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Speculation still centered on Nolasco

ATLANTA — When Ricky Nolasco exited after five-plus innings in his start last Friday against the Padres, it appeared he could be making his final appearance with the Marlins.

But now that he has been announced as Miami’s starter on Wednesday night at Atlanta, it is evident the 30-year-old will be with the club at least a few more days.

The subject of constant trade rumors, Nolasco is expected to be dealt before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. It’s just a matter of when.

Right now, nothing is imminent.

One source said, “There are many lines in the water, but nothing has been lured in.”

On Sunday, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest spoke generally about Nolasco to Jim Bowden and Jeff Joyce during an MLB Network Radio appearance on Sirius/XM.

“As far as all the rumors, we’re getting to that time of the year when this stuff starts to fly,” Beinest said in his radio segment. “Obviously there’s been a lot of stuff out there on Ricky and understandably. He’s a would-be free agent and making a lot of money here. People will speculate we have some good young pitching coming and he may not be part of the program. All those things are fair.

“We’ll see what happens. I’m not going to get out there and talk about everything, especially rumors.”

The Dodgers are believed to be the frontrunners for Nolasco, a Southern California native who would be an ideal fit.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com added the Rockies have offered two decent prospects, but they are hesitant to pick up all of the remaining $5.7 million owed to Nolasco this season.

Nolasco is making $11.5 million in the last of his three-year, $26.5 million contract.

The Giants, Orioles, Rangers, Pirates and Red Sox all have had some measure of interest.

Clearly, money is an issue. Not every team at this point is willing to absorb nearly $6 million. The Dodgers appear the most willing, but then the Marlins may risk getting a lesser prospect in exchange.

Most likely Nolasco will be moved by the All-Star Break because the organization is getting Henderson Alvarez back into the rotation after the right-hander has missed all of the season with shoulder inflammation.

The Marlins have other young starting pitchers they want to see, and Nolasco is not part of their long-term future.

– Joe Frisaro

Nolasco may have made final start for Miami

MIAMI — After giving up four straight hits to start the sixth inning on Friday night, Ricky Nolasco handed the ball Marlins manager Mike Redmond and he trotted towards the dugout.

The Marlins Park crowd gave the 30-year-old a nice applause in what just might have been his final appearance in a Miami uniform.

Nolasco, a free agent after the season, had a rough night in a 9-2 loss to the Padres. But the veteran right-hander has enough of a track record to draw plenty of interest on the trade market.

It is no secret Nolasco is expected to be dealt by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

It certainly appears a deal will get done well before the end of July,, and it could be made before Nolasco’s next scheduled start, which would be Wednesday at Atlanta.

The Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Orioles and Pirates are among teams interested. The Dodgers are believed to be the frontrunner.

Nolasco, the Marlins’ all-time leader in wins, is 80-72 in eight seasons with the organization. He also holds franchise marks in a number of categories, including games pitched (212), starts (196), innings pitched (1,218 2/3) and strikeouts (994).

Nolasco is well aware he could be on the move soon. The right-hander just doesn’t know if Friday’s loss was his final game with Miami.

“I’m the wrong person to answer that question,” Nolasco said. “That’s for the front office and stuff. I’m not thinking like that. I’m just thinking day by day, coming in, doing my work and getting ready for every fifth day.”

Another indicator that Nolasco may indeed be moved within a few days is the fact Henderson Alvarez is ready to join the rotation. Alvarez, acquired from the Blue Jays last November, had another impressive rehab performance for Double-A Jacksonville.

The right-hander also threw on Friday, tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks against Mobile. In two rehab games with the Suns, Alvarez has threw 14 1/3 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Alvarez opened the season on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Healthy, he is lined up to replace Nolasco in the rotation.

For Nolasco, the Marlins will likely receive a mid-to-upper range prospect. The return could come down to how much of the remaining roughly $6 million Nolasco is owed for the rest of the season.

