlins.  While going through each unit on the roster, they also touched on the new contracts given to outfielders Stanton and Christian Yelich.

Marlins Exploring Trade Market For Pitching

The Marlins are exploring possible trade options to bolster their pitching, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami is concerned about the rotation and, ideally, they’d like to add another starter. However, they could also use a bit more help in the bullpen and they wouldn’t be opposed to an upgrade there either.

Miami has seen some rocky performances from its starters this spring and the front office is starting to worry about the durability of the rotation.  No. 2 starter Mat Latos dealt with a left knee injury last season and had his elbow scoped in mid-October, so Miami is concerned about how he will hold up.  Meanwhile, Henderson Alvarez (left knee) and Jarred Cosart (blister) dealt with some less serious issues in March.

As for the bullpen, the Marlins’ depth took a hit this week when they learned that Aaron Crow will likely need season-ending Tommy John surgery.  Preston Claiborne will also be out for at least a month with a right shoulder injury.  Even if the bullpen is not as high of a priority for the Marlins at this time, it sounds like they’re very much open to adding some reinforcements there.

If the Marlins choose to stand pat, Frisaro notes that they have some viable in-house options.  Miami hopes that right-handed reliever Nick Masset, who was cut recently, agrees to join the club’s Triple-A affiliate, according to the MLB.com scribe.   For starting depth, the Marlins could turn to long relievers David Phelps and Brad Hand, though that would likely weaken the pen.


Minor Moves: Tomas, Oliver, Brignac, Zito

Here are today’s minor transactions from around baseball, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Diamondbacks have optioned Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, the team reports via Twitter. The club signed Tomas for $68.5MM over the offseason. He struggled both defensively and offensively this spring. A stint in Triple-A should give him time to adjust to the outfield and improve his plate approach.
  • Phillies Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver has elected free agency after he was outrighted, the club announced via Twitter. The hard throwing lefty has struggled with walks throughout his career. That continued this spring with 11 walks and 22 strikeouts in 12 and two-thirds innings. The club also announced on Twitter that they reassigned catcher Rene Garcia, first baseman Russ Canzler, and infielder Cord Phelps to Triple-A.
  • Marlins utility infielder Reid Brignac has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. In 905 major league plate appearances, Brignac has a .222/.266/.314 line.
  • Athletics pitcher Barry Zito has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. The former star is working his way back from a one-year hiatus. He posted a 4.79 ERA in 20 and two-thirds spring innings. The 37-year-old struck out 14 and walked five. A former ninth overall pick of the A’s, the southpaw struggled after moving across the Bay to San Francisco on a seven-year, $126MM contract. That deal concluded after the 2013 season.
  • The Red Sox have released Casey Crosby, Bryan LaHair, and Matt Hoffman per the MLB transactions page. Crosby was once a top prospect with the Tigers, but the 26-year-old lefty has yet to develop command. Lahair, 32, had a nice run with the Cubs in 2012 when he hit .259/.334/.450 with 16 home runs in 380 plate appearances. He spent the 2013 season in Japan and split 2014 between Cleveland’s Double and Triple-A clubs.
  • The Phillies have released shortstop Tyler Greene according to the MLB transactions page. Greene, an 11th round pick, was once rated among the Phillies’ best prospects. He missed the entire 2014 season and has never posted a strikeout rate below 33 percent at any level.
  • The Giants have released pitcher Edgmer Escalona per the MLB transactions page. Escalona pitched in parts of four seasons for the Rockies, accruing 100 innings. He has a career 4.50 ERA with 6.39 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9.
  • The Cubs have released lefty pitcher Francisley Bueno according to the transactions page. The 34-year-old has pitched in parts of four season for the Braves and Royals. The soft tossing lefty has a career 2.98 ERA with 4.92 K/9 and 1.79 BB/9 in 60 innings. He’s a pure platoon pitcher.
  • The Braves released former closer Matt Capps per MLB.com. The righty last appeared in the majors in 2012. He has a career 3.52 ERA with 6.53 K/9 and 1.72 BB/9. He’s thrown just 12 minor league innings over the last two seasons – both with the Indians.

