Miami Marlins Rumors

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

Quick Hits: A-Rod, Gutierrez, Butera, Manfred

With a solo shot off of Chris Tillman during tonight’s 4-3 Yankees win over the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez officially passed Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.  Rodriguez’s 661 career homers put him behind only Babe Ruth (714), Henry Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762) in the record books.  While A-Rod’s feat is certainly noteworthy in its own right, his homers have drawn even more attention due to the controversy around the so-called “milestone” bonuses in his contract that the Yankees are refusing to pay.  Here’s some more news from around the league…

  • Cuban right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez is now eligible to sign with teams during the 2015-16 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports.  Gutierrez has received residency in Mexico and registered with MLB, though since he still needs to be officially declared a free agent by the league, he may not be able to sign immediately when the signing period opens on July 2.  Gutierrez will be subject to the international bonus pool limits, so teams that are facing $300K signing caps in the upcoming signing period (the Angels, Diamondbacks, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees) won’t be able to afford the promising youngster.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was hoping to keep Drew Butera after the catcher was designated for assignment, but as Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez), “it became fairly clear that he was going to get claimed on waivers, so putting together a trade made the most sense.”  Butera was dealt to the Royals for infielder Ryan Jackson earlier today.
  • On the Royals side of that trade, GM Dayton Moore told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan) that Butera won’t supplant Erik Kratz as the primary backup catcher.  “We’re just trying to get through this period of time,” Moore said, in reference to Kratz’s stint on the DL with an injured foot.  Since Butera is out of options, I’d guess he could be on the move again once Kratz is healthy.
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to reporters before a recent Rangers/Astros game about a number of baseball topics, including the possibility of a shorter schedule.  The Associated Press has a partial recap of Manfred’s comments.
  • One topic that isn’t a major priority for the league office is adjusting the designated-for-assignment period.  As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets, Manfred said “that rule actually has functioned fairly effectively over a period of time.”  Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal and MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth both recently explored how some players, like Alex Hassan, can have their careers essentially put on hold due to constantly being in “DFA limbo.”
  • In his latest Insider-only post, ESPN’s Buster Olney cites the AthleticsScott Kazmir and the RedsMike Leake as potential trade candidates if their teams continue to struggle.  Both hurlers are scheduled for free agency this winter.  Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be interested in either pitcher to bolster their rotation, while Kazmir could also be a fit with the Red Sox or Astros.
  • While the Marlins bullpen hasn’t pitched very well this year, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro doesn’t think the club needs to turn to Edward Mujica, who was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier today.  Mujica pitched well for the Marlins in 2011-12 but as Frisaro notes, he’s struggled this year and Miami doesn’t really have any roster space for him.

D’Backs, Mariners, Royals Considering Saltalamacchia; Orioles Unlikely

6:11pm: The Orioles are not expected to land the backstop, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter.

6:08pm: A deal could come together by tomorrow, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mariners, Orioles, and Royals are the teams that have joined the D’Backs in pursuit, per Cafardo.

9:11am: The D’Backs are joined by three other teams in “looking at” the backstop, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The Red Sox and Rays are not among them, he adds.

8:28am: Arizona has indeed already reached out to Saltalamacchia, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Multiple clubs are involved early in the process, per the report.

8:19am: The Diamondbacks are considering a run at newly-minted free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Arizona was said to be one of the teams discussing the veteran with the Marlins prior to his release.

“He’s a player that we’re going to talk a little bit more in-depth about,” said GM Dave Stewart. “I have to see what our scouts are saying and talk to our internal guys, and if it makes sense then we’ll make the next step.”

Now that Saltalamacchia’s large salary is destined to remain entirely on the Marlins’ tab, clubs can pursue him as a risk-free addition. It remains to be seen what kind of market will develop now that Salty is back on the open market, but competition to acquire his services will presumably focus on non-compensatory matters, such as playing time, fit, and location.

Arizona’s catching situation has been as unproductive as expected, though at least four other teams have compiled more negative fWAR at the position. Starter Tuffy Gosewisch has slashed just .176/.222/.176 through 72 plate appearances. And while the versatile Jordan Pacheco has provided some value offensively, his .280/.379/.400 slash is fueled by a .400 BABIP and seems highly likely to come back to earth.

