Miami Marlins Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Purke, Jensen, Walters, Marks, Hermida, Orr

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has this week’s edition of his Minor League Transactions feature up, which, as usual, features several recent minor league signings. Here are a few highlights from his piece, as well as other minor moves from around the league…

  • After releasing him on Friday, the Nationals have re-signed lefty Matt Purke to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. Purke has never thrown to the potential that the team saw when they gave him a massive bonus to sign out of the 2011 draft, but now he will have a chance to rehab from Tommy John surgery without occupying a 40-man roster spot.
  • The Dodgers have acquired right-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman Kyle Jensen from the Marlins, the clubs announced. Jensen, 26, has yet to see playing time at the MLB level, but slashed .260/.331/.481 with 27 home runs last year in the PCL. Miami will receive cash or a player to be named later in return.
  • The Phillies have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, according to Eddy. The 29-year-old comes with 152 innings of big league experience, though he’s struggled to a 6.28 ERA in that time. Much of that work came with the 2012-13 Twins, where he posted  a 5.79 ERA in 101 innings. Walters has a 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 735 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level.
  • The D’Backs and left-hander Justin Marks have agreed to a minor league deal, also per Eddy. The 26-year-old Marks picked up his first two big league innings in 2014 and has a lifetime 5.02 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in Triple-A. Marks struggled overall in 2014 but was previously excellent against lefties, holding them to a .191/.301/.268 batting line in 2013. He, along with Vin Mazzaro, was one of two players acquired by the Royals from the A’s in exchange for David DeJesus back in 2010.
  • The Brewers announced last week that they have re-signed outfielder Jeremy Hermida and infielder Pete Orr to minor league deals. The 30-year-old Hermida once carried a significant amount of promise — he was the 11th overall pick in 2002 and hit .296/.369/.501 as a 24-year-old in 2007 — but hasn’t seen Major League action since 2012 with the Padres. Orr, 35, has seen MLB action parts of eight seasons, most recently with the Phillies in 2013. He is a career .257/.289/.328 hitter that is capable of playing all over the diamond. He hit .301/.329/.423 with the Brewers in Triple-A last year.
  • The Marlins have inked indy league second baseman Omar Artsen, Eddy reports. The 24-year-old Artsen spent last season playing in the Pecos League where he boasted a gaudy stat line of .397/.480/.576 with nine homers and 52 steals in 353 PA.

NL East Links: J. Upton, Marlins, Nats, Mets

To say it’s been an eventful few days in the NL East would be a colossal understatement, as the Marlins have reportedly finalized a record-setting 13-year deal with Giancarlo Stanton and the Braves have traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals. While those transactions are rightfully dominating the headlines, here are a few more notes from around the division…

  • With Heyward now in St. Louis, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that a trade of Justin Upton can’t be ruled out. Nightengale lists the Mariners as a strong suitor for Upton, should the Braves decide to market him. Upton recently dropped the Mariners from his no-trade list.
  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria tells Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald that he plans to surround Stanton with an improved lineup and can afford to go out and add a bat to hit behind him this offseason.
  • The Nationals have hired veteran scout Terry Wetzel as a special assistant to GM Mike Rizzo, reports MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby. Wetzel has 32 years of experience, including 17 seasons with the Royals and the past 15 seasons with the Rockies. He was named scout of the year once within each of those organizations.
  • The Mets, to this point, have had very few inquiries on pitchers Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). All three are said to be potentially available this winter, and I’d imagine that interest will pick up to an extent, particularly at the Winter Meetings.

Florida Notes: Marlins, Rays, Rodriguez, Ramos

New Cubs skipper Joe Maddon is excited about the Rays‘ list of candidates to take over in the dugout, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  “They’ve created a wonderful list, they really have,” Maddon said. “They’ve given themselves an opportunity to interview some really qualified people and make a typically very good Rays decision at the end of the day. I really believe that. You know it’s going to be well thought out, and they’re going to select a solid candidate to lead.”  More on the Rays and Marlins..

