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
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
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
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
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
ATLANTA — The Marlins have acquired Minor League third baseman Zack Cox from the Cardinals for reliever Edward Mujica.
The Marlins announced the trade about an hour before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
Miami also has dealt first baseman Gaby Sanchez, an All-Star in 2011, to the Pirates for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.
Mujica, 28, has been a late-inning setup reliever. The right-hander has appeared in 41 games with an 0-3 record and 4.38 ERA in 39 innings.
He went on the disabled list on June 30 with a broken bone to his right pinky toe. He was reinstated on July 18.
The Marlins acquired Mujica, along with Ryan Webb, from the Padres for Cameron Maybin after the 2010 season.
Cox, 23, was the 25th pick overall in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He will report to Double-A Jacksonville.
At Triple-A Memphis, Cox batted .254 with nine home runs and 30 RBIs.
Sanchez, a Miami native who attended the University of Miami, was the Marlins Opening Day first baseman for three seasons. But he struggled this year, and was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
With the Marlins, Sanchez batted .202 with three home runs and 17 RBIs. His final at-bat with Miami came on July 4, when he belted a game-tying home run in the ninth inning off the Brewers.
He was optioned to New Orleans after that game because the Marlins acquired first baseman Carlos Lee.
At New Orleans, Sanchez was batting .302 with five home runs and 18 RBIs.
Hernandez, 24, is a right-handed hitting outfielder who batted .257 at Triple-A Indianapolis. In 25 games with the Pirates, he was 2-for-25.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — The Marlins are aggressively pursuing at least one more trade, but it doesn’t involve Josh Johnson.
Johnson is expected to remain with the Marlins, but some other possible deals are in the works, according to a source.
The Marlins are seeking outfield help, and they are exploring the trade market.
Miami is trying to trade catcher John Buck, who is signed through 2013. Buck is making $6 million this year and next. The 32-year-old is batting .169 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.
Brett Hayes has started at catcher the past two games. If Buck is dealt, Miami could be ready to promote Rob Brantly from Triple-A New Orleans.
Brantly, a left-handed hitter, was one of three prospects the Marlins acquired from the Tigers last week for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez.
The non-waiver trade deadline is at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Miami also would listen to offers for Carlos Lee and Heath Bell.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Set the odds once again at 50/50 that Josh Johnson will be moved by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
A source on Friday said if the Marlins are offered the right pieces, ”he will go.”
The Marlins are not eager to part with their 28-year-old ace. But the team is fielding calls, and about a handful of clubs continue to express interest, including the Rangers, Angels and Blue Jays.
The Marlins are looking for the kind of return the Padres got when they sent Mat Latos to the Reds last December. San Diego received Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Brad Boxberger and Yasmani Grandal.
If a big package isn’t presented, Miami is perfectly content keeping Johnson at the front of their rotation for the remainder of his contract. His deal runs through 2013.
Whether Johnson will stay or go has been widely speculated for days. About 25 scouts were on hand for his last start, when he beat the Braves on Monday.
It might have been Johnson’s most dominating performance of the season, nine strikeouts in six shutout innings. He was lifted after six innings due to a cut near the nail of his right middle finger.
The trade climate surrounding Johnson changes, seemingly on a day to day basis.
On Wednesday, after Miami dealt Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate to the Dodgers, there were strong indications that Johnson would stay in Miami.
He still may.
But other teams maintain interest.
The Marlins are looking for a hefty package in return. If it’s not presented, then Johnson will surely remain with the Marlins, where he is signed for $13.75 million in ’13.
So the Marlins have some leverage with the right-hander.
There is a health concern with Johnson, who missed most of last year due to right shoulder inflammation. But the two-time All-Star has made 20 starts, and he has thrown 119 2/3 innings to go along with a 6-7 record and 4.14 ERA.
His velocity has been more in the 93-94 mph range than the 96-97 heater he was throwing in 2011 before being shut down.
While he has been healthy the whole season, he’s also been rusty at times. That is understandable due to all the missed time.
Being healthy is one step. Regaining sharpness is another.
If his start against the Braves is an indication, then Johnson may be progressing to the elite status he held before being hurt.
His curveball baffled the Atlanta hitters that day, and his slider was sharp.
With everything working, Johnson allowed one hit and no walks to go along with his nine strikeouts in six innings.
Johnson’s next scheduled to start on Sunday in the series finale with the Padres at Marlins Park.
The rumors surrounding him promise to remain until the deadline passes.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Whether Hanley Ramirez remains with the Marlins through the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline could come down to what the 28-year-old shows on the field this week.
The subject of trade speculation, Ramirez is back in the lineup on Tuesday after missing four straight starts due to inflammation in his right hand.