Stewart acknowledged that situation, saying while he liked the job Gosewisch has done behind the plate, “we still expect a little more offense from him.” While the rookie GM did not give any indication that Gosewisch’s time was short, he did make clear that change was not out of the question: “He may make those adjustments,” said Stewart, “but with that being said, we have to at least go through the process internally and see if Saltalamacchia is an option to bring here.”

All said, the D’Backs look like precisely the kind of club that ought to take a shot on a return to form from Saltalamacchia, who just turned thirty a few days ago. He may never get back to the low-OBP but high-power option he was before going to Miami, but his ceiling is known and is obviously higher than that of most freely available talent. At the very least, the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia has always high right-handed pitching, making him a useful option to pair with a right-handed bat.


Marlins Release Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Miami has announced the release of struggling catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Marlins were not able to find a trade partner for the recently-designated backstop, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Twitter. He will hit the open market after clearing release waivers.

The news rates as at least a mild surprise. Miami had hoped to find a team to pick up at least some of the approximately $6MM left on his 2015 salary, to say nothing of the $8MM owed next year. Several clubs were reported to be in talks with the Fish, but apparently none were willing to offer enough value to warrant a deal.

Salty is a virtual certainty to clear release waivers and reach free agency, given that any claiming team would need to take on his contract. That will afford the clubs with prior interest an opportunity to add him at a pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary.

It has been a swift fall from grace for Saltalamacchia, who like several recent free agents before him simply never panned out in Miami. He has slashed a meager .209/.310/.351 over his 468 plate appearances since joining the club, a far cry from his .243/.307/.455 output over four seasons with the Red Sox.

Despite his troubles on offense and generally poorly-regarded work behind the plate, Saltalamacchia has a rare track record of useful production from the left side of the plate. The switch-hitter managed a .707 OPS last year against right-handers, making him a potentially appealing platoon mate for multiple teams around the league.

While several young backstops (J.T. Realmuto, Austin Hedges, Blake Swihart) have been promoted in recent weeks, there is still a dearth of offensively-useful catchers in the game. Among those who have seen at least twenty turns at bat this year, just 19 have registered above-average batting production. Meanwhile, injuries to players such as Matt Wieters, Travis d’Arnaud, Ryan Hanigan, and Christian Vazquez have sapped the overall depth around the game.



Cafardo On Hamels, Rays, Red Sox

The Phillies are “waiting with open arms” to find the right trade for at least one of their big-name veteran players, a major league official tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  That list of big names, of course, includes ace Cole Hamels, though Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley could also be moved, Cafardo writes.  Amaro recently told reporters that he’s willing to eat part of Hamels’ contract in a trade if necessary, and that could help bring about a deal for the Phillies.  More from today’s column..

  • Major league sources tell Cafardo that the tampering investigation brought by Rays owner Stuart Sternberg against the Cubs for their hiring of Joe Maddon was reopened when Sternberg objected to the original verdict.  In the end, however, it was found that there was no tampering in the negotiations.
  • Marlins GM Dan Jennings thought he had trade possibilities for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was designated for assignment last week. He’s currently in the 10-day limbo period in which he could be traded, claimed, or put on waivers.
  • Scouts are still waiting for Red Sox outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig to bust out and it appears Boston is going to play him more to boost his trade value.  Cafardo notes that Craig has historically hit well in the month of May.
  • The Red Sox are trying to create roster versatility by using players at different positions. Shortstop Deven Marrero is the team’s latest experiment after seeing time at second base. One NL scout isn’t so wild about the concept. “He’s a terrific athlete so he’ll do well at the other positions, but this is the type of guy where you know he’s a terrific shortstop so why mess around with that?” said the scout. “He’s got high confidence as a shortstop and now you’re reducing that confidence level by making him play positions he’s not used to.