(more…)


MLB Rules That Cosart Did Not Bet On Baseball

Major League Baseball has announced that its investigation into a gambling-related matter with Jarred Cosart revealed that the Marlins right-hander did not bet on baseball. Cosart has, however, been fined for violating an MLB rule by placing bets on other sports through a book maker. The league’s official statement is as follows:

“Major League Baseball has completed its investigation into Jarred Cosart’s possible connection to sports-related gambling. The investigation did not reveal any evidence to suggest that Cosart, who fully cooperated with the investigation, bet on baseball. Cosart has received an undisclosed fine for violations of Major League Rule 21(d)(3) that were revealed during the investigation. Major League Rule 21(d)(3) prohibits players from placing bets with illegal book makers, or agents for illegal book makers. This rule is strictly enforced and applies to gambling with illegal bookmakers on any sport or event.”

Cosart himself has also issued a statement, via press release from the Major League Baseball Players Association:

“I have never, nor would I ever, bet on the great game of baseball. Major League Baseball conducted a thorough investigation, and I cooperated fully with them and their investigators throughout that process. I’m sorry for any distractions this may have caused the Marlins, my teammates, coaches, and our incredible fans. I’m glad to bring closure to this situation before Opening Day and I look forward to a great season.”


Tyler Colvin Opts Out Of Marlins Deal

Outfielder Tyler Colvin has opted out of his contract with the Marlins and is now a free agent, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (on Twitter).

Formerly the 13th overall pick in the 2006 draft (by the Cubs) and the No. 75 prospect in all of baseball (per Baseball America prior to the ’09 season), Colvin has never developed the way many expected him to, but he’s seen a good chunk of Major League action in each of the past five seasons.

Last year, Colvin totaled 149 plate appearances with the Giants, slashing .223/.268/.381 — again showing plus power but difficulty getting on base. That’s been the story of Colvin’s career, as the outfielder/first baseman boasts an impressive .207 isolated power mark but has managed an overall batting line of .239/.287/.446.

Defensive metrics have never loved Colvin’s work, but he doesn’t rate horribly at any of the three outfield positions per Defensive Runs Saved. Ultimate Zone Rating considers him adequate on the corners and below-average in center (-12.4 per 150 games). Of course, while Colvin has 650 innings or more at all three outfield positions, all of his defensive sample sizes are still small enough that they should still be taken with a grain of salt.

Colvin likely hoped to crack the Marlins’ roster as a fourth outfielder and part-time first baseman, however when he signed, Miami had yet to add Ichiro Suzuki to its ranks. The Marlins’ outfield picture looks to be a difficult one to crack, so the 29-year-old Colvin will presumably hope to find a new Minor League deal with a team that presents a clearer path to a Major League roster spot.


Minor Moves: Gillespie, Buschmann, Constanza, Coffey

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Outfielder Cole Gillespie has accepted an assignment to Triple-A from the Marlins, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Gillespie, 30, had the opportunity to elect free agency but has chosen to remain within the organization. The former third-round pick (Brewers, 2006) split the 2014 season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, hitting a combined .243/.300/.311 in 81 plate appearances. He posted a .690 OPS in 33 PAs this spring.
  • The Rays have acquired Minor League right-hander Matt Buschmann from the Athletics, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). The 31-year-old, who is expected to serve as Minor League rotation depth, was a 15th-round pick of the Padres back in 2006 and has spent parts of six seasons at the Triple-A level. Last year, in his first and only season with Oakland, Buschmann worked to a 4.40 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 143 innings of Triple-A ball.
  • The Braves have released outfielder Jose Constanza and veteran right-handed reliever Todd Coffey, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The 31-year-old Constanza offers quite a bit of speed (298 Minor League steals) and posted perhaps surprisingly solid numbers with the bat in 2011, but he’s slumped to a .555 OPS in 121 PA since that debut. As for Coffey, the former setup man hasn’t pitched since 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, but he enjoyed a nice run from 2009-12 with the Brewers, Nats and Dodgers, pitching to a 3.76 ERA in 225 innings of relief. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets one more Braves release — veteran catcher Jesus Flores. The 30-year-old spent parts of five seasons as Washington’s backup catcher but hasn’t seen the Majors since 2012.

