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Miami relievers being closely watched

ATLANTA — About a dozen scouts are at Turner Field, and many of them are keeping a close watch on Marlins’ relievers.

Specifically, they’ve got their eyes on closer Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn.

The Marlins, for now, are committed to staying the course. They’re striving to string together some wins and get back to .500 by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

One thing is clear, if the Marlins did make Cishek and/or Dunn available, there would be strong interest in both.

Cishek, making $3.8 million in his first year of arbitration, would draw the biggest crowds, and bring in the largest payoff. The 28-year-old doesn’t qualify for free agency until 2018. Clearly, his price tag will rise in arbitration, but Miami also could target him as an extension candidate, seeking to lock him up for several more seasons perhaps an affordable rate.

If Cishek were to be moved, it likely would be to bring back a controllable starting pitcher or a big league ready second baseman.

Dunn, making $1.4 million in his first year of arbitration, will be a free agent in 2017.

This is an interesting time for the Marlins. They’re wanting to put themselves into the picture as buyers. They’ve made it clear, a controllable starter and a second baseman are on their wish list.

The club has a good, young core that they’re trying to add rather than subtract. The organization is striving to build stability with its nucleus, and retaining Cishek would be a positive signal to the clubhouse.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins weighing whether to buy or sell

ATLANTA –- The Marlins are striving to get back to .500 at a time trade rumors heat up.

The non-waiver Trade Deadline is July 31, and Miami is weighing whether to make an major moves.

Plenty of ground needs to be made up as they sit in fourth place in the National League East.

“For all of us who have been around as players, that’s this time of year,” Miami manager Mike Redmond said. “This time of year there is always a lot of speculation about guys — trades, and all that stuff.”

Closer Steve Cishek has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, although the Marlins have told teams the right-hander is not available. Lefty reliever Mike Dunn is another potential candidate who could be moved.

If Miami gets hot, the club may become buyers. They’ve been surveying the market for a controllable starting pitcher, and a speedy second baseman.

The direction could turn in a number of ways in the next week to 10 days.

If the Marlins have a successful seven-game road trip to Atlanta and Houston, chances are the club won’t part with established players. If not, and an offer is enticing, then in all likelihood, Miami will listen.

Redmond says all players can do is focus on their task at hand.

“It can become a distraction if you make it a distraction,” Redmond said. “Guys have just got to focuse on doing their jobs, and playing one game at a time. You can’t get too caught up on what you read and what you hear.”

Joe Frisaro

Marlins in market for controllable starter

NEW YORK –- Add the Marlins to the list of clubs looking for starting pitching before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But Miami isn’t just seeking any type of starter. The club is targeting controllable young arms, meaning those who are not on the verge of becoming free agents. The club has no interest in a rental.

“A rental, it may help you in the short term,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “We want something we can move forward with. I think that will definitely influence the direction we go.”

Along with a starting pitcher, the Marlins also are exploring second base options.

The Marlins felt they had a second base answer when they signed free agent Rafael Furcal in the offseason. But a left hamstring injury has limited Furcal to just nine games.

Furcal was expected to be a speed threat at the top of the order.

On the trade front, the Marlins are looking for a second baseman who can run and potentially lead off.

– Joe Frisaro

Sean Rodriguez could be potential fit in Miami

MIAMI — The Marlins’ short list of potential third base candidates includes Miami native Sean Rodriguez of the Rays.

According to a league source, the Marlins have had internal discussions about Rodriguez. It’s unclear if the 28-year-old Miami’s No. 1 trade target, but he could factor into a plan to at least share time at the hot corner.

The Marlins are closing in on a two-year deal with first baseman Garrett Jones, who has played in at least 144 games in each of the past four seasons with the Pirates.

Assuming Jones eventually signs, the Marlins will likely look to trade Logan Morrison.

Tampa Bay is one of the teams reportedly to have interest in Morrison.