  • Marlins president Michael Hill explained to David Laurita of Fangraphs that the club considers a player’s locker room personality and character to be a somewhat significant part of player evaluation.  “I wouldn’t say it’s paramount, but it is part of our decision-making process,” Hill said. “We’re definitely mindful of it. It’s part of the checklist as we go through possibly acquiring a player. We want to try to make sure he fits who we are and who we’re trying to be.
  • Topkin also writes that the Rays figure to make several more 40-man moves and/or trades before the Rule 5 draft, even after dealing Jeremy Hellickson and Cesar Ramos.  Sean Rodriguez and Jose Molina appear to be trade candidates though Tampa Bay could instead swallow the $2.75MM to Molina.  Moving reliever Brandon Gomes, who is out-of-options, could also be a consideration along with dropping rostered minor leaguers like Mike Montgomery or infielder Tim Beckham.
  • A third-party scout in Puerto Rico who saw shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who came to the Rays in the Hellickson deal, was impressed by his recent showing. “Best prospect there, by far. … Super impressive … He’ll move to 2B … Top of order … Fearless … Advanced,” the scout told Topkin via text.
  • With the Rays looking to their upgrade offense, Topkin says it’s worth keeping an eye on Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and the Dodgers’ outfielder surplus.  Both clubs appear willing to eat significant salary to move those players.
  • Expecting the Rays to start spending big if they get a new stadium?  Don’t bank on it, writes Joe Henderson of The Tampa Tribune.


Florida Notes: Stanton, Rays Manager

The Marlins and slugger Giancarlo Stanton may be on the cusp of a 13-year, $325MM contract extension, but Stanton may be “playing a dangerous game,” writes Yahoo’s Jeff Passan. The Marlins under Jeffrey Loria and David Samson have bamboozled and excused their way out of spending money on the major league product. Passan wonders why Loria would eschew the methods that have made him money over the years. The rumored payday could be a “Faustian bargain” if the front office doesn’t properly fill the roster around Stanton.

  • Stanton’s negotiations are all about power – and not just home run power – says Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. As it stands, Stanton is still two years away from free agency. The rumored deal is expected to contain a no-trade clause and an opt-out after the 2019 season. Both clauses give Stanton leverage. He can potentially dictate where he’s traded, force a mid-contract extension, or hit the open market as a 30-year-old. To me, this mitigates the risk of Loria-being-Loria.
  • The Rays have concluded the first round of interviews for their open manager position, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Barry Larkin was the last of ten interviewees in the initial round. The club will step back before deciding how many candidates to bring back for a round of in-person interviews.
  • Andrew Velazquez and Justin Williams – the players acquired in the Jeremy Hellickson trade – were immediately ranked as the ninth and tenth best prospects in the Rays system by MLB.com, Topkin notes.

Marlins, Stanton Closing In On 13-Year, $325MM Extension

11:20pm: The opt-out clause being negotiated is expected to become effective after the 2019 season, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. That would essentially make the deal a five-year pact that provides Stanton an eight-year player option, which would be a unique arrangement. Most recently agreed-upon opt-out clauses can be exercised after the bulk of the contract has already been performed.

2:42pm: The Marlins and Stanton are close to agreeing to terms on a 13-year, $325MM contract that is expected to contain a no-trade clause and an opt-out clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

9:36am: Heyman reports that the two sides are very serious about getting a deal done, suggesting that it could end up being for a whopping 13 years. The two sides are said to be on the same page regarding money, Heyman writes, but one or two non-monetary issues still need to be worked out — perhaps a no-trade clause and/or an opt-out clause. One source characterized the negotiations as being on the 10-yard line.

As Heyman notes, the Marlins feel an increased need to lock up Stanton due to the fact that they have become discouraged about their ability to sign right-hander Jose Fernandez to a long-term deal of his own.

8:40am: ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that one possibility that has been discussed is a 12-year, $325MM contract (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Olney also wonders how the frightening, season-ending injury to Stanton has affected his perspective and influenced his willingness to accept a deal like this. As Olney notes, Stanton acknowledged after the injury that had the fastball which struck his face hit him just millimeters in a different direction, his injury could have been career-threatening.

FRIDAY, 7:39am: Stanton and the Marlins have been discussing an extension in the 12-year, $320MM range, tweets Rosenthal.

Stanton could earn something in the $35MM range for his final two years of arbitration, even without the extension,  so it seems that his free agent years are being valued under $30MM per season if those exact numbers hold.

THURSDAY, 5:14pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears that the $300MM+ deal being discussed could span as long as 12 years (Twitter link). That deal would run through Stanton’s age-36 season.

