Miami Marlins Rumors

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

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.

NL East Notes: Stanton, Heyward, Nats, Mets, Cuddyer, Phillies

For those who need further convincing that the Marlins are serious about extending Giancarlo Stanton, president of baseball operations Michael Hill told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (Twitter link), that teams aren’t even bothering to call and ask about Stanton’s availability anymore. Joel Sherman of the New York Post expands on that quote from Hill, noting that there are some indications that the team is willing to break its policy of not giving out no-trade clauses in order to lock up Stanton. Hill wouldn’t directly state that the team is willing to give Stanton a no-trade clause, but that could certainly be inferred from his comments: “It’s been an organizational policy, but you are talking about a star talent. You look at the marketplace and what other stars have gotten. It will be a topic of discussion.”

More from the NL East…

  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn’t envision an extension for Jason Heyward this offseason (Twitter links). That’s not due to a lack of interest on Atlanta’s behalf, but rather due to Heyward’s proximity to free agency. With Heyward set to hit the open market next winter, Hart said that his assumption is it’s “probably the wrong time,” though he said the team could still try to sign Heyward as a free agent.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged to James Wagner of the Washington Post that he’s been in contact with Asdrubal Cabrera‘s agent as the team looks at all options on the second base market (Twitter link).
  •  Wagner also tweets that the Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann aren’t engaged in any form of extension talks at the moment. The ace righty is slated to hit the open market next winter after pocketing a $16.5MM salary in 2015.
  • Marc Carig of Newsday provides a breakdown of where the Mets are in their pursuit of a shortstop. The Mets aren’t big on the idea of multi-year deals for either Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera, and looking to the trade market has been difficult thus far. Arizona’s asking price on Didi Gregorius is high — GM Dave Stewart said the return would need to be “earth-shattering” in terms of controllable pitching — and the Cubs haven’t given indication they’ll part with Starlin Castro. The Mets are concerned about Alexei Ramirez‘s declining range, and while they briefly floated the idea of pursuing Jimmy Rollins, that notion went nowhere when they learned that Rollins wouldn’t waive his no-trade rights to go there. A trade for Troy Tulowitzki is considered an extreme long shot, he adds.
  • Matthew Cerrone of SNY.tv’s Metsblog has some highlights (and the audio) from the Mets‘ conference call announcing Michael Cuddyer‘s signing today. Within, he notes that GM Sandy Alderson admitted to being caught off guard by the Rockies’ qualifying offer, but they ultimately decided that they’d prefer to sacrifice a draft pick rather than sacrifice a current minor league prospect in a trade for an outfielder. That makes some sense, considering they figure to do so in order to acquire a shortstop at some point.
  • The Phillies are willing to trade anyone, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but they may have to wait until the free agent market pans out a bit further before seeing some big deals come to fruition. If they’re able to find a taker for Ryan Howard, it may not come until big bats like Victor Martinez, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera are off the market. The same could be said regarding Cole Hamels in relation to Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester; GM Ruben Amaro Jr. might find teams more willing to part with a significant prospect package when there are no longer ace-caliber alternatives in free agency.

Marlins Open Extension Talks With Fernandez, Yelich, Hechavarria

The Marlins have opened long-term extension talks with injured ace Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Adeiny Hechavarria, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As Rosenthal notes, nothing is close with any of the three. Fernandez, a client of Scott Boras, is a particularly long shot to be extended. Boras typically encourages his clients to test the open market, and while his players have on rare occasion signed long-term deals before reaching that point (e.g. Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez), Fernandez isn’t in a great spot to talk contract as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.

It’s not hard to see why Miami would have interest in extending Fernandez, however, as he was among the game’s most dominant young arms before undergoing surgery and figures to get back to that point in the near future. The former first-rounder skipped Double-A and Triple-A entirely and debuted in the Majors as a 20-year-old. While that jump would be difficult for most, Fernandez had no trouble acclimating to the Majors and notched a ludicrous 2.25 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 through his first 224 1/3 innings. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 and finished third in the NL Cy Young balloting that season.

Fernandez is controlled through 2018, although now that he’s missed a season with injury, the Marlins’ decision to have him break camp in 2013 looks even more questionable; Miami could’ve secured another year of team control by leaving him in the minors for just three weeks or so. Of course, if an extension is worked out, that will be a relatively moot point (though still puzzling, in principle).

Yelich, 23 in a month, quietly enjoyed a breakout season. Also a former first-round pick, he batted .284/.362/.402 with nine homers, 21 steals and excellent defense in left field. Baseball-Reference valued him at 3.6 WAR, while Fangraphs pegged him for 4.3 WAR. Yelich can be controlled through 2019 and won’t be arbitration eligible for two more years, so there’s no immediate urgency for the Marlins to extend him. He’s repped by Paragon Sports.

Hechavarria, 26 next April, is a client of Praver-Shapiro Sports and is a more curious case. While most acknowledge that he has the tools to be an excellent shortstop, most defensive metrics peg him as below-average at shortstop despite his affinity for highlight-reel plays. He’s under control through 2018 and isn’t arbitration eligible until next winter. Hechavarria posted an improved .276/.308/.356 batting line in 2014, though his offense still hasn’t caught up to its minor league levels, where he slashed .327/.376/.446 with eight homers in 606 Triple-A plate appearances.