While Nolasco is on the verge of being traded, the Marlins are showing signs of keeping Giancarlo Stanton. It appears not just through the end of the season, but for 2014 as well.

Stanton is eligible for arbitration next year, and the club plans on approaching the slugger about a long-term contract. Even if Stanton isn’t looking to get locked up to a multi-year deal, the Marlins have internally discussed that fact the right fielder could basically fill the salary slot Nolasco has this year.

Nolasco is making $11.5 million, and Stanton could approach $7 million to $10 million in arbitration.

A portion of that $11.5 million the team also could put towards retaining first baseman Logan Morrison next year, when he also reaches arbitration for the first time.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton

MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton is a force in the middle of the Miami Marlins. But like any player in the organization, the 23-year-old slugger is not considered “untouchable.”

But that doesn’t mean the Marlins are actively looking to deal Stanton or that the club is planning on trading him anytime soon.

Still, Stanton speculation is running high.

On Sunday, the All-Star right fielder’s name surfaced once again after a Sirius/XM/MLB Network Radio report.

Marlins assistant GM, Dan Jennings, was a guest on the “Front Office” show, with hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette.

Jennings was asked if the Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton. Per company policy, the team does so on any player.

“Oh, I think that’s been our M.O.  I know in the 10 years I’ve been here that’s our M.O.,” Jennings said during the radio segment. “We’ve never not listened to a deal on any player. Sometimes I chuckle when I hear people say, ‘This guy’s untouchable,’ and ‘That guy’s untouchable.’  You know what? They may be untouchable until someone either overwhelms you or you get a package back that makes such a significant improvement on your club going forward. So we’ve always been willing to listen.”

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest has long stated the same points.

“I think Larry, he’s never said, ‘No.’ But what we’re not going to do is move a player for less than what we value their ability,” Jennings said. “In Giancarlo Stanton you’ve got a [23-year-old] guy that we think going forward has got a chance to be a .300 hitter and [hit] 50 home runs and be a guy that is a big-time run producer. So while we’re not shopping him, certainly not looking to move him, yeah, if someone knocked on our door and said, ‘Hey, would you guys consider this and this and this,’ you have to listen.”

Basically, Jennings repeated the team policy, and there isn’t anything new here, other than a team official publicly addressing Stanton by name.

Yes, the Marlins would move Stanton, but only for a tremendous haul, which means, he would essentially clean out the top prospects of any organization. It would basically take four or maybe five players to complete a deal for Stanton.

Stanton will not be arbitration eligible until 2014, and he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. So the Marlins are in no rush to trade Stanton. Yet, it remains highly unlikely he will agree to a long-term contract.

It is appearing more inevitable that sometime before he reaches free agency that Stanton will be moved, because the Marlins are reloading their roster, and will look to add as many quality pieces in the next few years.

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

Marlins not pursuing Alvarez or Diaz

MIAMI — Two touted Cuban prospects will work out for MLB scouts on Jan. 5. Don’t expect the Marlins to pursue either one of them.

According to a source, Miami has zero interest in either Dariel Alvarez or Aledmys Diaz, two Cuban natives who were declared free agents earlier this month.

Alvarez is a 24-year-old outfielder, and Diaz, 22, is a shortstop.

The Marlins are not expected to attend their workout.

A year ago, the Marlins aggressively pursued Cuban-born outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who ended up signing with the A’s. The organization was in a different situation then, looking for a big year with an expensive roster that has since been broken up.

At this point, the Marlins are not willing to spend multi-million dollars on unproven international players.

While the Marlins don’t like to use the word “rebuilding,” there is little pretense about what the franchise is looking to accomplish right now. Although it is unpopular to part with proven players like Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, Miami is in the process of restocking the organization from the bottom up.

At the big league level, they may be bracing to take their lumps for a couple of years, but the hope is they will develop the necessary foundation to come out of the stretch stronger in the future.

And there are some solid prospects like Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick who aren’t that far away from being big league ready.

Development is about to take on a greater importance, since the club isn’t expected to be a serious player on the free agent market for at least a year or two.