4:23pm: The Marlins and superstar right fielder Giancarlo Stanton are discussing a record-breaking $300MM contract extension that would span “at least” 10 seasons, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The two sides have also discussed shorter contracts, according to Rosenthal’s sources, but it’s not surprising to see Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe of the Wasserman Media Group, eyeing a record-setting figure. Stanton, who somewhat incredibly just turned 25 years old last week, is under team control through the 2016 season as things currently stand and is projected to earn $13MM in arbitration next year.

While there will be plenty of cynics that point to the Marlins’ history of fire sales, Miami GM Dan Jennings indicated earlier this week that the Fish would potentially be open to breaking club policy and including a no-trade clause if it meant locking up the game’s premier power hitter.

A $300MM commitment would set the record for the largest contract in Major League history. Currently, Miguel Cabrera is owed $292MM over the life of his contract, although that was actually a $248MM extension on top of two guaranteed contract seasons. In terms of the most amount of “new money” ever guaranteed on a contract, Alex Rodriguez‘s 10-year, $275MM contract is still setting the bar. Other examples of $200MM+ contracts include 10-year, $240MM contracts to both Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano, a 10-year, $225MM extension for Joey Votto and a nine-year, $214MM pact for Prince Fielder serve as other examples of $200MM+ deals for hitters. (Clayton Kershaw signed a seven-year, $215MM extension with the Dodgers last offseason as well.)

Though the number is staggering, one thing separating Stanton from other $200MM+ deals for hitters is that a 10-year contract would cover a large portion of his prime and not much of his decline phase. Stanton would be 34 years old at the end of a 10-year pact, while players such as Rodriguez, Cabrera and Votto will be approaching or will have surpassed their 40th birthdays.

Stanton led the National League with 37 homers this season and is a lifetime .271/.364/.540 hitter with 154 homers in 634 games. His best season at the plate came this past year, when he batted .288/.395/.555 in 145 games before being struck in the face by a fastball — a frightening injury that ultimately cost him the remainder of the season. He’s one of the finalists for the NL MVP Award this season, though he’ll have to contend with Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen.


Minor Moves: Vasquez, Mejia, Allen, Wren, Owens

Right-handers Esmerling Vasquez and Miguel Mejia have signed with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball, MLBTR has learned. The 31-year-old Vasquez last appeared in the Majors with the Twins in 2012. He has a lifetime 4.86 ERA in 168 2/3 MLB innings. Mejia, meanwhile, has spent the past two seasons pitching in Taiwan’s top professional league and was with the Lamigo Monkeys last season.

More minor moves from around the league…

  • First baseman Brandon Allen has re-signed with the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted yesterday. The 28-year-old Allen, once considered a Top 100 prospect, hit .266/.368/.434 with the Mets at the Triple-A level last season.
  • The Brewers announced today that they’ve acquired outfielder Kyle Wren — the son of former Braves GM Frank Wren — from Atlanta in exchange for righty Zach Quintana. (W.G. Ramirez was the first to report Quintana’s trade earlier this week, on Twitter.) The 23-year-old Wren hit .290/.350/.360 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season, while Quintana struggled to a 5.70 ERA in 85 1/3 innings with Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate. He was a third-round pick by the Brewers as recently as 2012, however.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has several minor league deals to report (All Twitter links). The Athletics have inked catcher Carson Blair and lefty Rudy Owens; the Marlins have signed righty Ryan Reid, lefty Pat Urckfitz and center fielder Kenny Wilson; and the Braves have signed right-hander Victor Mateo and lefty Francisco Rondon.

NL East Notes: Desmond, Fish, Phils, Hamels, Braves, Medlen

The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.

Here’s the latest out of the division:

  • The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
  • Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
  • There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
  • Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
  • Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
  • The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.

Hill, Jennings Discuss Marlins’ Offseason Plans

The Marlins are continuing to look for upgrades wherever they make sense, taking a flexible approach to improving their roster as they look to put a winner on the field in 2015. Speaking from the GM Meetings in Phoenix, president of baseball operations Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings told MLBTR that the organization is very high on its assemblage of controllable talent and is ready to take the next step.

Of course, as has been reported recently, the primary focus now is on locking up superstar Giancarlo Stanton while also exploring early extensions with several other younger players. Hill characterized those efforts as exploratory, but backed by intention. “When you lock up your core, good things happen,” Jennings explained.

Though Hill acknowledged that the team had not done that at times in the past, he made clear the team is serious about committing future cash to its homegrown talent. Miami is aided in that effort, of course, by a virtually unblemished future balance sheet.