Minor Moves: Blackley, Flores, Capps, Ciriaco

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

  • A pair of veterans are headed to the Marlins, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). Lefty Travis Blackley and catcher Jesus Flores will join the Miami organization after being cut loose by other clubs earlier in the spring. Blackley, 32, has not seen big league action since 2013 and struggled in a brief stint in Japan last year. The 30-year-old Flores, meanwhile, has never returned to the majors since a five-year run with the Nationals. At Triple-A last year with the Royals, he slashed .230/.299/.373 over 271 plate appearances.
  • The Braves have released veteran reliever Matt Capps, according to the International League transactions page. Capps, a former closer for the Pirates, Nationals and Twins, last appeared in the big leagues in 2012. He pitched just 12 minor-league innings in the last two seasons in the Indians system while dealing with shoulder issues, and he had not yet appeared in a game in 2015.
  • The Braves have announced that they’ve purchased the contract of utilityman Pedro Ciriaco. To make space on their active roster, they’ve optioned lefty Ian Thomas to Triple-A Gwinnett. With Chris Johnson out with a hand injury, the Braves plan to go with Alberto Callaspo and Phil Gosselin at third base, and Ciriaco could provide extra help at third and elsewhere in the infield. The 29-year-old has a career .270/.299/.372 line in 498 plate appearances over five seasons with the Pirates, Red Sox, Padres and Royals. The Braves signed him to a minor-league deal in October.

Injury Notes: Medlen, Mesoraco, Bailey, Fernandez, Rendon, Janssen, Verlander, Nathan

Injuries remain perhaps the largest driver of needs in the early part of the season — a topic that MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes and I explored in today’s podcast with respect to starting pitching. Let’s have a look at some key injury situations around the game:

  • Rehabbing Royals starter Kris Medlen is headed to extended Spring Training to begin throwing against live batters, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. That leaves him on track for a rehab assignment in May. Kansas City has $8.5MM riding on the righty’s ability to return to form after his second Tommy John surgery.
  • The Reds are missing two key cogs in backstop Devin Mesoraco and righty Homer Bailey. As Michael Hunt reports for MLB.com, manager Bryan Price says that Mesoraco — still not on the DL despite a 17-game absence from his usual catching duties — is still not ready “to try it out just yet,” adding that Mesoraco is “coming along slowly.” There are longer-term concerns with regard to Bailey, of course, and surgery is said to be on the table. “We’re probably going to know in the next one-to-two days what our plans are with Homer,” Price said. “You spend a lot of time when you make a diagnosis, fact-finding and making sure everything you see is as it appears. That’s been the time consumer, making sure it is what we think it is and finding the best way to treat it.”
  • Marlins starter Jose Fernandez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, of course, and recently faced hitters in a live BP session for the first time. You can check out the video of his outing, courtesy of FOX Sports Florida.
  • After a pause in his rehab, Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon is preparing for another Double-A appearance in the coming days, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports. The issue has not been with his knee, which caused him to hit the DL to start the year, but with tightness in his side. That’s good news for the club, obviously, as is the fact that reliever Casey Janssen appeared in an extended spring game. He is set to begin his own run up through the minors in short order, per Ladson.
  • Injured Tigers starter Justin Verlander is set for a third MRI on his right triceps area early next week, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, reliever Joe Nathan underwent his Tommy John procedure yesterday, Fenech tweets, with Nathan saying that it went well. It figures to be a long road back for the 40-year-old, but indications are that he’ll try to return to the big leagues.

D-Backs, Rays, Royals Among Clubs Discussing Saltalamacchia

10:50pm: Heyman adds, via Twitter, that the Orioles are not in the mix for Saltalamacchia.

10:05pm: The Diamondbacks, Rays and Royals are all discussing Saltalamacchia, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s unclear if Kansas City’s interest has picked up at all between McCullough’s report and this latest update, though the Rays and certainly the D-Backs would seem to have a bigger need behind the dish. Like MacPherson yesterday, Heyman hears that the Red Sox aren’t in the mix.

4:14pm: The Royals have some interest in Saltalamacchia, but their interest is said to be very preliminary, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). As McCullough notes, GM Dayton Moore was the Braves’ director of player development when Atlanta drafted Saltalamacchia.

APRIL 28, 3:12pm: The Angels are not currently involved in trade talks while the Mariners are weighing internally whether to pursue him, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). 

APRIL 27: The Marlins have already had contact with five teams regarding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. GM Dan Jennings says that he expects to find a deal for the just-designated backstop.