If teams talk about Morrison, perhaps Rodriguez and a pitcher could get a deal done.

Rodriguez, who attended Braddock High School in Miami, made $1 million last season and he is in his second season of arbitration.

In a utility role, Rodriguez batted .246 with a .320 on-base percentage and five homers and 23 RBIs last season.

A right-handed batter, Rodriguez could split time at the hot corner with Ed Lucas or Donovan Solano. Rodriguez also would give some insurance at shortstop for Adeiny Hechavarria, and depth at second or even first base. He also plays the outfield.

Miami may be looking for a stop gap solution at third base until Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick last year, is ready, which could be in 2015.

Joe Frisaro

Strong interest, no deal yet for Saltalamacchia

MIAMI — The process continues in the Marlins’ pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Miami has strong interest, and has a multi-year offer is on the table. But as of late Tuesday afternoon, nothing was finalized. And nothing was imminent.

The Marlins and Twins are believed to be the two contenders after reports the Rangers were not interested.

The Red Sox have moved in another direction by signing A.J. Pierzynski.

Saltalamacchia, the 28-year-old catcher, is in the process of considering his options.

According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, the Marlins have a two-year offer with a club option for a third year on the table.

Financial terms and years have not been confirmed.

The Denver Post reported Saltalamacchia will be heading to the Marlins. At some point, that may occur, but nothing was imminent as of late Tuesday.

The Marlins are not expected to be major players in free agency, and signing a player to a multiyear deal right now is something the team is sorting out.

Clearly, the Marlins are hopeful of landing Saltalamacchia.

As of now, the team isn’t seriously looking at fallback options. That would change if they don’t sign Saltalamachia.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins checking in on Navarro, Hughes

MIAMI — The Marlins are in the market for low-risk, potentially high-reward players.

A couple of veterans are on their radar. The Miami Herald reports the Marlins have inquired about catcher Dioner Navarro and right-hander Phil Hughes.

The Marlins are in the market for catching depth, targetting an impact bat to split time with Jeff Mathis.

Navarro, 29, batted .300 with 13 homers in 89 games for the Cubs last season.

Hughes, 27, is coming off a 4-14 season with a 5.19 ERA with the Yankees.

The Marlins have a talented, young rotation led by ace Jose Fernandez. But they don’t have an experienced veteran in the group. Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Slowey filled a leadership role among the starters in the first half of ’13. But Nolasco was traded to the Dodgers in early July, and Slowey’s season was cut short due to an injury.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins not considering trading Eovaldi

MIAMI — The Marlins are willing to part with some of their surplus pitching in hopes of landing impact hitters, but they are not considering moving their No. 2 starter.

Nathan Eovaldi is not a trade option.

The Marlins see their top of the rotation being Jose Fernandez and Eovaldi, giving them two young, controllable power arms for years to come.

Acquired from the Dodgers for Hanley Ramirez in July of 2012, Eovaldi’s fastball reached as high as 100 mph this past season.

Power pitching is essential to being a serious contender, and Fernandez coupled with Eovaldi gives Miami a formidable top two starters in the National League East, which has its share of elite arms.

At the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, teams were told Eovaldi was not available.

Miami is looking for two or possibly three impact hitters.

By not listening on potential trades for Eovaldi, it raises questions if the Marlins will be able to secure a bat the caliber of Mark Trumbo.

To deal Trumbo, a 30 homer, 100 RBI threat, the Angels will be wanting in return at least a strong No. 2 starter. Eovaldi has the potential to be that.

Rather than moving Eovaldi, a more realistic trade piece appears to be Jacob Turner.

Heading into the GM Meetings, the Marlins made it clear that slugger Giancarlo Stanton was not available. Opposing teams quickly found out that was true, and very few serious inquires were made about Stanton. In the hotel lobby, names flow more freely.

As for first baseman Logan Morrison, the Marlins are open to listen.

If something makes sense, Morrison could be dealt.

