Here’s the latest from around the NL East…
- If the Marlins make a “big splash free agent push,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro believes it could be for a top closer like Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen rather than a starting pitcher. While the Fish are in major need of rotation help, the lack of appealing free agent starters this year could lead the team to spend what dollars they may have on a reliable stopper. Miami could sign a free agent starter at the right price, and Frisaro believes the club could both make a signing as well as acquire another arm by trading a position player.
- Trades also could be necessary for the Marlins due to payroll concerns, Frisaro writes elsewhere in his mailbag piece. He thinks Miami’s payroll will rise to around the $90MM range next year, though the Marlins already have roughly $76.3MM earmarked for just 12 players due to salary commitments and arbitration projections.
- Dexter Fowler could be a fit for the Mets if Yoenis Cespedes leaves in free agency, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The Mets could add Fowler and re-sign Neil Walker for the money it would take to land Cespedes, and having those two switch-hitters would give the Mets greater depth and versatility. Fowler also brings defensive value as a center fielder, which would help New York since neither Curtis Granderson or Michael Conforto are good fits for the position. Signing Fowler would be an alternative to the Mets’ plan to wait out the Cespedes market, which Sherman believes is risky since the team could be left wanting for a big bat if other free sluggers have signed elsewhere once Cespedes makes his decision.
- In another MLB.com mailbag piece, Todd Zolecki “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Phillies part ways with Darin Ruf. Tommy Joseph has supplanted Ruf on the first base depth chart, and Zolecki writes that the Phils now see Ruf as “anything more than insurance” for Joseph or in left field. Ruf spent much of 2016 posting big numbers in Triple-A but hit just .205/.236/.337 in 89 PA for Philadelphia. Ruf’s next opportunity might not come in the big leagues, as Zolecki reports that Ruf has received interest from Japanese teams.