The Marlins are taking a cautious approach to their interest in James Shields, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. While the Fish undoubtedly have interest, the team simply won’t go to the $100MM range over five years. Frisaro speculates that something in the five-year, $90MM range could be their limit, and even that would be tricky. The Marlins could afford to pay Shields as much as $20MM on a front-loaded deal, but they have $33MM committed to four players in 2016 with a whopping 14 players eligible for arbitration next winter (of course, some could be non-tendered or traded). The target payroll for 2016 is $80MM, making it difficult to commit a huge salary to Shields. The Marlins, Frisaro writes, want to ensure that nothing similar to their 2012 fire sale happens again; that year, they loaded their payroll up over $100MM with the assumption that a new ball park would send revenues to record levels, but the earnings didn’t reach Miami’s projections. That, coupled with a losing season on the field, led to the dramatic restructuring of the roster.
This is purely speculative on my behalf, but I’d think the idea of trading Steve Cishek, who projects to earn $6.9MM in 2015 (to say nothing of what’s sure to be a sizable 2016 salary), would make things easier on the Fish going forward. Allocating that type of cash to one reliever restricts a club with a limited payroll in a substantial way. Then again, the Marlins have been reluctant to listen to offers for Cishek in the past, and one could argue that paying one starter upwards of $20MM is equally limiting. Previous reports have indicated that Miami could have a new TV deal by 2017, so they could soon have much greater means for an increased payroll.
Moving away from Shields, here are a few more notes from the NL East…
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted yesterday that he’s heard from clubs in touch with the Phillies that Philadelphia is playing up what a great person Ryan Howard is when pitching him in potential trades. While Stark notes that it’s an accurate point, he adds that (unsurprisingly), it’s done little to help the Phillies’ cause. There still appear to be no takers at this point, says Stark.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com looks at the inactivity of the Mets’ in addressing their shortstop position and concludes that there really hasn’t been an ideal fit for the club this offseason. Ian Desmond, the most recent name in the mix, would’ve cost them Noah Syndergaard and another prospect and is hitting the open market next season. The top free agent shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, signed as a left fielder, and other free agents like Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie have significant defensive question marks. Stephen Drew’s contract was negligible, but as Castrovince notes, a year of Drew is not a clearly better option than getting a definitive answer as to whether or not Wilmer Flores can handle the position.
- Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com ponders if the combination of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar would be an upgrade over the Nationals’ expected midddle-infield tandem of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, had the rumored three-team trade with the Mets and Rays gone through. It’s debatable, he writes, and the second year on Escobar’s contract had significant value for Washington, as Trea Turner likely won’t be ready by 2016, but the Nats could still come out ahead by retaining Desmond for 2015 and adding a second base upgrade. Zuckerman points out that the very fact that the trade was discussed indicates that GM Mike Rizzo is still actively pursuing upgrades and could find an alternative just yet.