To turn things around as quickly as possible, the Marlins will be looking to find impact players in their First-Year Player Draft, as well as making sure they receive value in return on any trades that may be made in the near future.

So don’t look for any quick-fix, high-cost signings, or for Miami to be in the mix for Alvarez or Diaz.

Joe Frisaro

Could Hamilton’s decision sway Marlins’ thinking?

MIAMI — What’s happening with the Angels may have a domino effect that could impact the Marlins.

Josh Hamilton, the biggest free agent on the market, reportedly has reached agreement on a five-year, $125 million contract with the Angels.

Once the signing becomes official, the balance in the American League West has again shifted. The Angels’ lineup becomes perhaps the best in the game.

So what’s next for the Rangers?

All eyes turn to them to see if they will make a counter punch. If they do, they may have to seek a big trade.

Or how about the Angels? They now have a surplus of outfielders, and they too may seek to make more deals.

At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins told teams that Giancarlo Stanton is not available. That was then, prior to Hamilton relocating to Southern California.

The Rangers have a loaded farm system, and if they are willing to offer some of their top young players, the Marlins may be in position to cash in, if they don’t consider Stanton part of their long-term plans.

Would Miami be tempted to move Stanton if suddenly Jurickson Profar and/or Mike Olt are centerpieces in a deal?

The Marlins also could be positioning themselves to tap into what the Angels now have available.

Peter Bourjos, a speedy outfielder, has been on the Marlins’ radar for a while. Could he suddenly be had in a trade? Mark Trumbo and Kendrys Morales also may be on the market.

Miami’s farm system is substantial stronger since the Nov. 19 trade with the Blue Jays. If something makes sense, there are prospects who could be moved.

Since the Winter Meetings, the Marlins have been searching for a third baseman. Now, the landscape for trades has changed. Will Miami’s front office also have a change of heart and seek more deals?

Joe Frisaro

 

A’s, Rays among teams interested in Escobar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Trade talks have picked up regarding Yunel Escobar, and the Rays and A’s are among the teams most interested.

The Marlins are planning on dealing Escobar, quite possibly before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Escobar, a veteran infielder, was acquired by the Marlins on Nov. 19 from the Blue Jays. A career shortstop, Miami was considering playing Escobar at third base.

In return, the Marlins are likely to receive a Triple-A pitcher.

In other news, the Marlins main their firm stance that they will not trade slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Plenty of teams, including the Yankees, have inquired about the All-Star right fielder. The Marlins are telling teams Stanton is not available.

Also, the Marlins do not intend on trading Ricky Nolasco. On Monday, the right-hander’s agent, Matt Sosnick, made it public that Nolasco would prefer to be dealt before the start of Spring Training.

Nolasco is lined up to make $11.5 million in 2013, the final year of his contract. There is a chance he still could be moved by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Joe Frisaro

Marlins actively shopping Escobar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Two weeks after being acquired by the Marlins, Yunel Escobar could be on the move yet again.

According to a source, Miami is actively trying to trade the veteran infielder. At least two teams are involved in discussions, with one of them believed to be the A’s.

A deal could be reached before the Winter Meetings end on Thursday.

Escobar was obtained by the Marins as part of a 12-player trade with Toronto that was finalized on Nov. 19.

Escobar is under contract for $5 million in 2013, with club options of $5 million for 2014 and ’15.

The Marlins were projecting him to play third base, although he is a natural shortstop.

Joe Frisaro

Pavano has interest in Marlins

MIAMI — Some old faces have already returned to the Marlins. Could a former starting pitcher be next?

Carl Pavano, part of the Marlins’ 2003 World Series title team, has made it clear that he would welcome a return to the organization.

The 36-year-old right-hander told the Palm Beach Post that he wants to pitch again for the Marlins. And next week, his agent, Dave Pepe, plans on reaching out to Miami management at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

Miami management has a long-standing relationship with Pavano, stemming from his days in Montreal and Florida. In 2004, Pavano won 18 games for the Marlins, and the following season he signed as a free agent with the Yankees.

