The tools and the talent of Yoenis Cespedes are not in dispute.
Where there are reservations over the Cuban-born outfielder is his cost and readiness to play immediately in the big leagues.
According to a league source familiar with his status, the asking price for Cespedes could be double that of Aroldis Chapman, the Cuban pitcher with the Reds.
In January of 2010, Chapman signed a six-year deal worth $30.25 million. Cespedes, the source said, could be seeking more than double Chapman’s salary over eight years. Technically, no negotiations can take place until after he is declared a free agent.
The Marlins recently traveled to the Dominican Republic to attend a private workout for Cespedes, the 26-year-old who defected from Cuba in the summer. The Red Sox, Cubs and Yankees are among the teams with interest.
The Marlins see Cespedes as a center fielder, while Boston is looking at him in right field.
There also is uncertainty on when Cespedes will become a free agent. Insiders say it could be two more weeks or two more months.
Right now, he is in the process of gaining residency in the Dominican Republic. Once that happens, it shouldn’t take long for him to be declared an MLB free agent. It’s a matter of filing paper work.
The longer Cespedes waits to sign with a club, the more it hinders his ability to be game ready for the 2012 opener.
He hasn’t played competitive baseball since he left Cuba.
If he can be signed before mid-December, he could play Winter League ball, which would help him be prepared to compete for an Opening Day roster spot in Spring Training.
– Joe Frisaro
In so many ways, A’s lefty Gio Gonzalez is a fit for the Miami Marlins.
The team is in the market for left-handed starting pitching, and the 26-year-old Gonzalez is coming off an All-Star season where he won 16 games.
Being from Hialeah, Gonzalez has a hometown connection to the Marlins. The former Miami Monsignor Pace High School standout also is affordable, as he projects to make about $3.6 million in 2012, his first year eligible for arbitration. In ’11, the lefty earned $420,000.
What is tricky for the Marlins is actually acquiring Gonzalez.
A’s general manager Billy Beane understands he has a viable trade commodity, and the asking price is steep for Gonzalez.
Rumblings from those connected to the Marlins is Miami had at least one inquiry conversation with the A’s regarding Gonzalez. It took place before this week’s General Managers Meetings in Milwaukee.
The belief is the Marlins said no when the A’s were asking for Logan Morrison, Ricky Nolasco and two top prospects for Gonzalez. The Minor Leaguers the A’s were said to be coveting were outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, two promising talents who were part of low Class A Greensboro’s championship team.
Trading for established starting pitcher certainly is costly in terms of parting with talent.
That’s one reason why the Marlins are aggressively pursuing free agent Mark Buehrle, who visited Miami last week.
According to reports from the GM Meetings, the Marlins met again with Buehrle’s agent, Jeff Berry, on Tuesday in Milwaukee.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — Omar Infante has played a Gold Glove-caliber second base for the Marlins. But will the veteran complete the season with the club?
In recent weeks, Marlins’ scouts have floated Infante’s name out to other teams, according to a National League source.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported the Braves have had discussions with the Marlins for Infante, who will be a free agent after the year.
A source on Sunday confirmed a deal with Atlanta is possible before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET non-waiver trade deadline. As of late Sunday morning, a second source added that a number of teams called regarding Infante, but nothing was close.
The Marlins acquired Infante from the Braves as part of the Dan Uggla trade last November.
Along with weighing trade options for Infante, the Marlins also have been considering whether to sign the veteran for 2012 and perhaps beyond because he has been so good defensively.
If the Marlins do move Infante, Emilio Bonifacio — who has been at third base — is the likely candidate to play second base.
The Marlins also are considering the future of Chris Coghlan, who recently hyper-extended his right elbow while on rehab assignment. Coghlan opened the season as the starting center fielder, but he has dealt with left knee and right shoulder issues. He has been on the disabled list since June.
A converted infielder, Coghlan has played second and third base in the Minor Leagues. In the big leagues, Coghlan projects more to play third base than second.
– Joe Frisaro
ATLANTA — In two days, the MLB non-waiver trade deadline will arrive. When it passes, the Marlins are not expected to have made any significant moves.
For a while, the team has been leaning towards keeping its core players, including closer Leo Nunez and lefty reliever Randy Choate.
Even National League rivals are not anticipating the Marlins being active at the trade deadline. In fact, one general manager specifically said so.
Doug Melvin, the Brewers executive vice president and general manager, told reporters in Milwaukee the Marlins are not looking to deal. The Brewers inquired about Choate, who is under contract through 2012. Florida has no intention to deal Choate at this point.