In terms of outside additions, Hill and Jennings emphasized the organization’s ability to act opportunistically.

Miami has long been said to be in the market for a veteran pitcher to insert into a rotation that is full of live, young arms. The optimal addition would, of course, be young and cost-controlled, in the mold of Jarred Cosart, who was added in a trade-deadline deal last year. Hill touted Cosart as a durable, solid arm who has yet to reach his ceiling.

Ultimately, Hill says the team is most interested in adding a “little more established” starter to anchor the staff, rather than making a high risk-high reward play. “We already have the upside,” he said.

In terms of bats, the Fish would be interested in an upgrade if the incremental improvement it could expect would warrant the price tag, as Hill put it. That holds true at first base as well as second.

Regarding the keystone, Hill and Jennings expressed comfort in the team’s internal options, naming Derek Dietrich, Donovan Solano, and Enrique Hernandez as possibilities to battle in camp. Though the power-hitting Dietrich has had his struggles, Jennings emphasized that “nobody is giving up on him.”

In that sense, the flexibility afforded by the team’s slate of young keystone options has it well positioned. Hill and Jennings indicated that the Marlins will consider several high-profile international middle infielders on a case-by-case basis. The team will not be impacted by the uncertain timing of the market entry of players such as Jose Fernandez and Hector Olivera, per the front office duo, in part due to their familiarity with that pair of Cuban stars and in part because a plausible internal solution is already in place.


Pablo Sandoval Rumors: Wednesday

Here’s the latest on Pablo Sandoval, with the newest items at the top of the post…

  • The Marlins and Yankees have yet to express any interest in Sandoval, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Both teams were cited as possible suitors for the Panda’s services before the offseason began.
  • Sandoval could be something of an underrated value, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier compares the slugger to past comparables in similar free agent situations.
  • Sandoval’s market seems to be down to the Giants and Red Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links).  Boston is “weighing other options” and in need of a “big play” to dislodge San Francisco as the favorite to sign the Panda.  Rosenthal cautions that things could change rapidly, of course, if another team sees an opportunity to get into the bidding.  The White Sox and Blue Jays have also been linked to Sandoval this offseason but their “interest seems limited.”

Blue Jays Notes: Melky, Hamels, Gattis, Salty

Signing the likes of Pablo Sandoval or Russell Martin would represent a major shift from how the Blue Jays have approached the free agent market in recent years, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi writes.  Under Alex Anthopoulos, the Jays have signed only three free agents to multiyear contracts, none longer than three years (for Maicer Izturis) and none for more than $16MM (for Melky Cabrera).  The Jays’ stated internal policy of not offering contracts longer than five years could play a role, though they’d almost certainly have to top that mark to sign Sandoval, who reportedly wants a six-year deal.

More from north of the border…

  • With Cabrera’s status still up in the air, Anthopoulos is doing his due diligence on possible replacements within Toronto’s lineup, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports.  “We’ve thought about alternatives, you have to think about alternatives all the time for any position. I can’t speak for Melky specifically other than we’d like to have him back,” Anthopoulos said.  “We may have a good sense right now of what the likelihood is of signing him or not signing him, but I’m sensitive to not talking about someone else’s free agency, and not divulging negotiations or things like that….That’s not to say we don’t want it to happen with Melky, but we’re also being real with this. There’s a good chance he doesn’t come back, we just don’t know.”
  • Also from Davidi, the Blue Jays are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list.  The Red Sox are also known to be on Hamels’ block list, while the Cubs are not.
  • The BravesEvan Gattis doesn’t appear to be a Jays trade target, Davidi reports, and he also reiterates that the Jays aren’t interested in Yasmany Tomas.
  • If the Jays can’t land Martin, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun speculates that the club could pursue Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, “who is available” following a .220/.320/.362 performance over 435 PA in 2014.  Saltalamacchia just signed a three-year, $21MM free agent deal with Miami last winter, though obviously it wouldn’t be the first time the Marlins have looked to deal a recent high-profile signing.  I’m not sure I see Saltalamacchia as a fit for the Jays, as he costs a lot more than incumbent catcher Dioner Navarro but arguably isn’t an upgrade.
  • The Jays are talking to Brook Jacoby about becoming the club’s new hitting coach, Elliott reports.  Jacoby is an assistant hitting coordinator for the Rangers and previously spent seven years as the Reds’ hitting coach.