After trading Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers on Monday, the Marlins remain open for business on the trade front.
Ramirez has emerged as a prime target. The trouble is, he hasn’t played in a few days, and scouts haven’t been able to look at the former three-time All-Star more closely.
The Red Sox and A’s are reportedly interested.
Boston could be a fit, because it is the organization that Ramirez broke in with. While Ramirez switched to third base this year, he could go back to playing shortstop. Or he could be used as a designated hitter on occasion.
Ramirez is a close friend of David Ortiz, who could be a positive influence.
While the Marlins trimmed about $8 million off their payroll with Monday’s trade, the team could be looking to trim more.
An MLB source said that the Marlins haven’t indicated they are looking to dump big contracts. Still, the team’s attendance in their first year at Marlins Park is lower than projected.
The Opening Day figure is $101,628,000, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts web site. It was a more modest $57,695,000 in 2011. Attendance has been solid, at 28,000, but the team was hopeful to be averaging about 34,000.
With the team being a long shot to reach the playoffs, management is opening to making deals.
The one untouchable is Giancarlo Stanton. Let’s put that to rest.
It’s also extremely doubtful the club would move Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.
Reyes, even in a down year, plays a premium position, and he’s in his prime. He’s riding a 12-game hitting streak, and showing signs of being his old self. The Marlins are comfortable with Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio as a double-play combination.
Buehrle has been as advertised, an innings eater and a real professional. If Josh Johnson is moved, the veteran lefty can assume the role of ace.
The question is whether the team would part with Johnson or Ricky Nolasco.
For the right price, they would certainly consider anything.
On Monday night, Johnson threw perhaps his best game of the season. He struck out nine, and allowed one hit in six scoreless innings. But a small cut near the nail on his right middle finger caused him to be lifted.
Johnson is expected to make his next start. But will it be with the Marlins?
The Rangers, Red Sox, Angels and more were scouting Johnson on Monday. In all, there were about 20 scouts at the game.
Johnson is signed through 2013. Ramirez is under contract through 2014.
This is where it gets interesting. The Marlins may consider moving Johnson and Ramirez, the faces of their franchise since 2006.
It appears the Red Sox aren’t in position to take on a lot of salary, unless they part with Carl Crawford.
Last week, there was a USA Today report that the Marlins and Red Sox discussed Ramirez and Heath Bell for Crawford.
While that story didn’t take form, perhaps a bigger package could create a real blockbuster trade. To move Ramirez, the Marlins could include Johnson or Nolasco.
Crawford will make $20 million in 2013. From 2013-17, he is signed for a total of $102.5 million.
Ramirez is set to make $15.5 million in 2013, and 16 million in 2014. Johnson is under contract for $13.75 million this year and in 2013. Nolasco is set to earn $11.5 million next year.
If the Marlins want to do business with the Angeles, outfielder Peter Bourgos could be part of a deal. The Rangers may step up for Johnson because of needs in their rotation.
Even though the Marlins have made it clear that they are willing to trade, they also have the luxury to only do deals that make sense.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — A week ago, the Marlins opened a six-game road trip with a sense of urgency.
Manager Ozzie Guillen called it a crucial week, one that could sway whether trades could be made before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The trip opened with promise with a 9-5 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. From there, the team fell on hard times. Hanley Ramirez experienced inflammation in his right hand, and he was sidelined.
The state of the team also worsened as they lost the next five, and they are now a season-worst seven-games under .500. At 44-51, they are 11 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East.
Each passing day creates more speculation regarding who will stay or go.
Anbibal Sanchez, a free agent after the season, is a name being mentioned prominently in trade talks. With the Braves reportedly about to acquire Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, Sanchez should generate more attention before July 31.
A recent report had the Tigers scouting Sanchez, but a source said that may not be a fit. Teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Rangers are in the hunt for a starter. One of those teams may be more realistic than Detroit.
Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Marlins were reviewing where they’d stand after their three-game series with the Braves, which starts on Monday at Marlins Park.
The hope was they’d make up ground in the 13-game stretch after the All-Star Break. They’re so far 3-7 in the span.
Omar Infante, who signed a two-year, $8 million extension last September, is another player who has been speculated to be on the move.
If the Marlins do decide to part with Infante, they would free up the remainder of the second baseman’s salary this year plus $4 million for next year.
What would the Marlins do at second base, should Infante be dealt?
It depends what happens in center field. If the team acquires a proven center fielder, Emilio Bonifacio could switch to second base. Or the club could keep Bonifacio in center field, and give Donovan Solano a look at second for the rest of the season.
– Joe Frisaro