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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

Nolasco, Stanton part of Marlins’ plans

MIAMI — Expect Ricky Nolasco to be with the Marlins in 2013, and the organization hopes to have Giancarlo Stanton playing in Miami for the foreseeable future.

Marlins president David Samson addressed both players on Thursday during a radio segment on “The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz” on 790 AM The Ticket.

Nolasco, in the final year of his contract, has been the subject of trade rumors of late. But Samson gave a definitive “yes.”

“Yes. Yes, he will,” Samson said when asked if Nolasco would be with the team next year.

Nolasco, the franchise’s all-time victory leader, is signed for $11.5 million, making him the highest-paid player on the roster.

Many fans are wondering about Stanton, who still hasn’t reached his arbitration years. The Marlins have no intention on trading their 23-year-old slugger, who was second in the National League in home runs in 2012.

“Giancarlo is on the team for, I want to say, four years at the minimum,” Samson said. “We’d love to have him end his career here because we think he is that good. If he wants to be with us, we will be able to work out something long term. If not, not. But we’re not even up to that now.”

Stanton will be eligible for arbitration in 2014, and eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

“Having him in the lineup and healthy is critical,” Samson said. “If he can play a full season his numbers will be quote spectacular.”

Joe Frisaro

Marlins not intending to trade Stanton

MIAMI — Major turnover is taking place with the Marlins, but a player not being shopped is Giancarlo Stanton.

The Marlins have no intention to trade their All-Star right fielder. According to a source, the slugger pretty much remains untouchable, at least for 2013.

Miami has Stanton under club control for one more season before he is eligible for arbitration. And he won’t have the necessary service time to become a free agent until after the 2016 season.

Currently, the Marlins are not in discussions with Stanton’s representatives regarding a long-term contract.

Despite being limited by injuries to 123 games, Stanton finished second in the National League in home runs with 37. He’s belted 93 home runs in 373 games since being called up in June of 2010.

The Marlins are finalizing a blockbuster deal that will send Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Blue Jays.

In return, the Marlins will receive Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and prospects Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani.

Stanton, who turned 23 on Nov. 8, expressed his frustration via Twitter on Tuesday after learning of Miami’s pending trade with Toronto. “Alright, I’m [ticked] off!!! Plain & Simple,” Stanton tweeted.

Tuesday’s trade removes about $160 million of base salary commitments off Miami’s books.

Although the trade is unpopular in South Florida, the Marlins are redirecting and are hopeful they’ve added pieces for a better future. Also, they’ve created payroll flexibility.

Stanton’s role with the organization magnifies now as he has become the face of the franchise.

Joe Frisaro

Are the Marlins willing to trade starting pitching?

MIAMI — There has been plenty of speculation, but little evidence that the Marlins are ready to trade any of the veteran starting pitchers.

Unless the club is presented with an offer too attractive to pass up, chances are Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Ricky Nolasco will remain in Miami.

Johnson and Nolasco are each signed through 2013. Barring them signing extensions, both would be free agents next year.

Johnson is set to make $13.75 million, the highest base salary of any Miami player in 2013. Nolasco is due to earn $11.5 million.

Buehrle’s salary for 2013 is $11 million, and the veteran left-hander is owed $48 million through 2015.

After finishing last in the National League East for the second straight season, the Marlins are certainly open to making moves that will benefit them in 2013 and beyond.

To make immediate strides next season, the Marlins will be relying heavily on strong starting pitching. Johnson, Buehrle and Nolasco each have track records of success, and all three threw more than 190 innings in ’12.

There is a feeling that if any of them is seriously discussed in trade talks, it would be closer to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline than before the start of Spring Training.

Joe Frisaro

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