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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

Could Red Sox sway Marlins to move Stanton?

MIAMI — It’s a day away from the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and all appears quiet in Marlins camp.

Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline is expected to come and go with little to no activity.

Still, you never know.

Contending teams have been calling regularly on a number of core Miami players. They’re repeatedly told closer Steve Cishek is not available. Most likely that will be the stock answer to any core player wearing the multi-colored Marlins’ uniforms.

As the deadline appears, worth watching is if a contender can offer a substantial package of players that would lure in slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

The 23-year-old, viewed as a building block in Miami, is not expected to go anywhere. Not just for the remainder of 2013, but in 2014 and perhaps beyond, either.

Right now, the Marlins have pretty much closed the door on any Stanton offers. The challenge for a contender is seeing if they can convince the Miami brass to even listen?

It’s no secret that the Rangers and Pirates have repeatedly checked in on Stanton. All their calls have been met with a resounding, “No.”

Is there a team out there who won’t take “no” for an answer and somehow get Miami to say, yes?

If there is a sleeper squad, it could be the Red Sox.

A league source said Boston may be willing to part with whatever it takes in hopes of swaying the Marlins to relocate Stanton to Fenway Park.

The Red Sox indeed have a strong system, and it would likely take four or five players alone to secure Stanton’s services.

But is there a fit between the clubs?

The Red Sox top prospect is shortstop Xander Bogaerts, ranked by MLB.com as the sixth overall prospect in the game.

But the Marlins have Adeiny Hechavarria, a shortstop many in the organization feel is the best defender at his position in the National League. What if Bogaerts is able to switch to second base? If so, an Hechavarria-Bogaerts middle infield could be attractive to Miami.

Boston’s No. 2 ranked prospect is Jackie Bradley, a left-handed hitting outfielder, who also likely would have to be included in any potential deal.

From Miami’s point of view, is there a need for Bradley? If Stanton is dealt, the organization could then go with Christian Yelich in left, Jake Marisnick in center and Marcell Ozuna in right. So where would Bradley fit? Or is he an upgrade over any of the players Miami already has in the outfield. If not, it wouldn’t make sense for the Marlins.

Ozuna, however, will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing left thumb surgery. Certainly, outfield depth would be needed.

Another position the Marlins would likely want is pitching. The club pretty much seeks a pitcher in return of any trade they make.

Pitchers Allen Webster and Henry Owens are Boston’s third and fourth ranked prospects, respectively. Lefty Trey Ball was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

Would those five or four of those five get a deal done? Or it could be a combination of three or four top prospects, and a player or two already on Boston’s big league roster?

For Stanton, pretty much any team would have to be willing to clean out their farm system. Even then, the Marlins may so no.

The main reason why the Marlins aren’t expected to make any major moves now is they like where they are headed. Team chemistry is the highest it’s been in years. On the field, the club has played drastically better the past two months, and with a wealth of talented pitchers, they may be a year or two away from being a contender. That’s staying with what they have, and making minor adjustments.

Stanton, remember, is just 23, and there is no urgency to move him.

While eligible for free agency in 2014, he won’t be a free agent until after the 2016 season. Miami coud be serious contenders by 2015, which falls within Stanton’s arbitration-years window. So even if the slugger doesn’t accept a substantial multi-year offer from Miami, he could stick around a while.

It’s clear as long as Stanton stays in Miami, rumors that he will eventually be moved will follow.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins unlikely to make major deals

MIAMI — Trade speculation promises to rise as Wednesday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, and the Marlins are content to pretty much remain inactive.

The club already made its major move, dealing Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects on July 6.

Pretty much every contending team in need of relief pitching has already been told closer Steve Cishek and lefty Mike Dunn are not available. Several other clubs have inquired about veteran Chad Qualls, a free agent at the end of the season.

Even for Qualls, who is not guaranteed to be part of Miami’s plans for ’14, isn’t actively being shopped.

The Marlins are leaning towards retaining Qualls, barring a team overpaying for the right-hander, who has done a solid job in a setup role.

Why not deal Qualls? It’s pretty simple. The Marlins are looking to win as many games as possible in the second half. If the team was in a downward spiral right now, their thinking likely would be different.

But Miami, while 39-62 overall, is 26-21 since May 31.

It’s a pretty remarkable turnaround since starting off 14-41 in April and May.

With young pitchers like Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Turner and Henderson Alvarez each throwing well, the organization doesn’t want to see winnable games slip away due to inexperienced relievers.

So if the return for Qualls isn’t something worth the Marlins’ while, then they are perfectly satisfied with keeping the veteran through the end of the season.

The biggest name on the Marlins repeatedly mentioned in trade speculation is Giancarlo Stanton. Each day brings another report with the 23-year-old slugger’s name attached.

It’s been reported that the Rangers and Pirates are calling regularly, and they repeatedly are told the same thing — no.

The bottom line with Stanton is he isn’t available, not now and pretty much not in the offseason.

Stanton will qualify for arbitration for the first time in 2014, and his salary will jump into the neighborhood of $6.5 million or perhaps another half million more.

Whatever the exact figure will be is affordable for the Marlins.

Besides, the club already has said publicly that it plans on approaching Stanton about a significant multi-year offer. Even if he doesn’t accept it, the Marlins are willing to retain the slugger through at least the start of 2014.