Offseason In Review: Miami Marlins

Miami tied its fortunes to star slugger Giancarlo Stanton, kicking off an incredibly busy offseason in which the organization announced its intentions to compete in 2015 and beyond.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades And Claims

Extensions

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

After a somewhat surprisingly promising 2014 campaign, many tabbed the Marlins as a team to watch heading in 2015. Expectations were that Miami would ramp up its competitive timeline somewhat and make a legitimate run at extending Giancarlo Stanton.

The Marlins did that and more by inking Stanton right off the bat, locking up outfield mate Christian Yelich in mid-March, and making a whole host of acquisitions in between. Fulfilling its assurances to Stanton, and using some — but not all — of the salary space that his back-loaded deal opened up, Miami methodically plugged holes all winter.

Michael Morse upgrades Garrett Jones at first for a reasonable price. Ichiro Suzuki provides a veteran fourth outfielder to go with the young trio of Stanton, Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna. Re-upping Jeff Mathis as the backup catcher is, perhaps, somewhat questionable given his anemic bat, but at least he’ll be cheap and offers the team rather a different skillset than does starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

The biggest move, surely, was the addition of speedy second baseman Dee Gordon. Miami is betting that 2014 was a breakout, not a brief uptick, for Gordon. It sacrificed a good bit of talent (and future flexibility) to do so: top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, interesting utility man Enrique Hernandez, useful reliever Chris Hatcher, and solid catching/utility prospect Austin Barnes.

That deal also left the Fish with a free roll on veteran righty Dan Haren, who will be joined by fellow trade acquisition Mat Latos in an interesting but hard-to-predict rotation. Those two arms are more or less opposites at this point: Haren has been a workhorse of declining quality, while Latos has had injury questions but nothing but quality results when healthy. It took another young arm and catching prospect to add Latos to the mix. Miami was not even sure when it made the deal to add Haren whether he would pitch for the team — he was included, in large part, as a mechanism for the Dodgers to kick in $10MM cash — but his decision to do so provides useful stability at the back of the rotation.

The other major bit of roster orchestration performed by president of baseball ops Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings was designed to upgrade the team at third. Miami bought low on Martin Prado from the Yankees (who had already bought low on him from the Diamondbacks), in turn selling low on talented-but-unpolished pitcher Nate Eovaldi (who had come to Miami as the crown jewel of the Hanley Ramirez trade). In turn, the team had to move incumbent Casey McGehee, who had an excellent but questionably sustainable comeback in 2014 and will now look to repeat with the Giants.

A host of the other moves listed above filled in smaller gaps and provided the team with some options.

Questions Remaining

In the immediate term, the Fish look like a pretty complete club. The outfield is a reasonable choice as one of the three best outfits in the game, while the infield seems in much better shape than last year. To be sure, the new trio of Gordon, Prado, and Morse has its fair share of questions. But there is good reason to prefer that group to what it replaced, by a fair margin.

The biggest question, perhaps, is at short. Adeiny Hechavarria has struggled at the plate and is not well-loved by defensive metrics. But the team obviously feels good about him, since it explored an extension. Indeed, last year was his best at the plate, he is only entering his age-26 season, and Hech seems to have all the tools to be quite a good defender.

That being said, if the Marlins are contending and Hechavarria is not performing, the possibility of a deal for another option cannot be ruled out. Likewise, the catching position does not presently look to be a strength and could ultimately require a temporary patch while the club awaits J.T. Realmuto‘s final developmental steps. The club has some reasonable options lined up elsewhere on the diamond — players like Donovan Solano, Jeff Baker, Don Kelly, and Jordany Valdespin come to mind — but looks thinner at short and catcher.