In addition to this group, the Marlins are, of course, trying to extend franchise cornerstone Giancarlo Stanton. Earlier today, reports indicated that talks are ongoing and the Marlins are aware of and comfortable with the fact that Stanton may cost $28-30MM annually.


Sherman On Marlins, Kang, Joyce, DeJesus, Braves

The latest out of the GM Meetings from the New York Post’s Joel Sherman

  • Regarding negotiations with Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins GM Dan Jennings tells Sherman, “There’s only one hope — we want to sign him.” Negotiations between the two sides are ongoing, Sherman writes, and the Marlins are aware with and comfortable with the fact that Stanton could require a $28-30MM annual value on a long-term deal. The relationship between the two sides seems to be in a good place, he adds.
  • In addition to a Stanton extension, Jennings told Sherman that the team would like to add a veteran starter either via free agency or trade to help stabilize the rotation while Jose Fernandez rehabs. They’d also like to add a middle-of-the-order bat to either hit behind Stanton or bat in front of him. This is my own speculation, but I listed Miami as a potential landing spot for Adam LaRoche in my free agent profile and picked him to land there in MLBTR’s Free Agent Prediction Contest as well.
  • Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang is being represented by agent Alan Nero of Octagon, who joked to Sherman and other reporters that if Kang were coming from Cuba, he’d earn $100MM+ after hitting .354 with 39 homers. However, KBO is known to be a fairly low level of competition and an offense-friendly environment, and as Sherman notes, many scouts have expressed skepticism that his power will translate to Major League Baseball. Still, Kang is just 27, and Nero says his client feels comfortable playing shortstop, third base, second base and even center field.
  • The Rays are said to be working toward a trade of Jeremy Hellickson to an NL team, but he’s not the only candidate to be moved by Tampa. Sherman reports that they’d like to move Matt Joyce or David DeJesus as well.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive for the Braves to be aggressively shopping Evan Gattis when their team needs offense, but Sherman hears the team wants to diversify its offense after becoming too reliant on an all-or-nothing approach from right-handed hitters. The Braves also feel they have a big need in the rotation, as they’re looking to replace 400 innings from Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang.

NL Notes: Reds, Stanton, Cubs, Mets

The Reds could improve considerably in 2015 simply by getting the most out of their current roster, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. With four starting pitchers a year from free agency, GM Walt Jocketty has the difficult decision to “hold ‘em or fold ‘em.” He could take one more shot at the postseason by luring a Michael Morse-type player, or he could begin the rebuilding process now. The market for his soon-to-be free agents could help him make the decision.

  • Marlins GM Dan Jennings says contract extension talks with Giancarlo Stanton are ongoing, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). There is no time table on the talks. In Justice’s article, he mentions the Cardinals as a possible fit for Stanton is extension talks with Miami fizzle.
  • We’ve heard everything when it comes to the Cubs and their place in the free agent market. GM Jed Hoyer showed part of his hand recently, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. The club would like to add some veteran leadership with Hoyer saying: “maybe a player in the starting lineup, maybe a bench player, maybe someone in the bullpen, maybe someone in the rotation.” That’s a lot of maybe’s, but the idea is that a veteran presence in each role can help the youngsters improve and develop character. Rogers has more comments from Hoyer that are well worth a read.
  • The Mets need to answer three questions at the GM Meetings, opines Mike Puma of the New York Post. Assuming the club isn’t satisfied with Wilmer Flores, the shortstop market must be gauged. A trade with either Chicago team might be the way to go. Outfield is another area of concern, with only Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson scheduled for regular roles. Lastly, GM Sandy Alderson should measure interest in Daniel Murphy.

NL East Notes: Stanton, Mets, Nationals, Tomas, Hamels

As expected, the Marlins have begun extension talks with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. President of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Spencer that the team has “reached out” to Stanton’s representatives and that “negotiations are ongoing.”

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • At present, the Mets are more inclined to fill their needs in the corner outfield via trade than through a free agent signing, reports Marc Carig of Newsday. New York is still hesitant to give up any of its best young talent in a swap. But veterans like Michael Morse, Alex Rios, and Torii Hunter all seem more like fallback options that the team would pursue if value can be had and nothing better has materialized. The Mets are said to prefer to add a right-handed bat.
  • One other hypothetical possibility, Nick Markakis, is not presently engaged with the team in any way, according to Matt Ehalt of The Record (Twitter link).
  • As they weigh their options at second, the Nationals are not unmindful of the Cuban market that has begun to materialize in recent weeks, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The primary possible targets, per Wagner, are 26-year-old Jose Fernandez and high-upside youngster Yoan Moncada. The 20-year-old Moncada will draw immense interest, with Ben Badler of Baseball America saying he is talented enough that he would be the odds-on favorite to go first overall in this year’s amateur draft (were he eligible).
  • The Phillies are still the favorite to land Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, with A.J. Burnett‘s decision to decline his option possibly burnishing Philly’s chances. That does not mean they are without competition, of course. Other clubs that have seen (or will soon see) Tomas since his showcase include the Rangers, D’backs, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, and Mariners.
  • Also per Heyman, the Phillies could clear yet more payroll space and add young talent through a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, with the Cubs still showing interest in the lefty.