Quite simply, the Marlins need Stanton’s power. That has been magnified even more with the recent left thumb injury to Marcell Ozuna, a candidate to eventually replace Stanton in right field.

As an organization, there isn’t a surplus of power. So the team is looking to find it from within. The Marlins aren’t planning on being active in the free agent market for a power hitter, so retaining Stanton is a high priority.

The Marlins are last in the Majors in runs scored with 321, and that figure is pretty far back of the White Sox, who rank 29th in runs with 377. Stanton missed all of May with a strained right hamstring, and that’s when the team struggled miserably.

Miami also is last in home runs with 61, two behind the Giants.

And the Marlins’ slugging percentage of .337 also ranks at the bottom in the Majors. The Yankees are next in that category at .371.

Candidates who could be moved are Ryan Webb and Justin Ruggiano.

Between now and the Trade Deadline, calls are expected to come in and go out, but the Marlins aren’t expected to be a main trade attraction by the middle of next week.

Joe Frisaro

Ruggiano likely candidate to be traded

MIAMI — With their top two prospects called up, the Marlins have a couple of outfielders who are expendable.

Justin Ruggiano and Juan Pierre will see their playing time drastically reduced now that Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick have been promoted from Double-A Jacksonville.

Ruggiano, especially, becomes a candidate to be traded by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The 31-year-old can play all three outfield spots, and he provides power. His 12 home runs lead the Marlins. but he’s mired in an 0-for-30 slump since his last hit on July 8.

The dryspell has dropped his batting average to .202.

According to various reports, the Yankees, Rangers, Phillies and Giants have a level of interest.

Because he is out of options, and doesn’t figure to be part of the team’s plans next year, Ruggiano is a strong candidate to be moved either at the deadline or sometime in August, during the waiver trade period.

Pierre, meanwhile, is 35 and he is a favorite of the organization. The veteran speedster likely will remain with the club for the remainder of the season, unless there is a contending team interested in his services. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

If Ruggiano is dealt, Pierre could see more playing time in spot starts. Yelich is playing left field, but he could move to center field if Marisnick is given a day off or replaced in a double-switch situation.

A key member of the Marlins’ 2003 World Series team, Pierre’s role now is mostly as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Pierre remains popular in the clubhouse, and he is seen as a valuable asset to provide leadership and insight to the young players.

Pierre lives in South Florida, and when he retires as a player, the Marlins would strongly consider having him work in their organization, perhaps as a coach.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins leaning towards staying the course

MIAMI — Teams that reach the All-Star Break firmly in last place typically consider making major moves by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

That may be the case for many clubs. But it’s not what the Marlins are thinking.

After falling 5-2 in 10 innings to the Nationals on Sunday, Miami entered the break with a 35-58 record. Still, there is plenty of reason for optimism, mainly because its young core is coming together.

Since May 31, the Marlins are 22-17. And they are 21-17 since June 1, compared to a 14-41 mark in April and May.

The fact they’ve built some positive momentum has the Marlins leaning towards staying the course as the July 31 deadline approaches. They aren’t anticipating making any major trades.

Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn have all been mentioned in trade speculation. All four are eligible for arbitration next year. But the bottom line is all four are considered building blocks for the remainder of this year and in 2014. Don’t expect any of them to be dealt. Of course, a team willing to dramatically overpay could change things. But that is highly unlikely.

In summing up the first half, first-year manager Mike Redmond noted the Marlins are pleased with the improvement, but they recognize there is plenty of room for improvement.

“By no means are we satisfied with where we are at,” Redmond said. “We know we can get better. We know we can continue to improve. We’ll go out there in the second half, and hopefully have a great second half and finish strong.”

The Marlins pretty much made their big move already. A week ago, they dealt Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers for three pitching prospects.

It was no secret Nolasco was available, because the right-hander will be a free agent after the season. The Marlins feel they have a group of young starting pitchers to replace Nolasco, so they weren’t planning on making an offer to retain him.

With Stanton, there isn’t an obvious replacement. His power is critical for a team that is last in the Majors in home runs. And he’s a threat at Marlins Park, which has allowed the fewest amount of homers of any stadium this year.

Morrison also is viewed as a building block because he is the primary power threat from the left side, and he has the ability to become highly productive. Injuries slowed him down, and the team wants to see what he can do playing regularly.

Cishek has not been made available, largely because with so much strong, young starting pitching, the Marlins are counting on a reliable closer to secure wins. The organization doesn’t want to demoralize its young pitching by having late leads disappear.

For another club to acquire Cishek, its bidding likely would have to start with their No. 1 prospect. Even then, finding a match appears remote.

The Tigers, for instance, have a need. But even their top prospect, Nick Castellanos, may not be a fit. Castellonas plays third base and outfield, two areas the Marlins already have prospects.

The Marlins just signed their first-round pick, third baseman Colin Moran, for $3.5 million. Moran is viewed as the third baseman of the future. And they have young outfielders like Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick. Both could be called up in the second half. So there is an outfield surplus, which also limits the trade market.

Candidates the Marlins could trade are relievers Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls. Placido Polanco, Justin Ruggiano and Greg Dobbs are position players who are possible trade pieces.

Even they may not be moved in July.

Chances are the Marlins could make more moves in August, during the waiver-trade period than by the end of July.

Right now, the club wants to see how its core progresses together.

Joe Frisaro

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