It is fair to wonder, too, whether an injury or two could expose some fault lines in the rotation. It is somewhat remarkable, really, that all of Eovaldi, Heaney, DeSclafani, Brian Flynn, and Jacob Turner are gone from the rotation mix, taking a lot of potential innings with them. While second overall pick Tyler Kolek is the new top dog in the system, he remains years away (even as third choice Carlos Rodon nears a big league job with the White Sox).

To be sure, things look solid as camp winds to a close. Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, and Tom Koehler will presumably join Latos and Haren while the team awaits the mid-season return of precocious ace Jose Fernandez. But the rest of the depth chart includes a somewhat questionable mix of swingmen (Brad Hand, David Phelps) and untested prospects (Jose Urena, Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley).

There is depth and quality in the pen, led by late-inning arms Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos, and Mike Dunn. For a second lefty, the club will go with the out-of-options Hand (after waiving Rule 5 pick Andrew McKirahan). The club went out and added Aaron Crow in hopes that he would bounce back in Miami, giving up Flynn to do so. But with Crow out with a torn UCL, the right-handed pen contingent will be drawn from the returning Bryan Morris and Carter Capps, offseason additions Phelps and Preston Claiborne, and veteran minor league free agents Nick Masset, Vin Mazzaro, Pat Misch, Chris Narveson, and Ryan Reid. We already know that the Fish attempted to bolster this group by pursuing Francisco Rodriguez; with Crow now gone (and a likely non-tender after the year), could they have a look at the still-unsigned Rafael Soriano or other veterans that have recently been set adrift?

Deal of Note

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins

The prevailing notion entering the winter was that the Marlins had to do something to “prove” to Stanton that the franchise was serious about winning, enticing him to commit for the long haul as he entered his second (and second-to-last) season of arbitration eligibility. It was expected, perhaps, that a series of additions earlier in the offseason might, in part, set up a spring extension.

Instead, Miami put the horse before the cart by making a record-setting contract with Stanton its first order of business. His youth and essentially unmatched power (in today’s game) made a huge guarantee an obvious requirement of any deal. But the final structure still managed to shock the industry, in large part due to its remarkable 13-year term, sixth-year opt-out, and backloaded payout.

It remains to be seen how things play out under this contract, of course, but it ensures Stanton will make an astronomical sum even if he is injured or experiences a severe production decline. Though Miami seems quite likely to achieve excellent value if Stanton opts out, there is some frightening downside. (And the deal makes all the more clear how well the Angels did to lock up the historically-excellent Mike Trout without having to dangle a seven-year player option on the deal’s back side.)

Overview

Stanton’s new contract kicked off an offseason of ever-cresting promise which culminated in the long-term signing of Yelich. Expectations are high, the Fish are a confident bunch, and the organization seems out to regain the trust of its fans. But expectations can be dangerous, as Miami knows all too well, and a postseason berth seems far from a certainty.

Then there’s the fact that Miami has sacrificed a good deal of its upper minor league talent in the last eight months. Indeed, five of the team’s six best prospects entering 2014 (per Baseball America) have since been traded. Many other, lesser-regarded young players have also seen their departure. Re-acquiring top-level prospect talent while rebuilding system depth — all while facing increasing arbitration costs and demands for spending at the big league level — will pose a significant challenge.

This is where the biggest long-term questions factor in: will the team’s on-field performance and popularity enable it to draw and earn, and will owner Jeffrey Loria continue to approve payroll increases? Needless to say, all of these questions are interconnected and remain impossible to predict at this stage.

As for the present season, the most interesting thing about the Fish may not be what they did, but what they might have done. The team was in on K-Rod, James Shields, and Hector Olivera, and will enter the year with the league’s lowest payroll. Miami was fairly aggressive at last year’s trade deadline; if it is in the hunt this year, there could be some fireworks yet to come.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.