The groups bidding on the Marlins have concerns over whether baseball will ever make it big in Miami, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who adds that it’s possible the team needs a major Latin American star to market itself to a largely Hispanic population. With that in mind, it would make sense for the Marlins to pursue Orioles third baseman and Florida native Manny Machado if he were to hit free agency after the 2018 season, opines Cafardo. The club’s biggest star at the moment is right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, whose mammoth contract has been a burden in Jeffrey Loria’s attempt to sell the Marlins, according to Cafardo. Stanton is in Year 3 of a 13-year, $325MM deal and also has a full no-trade clause that the Los Angeles native would likely only waive to go to the West Coast, per Cafardo. There’s no indication that any West Coast teams are interested in acquiring the slugger, however.
Plenty more from Cafardo:
- Royals left-hander Jason Vargas, in the midst of a career year at the age of 34, has seen his value skyrocket and is drawing “considerable interest” as a result, relays Cafardo. Vargas has been quite stingy through 60 1/3 innings, having logged a 2.39 ERA and a strong 3.20 FIP. He has also registered respectable strikeout and walk rates per nine innings (7.61 and 2.24, respectively), though he’s not exactly a high-velocity hurler and his 33.9 percent ground-ball rate sits well below the 44.4 percent league-average mark for starters. Vargas is on an $8MM salary this season as he concludes the four-year, $32MM contract he signed with Kansas City prior to the 2014 campaign.
- Although the first-place Twins have been one of the majors’ biggest surprises this year, teams expect them to make righty Ervin Santana available before the trade deadline, says Cafardo. Long a decent starter, Santana has turned in a front-line-caliber ERA this year (1.80) through 70 innings, but his strikeout and walk rates (6.43 and 3.47, respectively, per nine), unsustainable batting average on balls in play (.136) and sky-high strand rate (91.5 percent) suggest regression is around the corner. To Santana’s credit, his success has hardly been all luck – hitters have had major difficulty squaring him up, evidenced by a relatively paltry average exit velocity against (84.1 mph). Any team acquiring Santana would land a multiyear rotation piece, as he’s signed through next season at $13.5MM and carries a $14MM club option for 2019.
- The expectation is that the Padres will deal second baseman/third baseman Yangervis Solarte by the deadline, per Cafardo. Solarte’s name came up in trade rumors last winter on the heels of a career season (.286/.341/.467, 2.8 fWAR in 443 plate appearances), but he hasn’t helped his stock this year. So far in 2017, Solarte has slashed a meek .240/.330/.345 in 197 PAs. While it’s encouraging that his walk and strikeout rates match (10.2 percent), the 29-year-old has shown considerably less power than he did last season, with his ISO having dropped from .180 to .105. He’s quite affordable, though, with a $2.5MM salary this year and $4MM coming his way in 2018. Solarte also has a $5.5MM club option or a $750K buyout for 2019.
- The Marlins “are actively looking for a taker” for righty Tom Koehler, writes Cafardo. Koehler, whom the Marlins were going to send to the minors before he went on the disabled list May 19 with shoulder bursitis, has drawn interest from both the Dodgers and Red Sox. Los Angeles would use Koehler as a reliever if it were to acquire him, suggests Cafardo, which would be a change of pace for someone who registered 30-plus starts in each of the previous three seasons. Koehler was a fairly stable option over those 97 outings, combining for a 4.07 ERA, 7.08 K/9, 3.74 BB/9 and a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate, but has struggled mightily this season. Across eight starts and 38 1/3 innings, Koehler has pitched to a 7.08 ERA, with 7.26 K/9, 4.46 BB/9 and a 37.1 percent grounder rate. Koehler, 31 in June, is making $5.75MM and will be arbitration eligible for the last time over the winter.
- Teams in need of relief help are eyeing Braves closer Jim Johnson, according to Cafardo, who notes that some clubs are considering him as a setup man. The 33-year-old has plenty of experience in both roles and is amid his second straight productive season, having logged a 3.48 ERA, 9.58 K/9, 1.74 BB/9 and a 57.4 percent grounder mark in 20 2/3 innings. He’s making $4.5MM this year and is due another $4.5MM next season.