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Marlins looking to buy, Stanton not for sale

HOUSTON — Five days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and Giancarlo Stanton remains not available. This is no big revelation to those around the Marlins, but it remains the most asked question to those on the outside.

Occasionally, the Marlins will field a call from a club hoping to hear otherwise. The answer is always an emphatic — not available.

Five days before the deadline, the Marlins are hoping to become buyers. Winning four of five to open their road trip has raised optimism and hope they can make a playoff push.

A starting pitcher is on their shopping list, but the urgency could subside if Brad Hand and Jacob Turner reach their potential in a hurry. Hand is doing so, coming off an impressive two straight wins of throwing at least seven innings.

At Minute Maid Park on Friday night, Hand threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings in Miami’s 2-0 win over the Astros.

Turner will start on Sunday at Houston.

Adding an experienced arm to the rotation could benefit the entire staff, as well as energize the clubhouse. But the deal has to make sense in order to pull the trigger.

Brad Penny, currently at Triple-A New Orleans, is another option in his attempt to return to the big leagues for the first time since 2012.

Pitching aside, the Marlins also have made finding a regular second baseman a high priority. Ideally, they’d like a speedy middle infielder to hit at the top of the order, either first or second.

The candidate doesn’t necessarily have to be big league proven. Someone at Double-A or above and is considered big league ready would fit the profile.

The way the team has trended the past week has increased the club’s interest in buying.

Joe Frisaro

McGehee not on trade market

ATLANTA — Casey McGehee entered Tuesday night ranked third in the National League in batting average (.322) and tied for first in hits (121). For good measure, the Marlins third baseman is tied for ninth in RBIs (56).

With production across the board, McGehee has established himself once again in the Major Leagues after he spent 2013 in Japan.

The Marlins like McGehee so much that the 31-year-old is part of their longer-range plans.

McGehee’s name is starting to pop up in trade rumors. Jon Heyman of CBS.com and MLB Network reports teams have contacted the Marlins about McGehee. The Mariners, in the market for a right-handed hitting bat, are said to be interested.

However, the Marlins are not shopping McGehee.

McGehee, signed for $1.1 million, has one more season of arbitration eligibility. So the Marlins can retain him in 2015, at a sizeable raise. Miami also is open to offering the third baseman an extension for a few more seasons.

McGehee has offered protection behind Giancarlo Stanton, and he’s been a clubhouse leader.

Right now, Miami views McGehee as a core player, who is under club control. There are no plans to move him.

Joe Frisaro

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

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