Pavano certainly has connections with the current Miami staff. He was a teammate of new manager Mike Redmond with the Marlins, and also in Minnesota.

Pavano also was a teammate of Miami manager Mike Redmond

There is a health risk with Pavano, who was hampered by a right shoulder injury last year. His fastball velocity dipped to 86 mph last season.

Pavano, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens, told the Post that his shoulder is now fine.

“Obviously I had some issues last year, but I’ve been able to put those behind me. I’m looking forward to continuing my workouts and seeing what this off-season brings me,’’ Pavano said.

The Marlins have signed one major free agent this offseason, bringing back outfielder Juan Pierre.

Joe Frisaro

 

Impact of Marlins Park in Miami power search

MIAMI — Adding some power is a priority of the Marlins as they prepare for the Winter Meetings.

Ryan Raburn, who cleared waivers on Monday, fits the mold of what the team is seeking.

Miami hit 137 home runs in 2012, with 37 coming from Giancarlo Stanton. The Marlins were tied with the Cubs for the 23rd most in the big leagues.

In Miami, home runs were even more of a challenge for any team. According to StatsPass, expansive Marlins Park was the third toughest building in the big leagues to belt a home run. There were just 113 total homers at Miami’s new building.

The Marlins hit 55 of their 137 home runs at home, which also ranked 28th.

Watching long drives, especially to center field wind up being loud-outs, prompted Miami first baseman Carlos Lee to have some fun with opponents. Seeing their reaction go from excitement to disappointment after a long fly out, Lee would quip: “Not at Marlins Park. Not in Miami.”

On the road, Miami hit 82 home runs, middle of the pack at 14th overall.

Marlins officials have repeatedly said they have no intention on moving in the fences. If that is the case, it will be challenging to attract an established free agent power hitter.

Still, the team could look to stock up on more players capable of reaching 15-20. Basically, players who pull the ball, have a greater chance of hitting home runs in Miami. Cody Ross, anyone?

Obviously, home runs don’t measure the success of a team. All you have to do is see that the Giants hit just 31 home runs at home. And AT&T Park overall was dead last, with 84 home runs.

With their ballpark playing big, the Marlins appear to be building like the Giants, around pitching, defense and timely hitting.

Total home runs in each ballpark

Yankee Stadium                 232

Miller Park                    230

U.S. Cellular Field            228

Camden Yards                   226

Coors Field                    218

Rogers Centre                  204

Rangers Ballpark               202

Great American                 199

Fenway Park                    185

Citizens Bank Park             175

Chase Field                    174

Target Field                   167

Nationals Park                 165

Angel Stadium                  161

Comerica Park                  159

Minute Maid Park               158

Citi Field                     155

O.co Coliseum                  153

Wrigley Field                  153

Progressive Field              149

Kauffman Stadium               149

Busch Stadium                  140

Turner Field                   137

Tropicana Field                137

Dodger Stadium                 126

PNC Park                       125

Safeco Field                   116

Marlins Park                   113

PETCO Park                     109

AT&T Park                       84

(Courtesy of StatsPass)

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

 

Raburn could be a fit in Miami

MIAMI — The Marlins are scanning the market for low-risk, high-reward players with some power.

A potential candidate is now available. The Tigers released Ryan Raburn on Tuesday, and the Marlins are a realistic option, according to a source.

The 31-year-old from Tampa has been a versatile, all-purpose player for the Tigers, seeing action at second base, left field and right field in 2012. He’s also played some third base in his seven seasons in Detroit.

Raburn made $2.1 million in 2012.

Last season, the right-handed hitter was hindered by a slow start, and a couple of injuries. He went on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb, and a strained right quadriceps. In 66 games, he batted .171.

But from 2009-11, Raburn batted .274 with 45 homers and 156 RBIs.

The Marlins are looking for depth at second base, third base and outfield.

Joe Frisaro

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