“If a club has somebody to replace the guy, he’s available,” Melvin said. “But if you’re going to trade a guy, you have to have somebody to replace him. If you have a young kid in the waiting, that’s one thing. But, if you don’t have anyone to replace him, it’s hard to give up a guy.
“Florida, for example … They’re not anticipating moving anybody.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Marlins’ three-time All-Star Hanley Ramirez is not on the trading block, but the 27-year-old has frustrated a prominent member of the organization.
Jeff Conine, a team special assistant, said he would be open to dealing Ramirez.
During a radio interview on “The Dan LeBatard Show on 790 The Ticket,” Conine said he was frustrated “On a nightly basis” with how Ramirez plays the game.
“I think that obviously Hanley is a phenomenal talent,” Conine said. “But as a guy that … I’m probably jealous too because I didn’t have that kind of talent, but I had to work extremely hard on a nightly basis to put my talent on the field. I think that there are some nights when he doesn’t work as hard as he should.”
Asked if he would trade Ramirez, Conine said: “If it were up to me, probably.”
Conine, known as Mr. Marlin, doesn’t dispute Ramirez’s overall talent.
“Maybe that’s part of the problem, but you know he is no doubt one of the top talents in baseball, and you hope at some point he would get it and become a leader in the clubhouse like he can be on the field,” Conine said.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Trade speculation is increasing with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching.
Sitting in last place in the NL East, the Marlins are a team being talked about as being involved in major moves. On Friday, manager Jack McKeon echoed what Florida owner Jeffrey Loria said last week when the club was in Chicago. The team isn’t expected to make significant deals.
“On this particular club, I don’t see any guys getting traded,” McKeon said. “Something could happen, but I don’t see it. That’s not my department.”
The player who is receiving the most trade talk is closer Leo Nunez.
At least 3-6 teams are scouting Nunez on a daily basis.
“I don’t think anyone of our guys should have concerns about getting traded,” McKeon said. “The names you see bandied around are maybe the guys who are going good. Probably, the only name I’ve seen is Nunez. I don’t think it bothers him. This is a business. They have no choice if the club wants to trade them.”
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — The Marlins have made it clear that they are seeking veteran experience at third base.
A player the club is looking at is Brandon Inge of the Tigers. Now that Detroit has acquired Wilson Betemit, Inge has become expendable. While Inge is having a down year, hitting .177 with one homer and 17 RBIs, he has been with the Tigers since 2001.
He has started 63 games at third base for the Tigers this year, and appeared in 69 games total at the position.
The 31-year-old is making $5.5 million this year. He also is under contract for $5.5 million in 2012 and has a club option for 2013 at $6 million, with a $500,000 buyout.
The Tigers are seeking pitching help, and closer Leo Nunez is drawing interest from a number of teams.
– Joe Frisaro
MIAMI — Boosted by their July hot streak, the Marlins are closing in on reaching .500. In about a week, the organization will have a better feel if they are realistically in playoff contention or not. Either way, the organization is prepared to stay the course with what they have as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Barring an offer that is too tempting to pass up, the club is leaning towards retaining what they have as they try to build momentum in the second half. If they can add a third baseman or pitcher, they will consider it. But not at the expense of a core player. Ricky Nolasco has been mentioned in rumors. But according to multiple sources, Nolasco is not on the market.
A reliever who has been speculated to be available is Randy Choate. Signed through 2012, the Marlins have little interest in moving their left-handed relief specialist. In the NL East, there are so many quality left-handed hitters the Marlins like to match Choate up against. So even if they are out of contention, it is doubtful he will be moved. And he would only be dealt for an attractive offer.
A year from now, however, if the Marlins are out of contention, then they may more realistically try to move Choate. In the meantime, the Marlins see Choate as a key part of their bullpen for the rest of this year and next year, when the franchise moves into their new ballpark.
– Joe Frisaro
CHICAGO — Don’t consider Marlins’ sellers just yet. Actually, they may not be for the rest of the season.
With 69 games remaining, team owner Jeffrey Loria has not lost hope that his youthful club can still make a playoff push.
On Friday afternoon, Loria spoke with reporters and he said not to sell the Marlins’ short.
Loria added that the team is in the market for an experienced third baseman as well as more starting pitching. Now, those spots may not be immediately addressed, or at least before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Marlins are looking towards building a foundation as they move into their new ballpark, which opens in 2012. So the team is monitoring the market now and expects to continue to do so in the offseason.
Prospect Matt Dominguez is still an option to play third, but until he is ready, the team is exploring all options. They would prefer to add a veteran.
As for starting pitchers, there has been speculation that the club would listen on offers for Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez. The team has little interest in moving either one.
– Joe Frisaro