Among the potential landing spots are the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Diamondbacks, one source tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). According to other reports, however, Boston is “unlikely” to be interested in adding the 29-year-old, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets, even if it were able to add him for just the league minimum.

Saltalamacchia thrived in Boston, slashing a combined .243/.307/.455 during his four seasons there. Since earning a large free agent payday to join the Marlins last year, Saltalamacchia owns a fairly disapointing .209/.310/.351 line at the plate. That output, while still not bad for a catcher, was not enough to outweigh his lightly-regarded defensive work.

Nevertheless, Salty remains an interesting option for teams looking for a backup or injury replacement (as the above list would indicate). The switch hitter has been much more productive historically against right-handed pitching (.775 career OPS) and makes for a natural platoon mate for any right-handed swinging backstop.


Marlins Designate Jarrod Saltalamacchia For Assignment

In a rather surprising move, the Marlins announced that they have designated catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for assignment.

Saltalamacchia, 29, is less than a month into the second year of a three-year, $21MM pact with the Marlins. He’s owed $6.16MM through season’s end and still has an $8MM salary remaining in 2016, the final year of his contract. With $14.16MM left on his deal, Saltalamacchia is all but certain to clear waivers if that’s where he’s headed, but it remains possible that the Marlins could move him to another club if they absorb a significant portion of his remaining salary.

Though the remaining salary on his contract and the early juncture of the season make this move unexpected, Saltalamacchia’s bat hasn’t justified the investment which the Marlins made in the 2013-14 offseason. In a combined 468 plate appearances over the past two years, Saltalamacchia has batted just .209/.310/.351 with a dozen homers. Top catching prospect J.T. Realmuto was promoted earlier this month and will be relied upon as the everyday catcher going forward, it would seem.

It’s possible that the Marlins are far enough along in trade discussions that they were comfortable designating Saltalamacchia in order to clear a 40-man spot now. (The Orioles recently did this with Ryan Webb, for example.) It seems odd that they wouldn’t be able to find a taker for Saltalamacchia at $1-2MM per season to spare them some of the cost, but as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports notes, the team did try to trade Saltalamacchia all winter without any success (Twitter link).


Loria: No Serious Discussion Of Managerial Change

A 3-10 start for the Marlins led to speculation that manager Mike Redmond might be on the hot seat, and after initially declining to comment one way or another on that speculation, team owner Jeffrey Loria endorsed Redmond when speaking to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports after last night’s victory. “He’s the manager. Period,” said Loria after watching his team improve to 8-11. “All team go through bad moments. Ours came early. … He did a very nice job last year, and he works hard.”

Heyman goes on to write that Loria insisted that the team isn’t giving any serious consideration to replacing Redmond, who signed a three-year extension through the 2017 season on the final day of the 2014 campaign. He also denied that Mets Triple-A skipper Wally Backman is or was a consideration at one point, noting that he doesn’t know Backman.

The Marlins have gone 5-1 since the initial report that Redmond could be on the hot seat, and while that’s a small sample of games, it did include a decisive sweep of the division-favorite Nationals, in which Miami outscored Washington 17-4. The Fish also took two of three against the Phillies last week as well.

Reports last week also indicated that GM Dan Jennings and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are both big fans of Redmond, and neither wanted to make a change. It would seem, then, that some combination of the team’s improved play over divisional opponents, combined with a vote of confidence from his top baseball ops executives, has swayed Loria to come around on Redmond. Last week, when asked whether or not Redmond was on the hot seat, Loria declined to comment on his job security, stating, “I’m not interested in palace intrigue. We’ve got games to win — period.”


Minor Moves: Snyder, Dykstra, Redmond, Roberts

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Orioles will sign corner intfielder Brandon Snyder to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Snyder, 28, had agreed to a deal with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in March. He hit .206/.284/.444 in 141 plate appearances with the Red Sox’ Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate in 2014. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2013 and had previously had cups of coffee with the Orioles and Rangers. The Orioles made him the 13th overall pick in the draft ten years ago.
  • The Rays have outrighted Allan Dykstra, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Dykstra playing first base for much of April, but he became superfluous when James Loney returned from the disabled list. The 27-year-old Dykstra hit .280/.426/.504 for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season, drawing 84 walks in 439 plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
  • The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
  • The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page.  Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014.  He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.