The Marlins are weighing whether David Freese is a realistic fit at third base.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins not shopping Stanton

MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton is not on the trade market.

The news is not alarming since there have long been indications that the slugger is a core piece of the Marlins’ rebuilding puzzle.

But on Sunday, Marlins general manager Dan Jennings made it public that Stanton will be in right field for Miami in 2014.

Jennings was a guest of Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM radio on Sunday.

Asked about Stanton, Jennings said: “not available” for a trade this offseason.

“He will be in right field at Marlins Park on Opening Day,” Jennings said. “We are building around him.”

Stanton, who turns 24 this month, is arbitration-eligible for the first time.

The Marlins also are discussing internally whether to sign Stanton to a long-term contract.

Stanton won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.

Technically, the Marlins could go year to year with Stanton for three more seasons, if he doesn’t agree to a multi-year deal.

While it has been widely reported Stanton would not accept a multi-year deal with Miami, money has a way of making players change their mind.

The Marlins are expected to approach Stanton will a hefty contract proposal.

On radio on Sunday, Jennings also was asked about potential trades. The names Mark Trumbo of the Angels and Will Middlebrooks of the Red Sox each came up.

“We like both guys,” Jennings said. “We’re not there yet in terms of close to any deals.”

The General Manager’s Meetings are set for next week in Orlando, which pretty much launch the Hot Stove Season.

The Marlins are in the market for power hitters, and they plan to explore options at third base and catcher.

The organization feels Rob Brantly would benefit with more time in Triple-A.

Miami has a surplus of high-end, young pitching that it may need to part with to lure in a power bat.

Joe Frisaro

Five Marlins set for free agency

MIAMI — The procedural stage of free agency is officially underway.

On Thursday, the MLB Players Association released its complete list of 147 free agents who qualify under Article XX B of the Basic Agreement.

Five members of the 2013 Marlins are listed — OF Matt Diaz, OF Austin Kearns, OF Juan Pierre, 3B Placido Polanco and right-hander Chad Qualls.

Each team has five days to exclusively negotiate with its free agents. But the Marlins are not expected to reach agreement with any of the five in that time frame.

The most likely candidate to come to a deal in five-day window is Qualls, who has expressed an interest to return. The Marlins also have had interest in retaining the veteran reliever.

As of 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, free agents are eligible to negotiate and sign with any club.

Joe Frisaro

Trade deadline passes with no deals for Marlins

MIAMI — About 15 minutes before Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins sent out a text to an undisclosed team about a possible trade scenario.

“We threw out a couple of names,” president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

The last-ditch, Hail Mary proposal was eventually answered with a, no thanks.

With that, the Trade Deadline passed without the Marlins making any moves.

It’s not surprising, because the club was bracing to stay the course. It has been discussed internally for a while with owner Jeffrey Loria, Beinfest, general manager Michael Hill and the rest of the organization.

“I think when Mike and I got in the office this morning, and updated Jeffrey, I don’t think we thought anything was going to happen,” Beinfest said. “It kind of turned out that way. We were on the phone. There were texts. There were some ideas. We threw out an idea late. It was kind of a normal day. We never got the sense that anything was close.”

The Marlins still could be active in August, when the waiver trading period gets underway.

“You never know,” Beinfest said. “Things change every day. Injuries. People on a run, not on a run. You just never know. We’ve made a bunch of deals in the last year. Today wasn’t our day to make a deal.”

It was expected that the Marlins would not move slugger Giancarlo Stanton, barring an overwhelming offer that never materialized. Closer Steve Cishek and lefty reliever Mike Dunn had drawn interest in recent months. All three are expected to be core players as the organization moves forward the rest of the season and into 2014.

Even a veteran like Chad Qualls, a free agent after the season, has value to the organization in its attempt to win as many games as possible.

Placido Polanco could be a candidate to be moved in August. There could be a potential match with the Yankees, who may have a need for third base depth.

Joe Frisaro

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