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14 posts from December 2009

December 17, 2009

Marlins Sign Nolasco

Even though he's been outspoken in his multi-year contract demands for Josh Johnson, the Marlins can't say agent Matt Sosnick won't deal with them. On Thursday, another of Sosnick's clients -- right-hander Ricky Nolasco -- avoided arbitration with the Marlins by agreeing to a one-year deal for $3.8 million.

Nolasco got off to a horrendous start last season and was demoted to the minors. But he ended strongly, going 7-2 after the All-Star break and finishing with an overall mark of 13-9 and 5.06 ERA.

The Marlins now have seven arbitration-eligible players remaining: Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez, Dan Uggla, Renyel Pinto, Cody Ross and Jorge Cantu.

NOTE: Travis "Gookie" Dawkins, a shortstop for Triple A New Orleans last season, has received a 50-day suspension by the commissioner's office for violating the league's substance-abuse policy a second time.

For Marlins and Uggla, is it bye-bye Birdies?

  With news that the Orioles have reached agreement with Garrett Atkins on a one-year deal, the Marlins have almost certainly lost a potential trading partner for Dan Uggla. Atkins satisfies Baltimore's desire for the third baseman and right-handed power bat that made Uggla mildly appealing to them, though discussions with the Marlins never advanced beyond a preliminary level. It's possible that the Orioles could stick Atkins at first and take a stab at Uggla. But that seems highly doubtful at this point.

  The San Francisco Giants continue to loom as a possible landing spot for Uggla, and our own Barry Jackson reported yesterday that the clubs exchanged names (right-hander Jonathan Sanchez, minor-league lefty Clayton Tanner and another mid-level minor-league pitcher) at the winter meetings last week. But the Indy meetings ended without a deal and it has been quiet ever since.

  Since other teams aren't exactly pounding down the door for Uggla, I'm starting to think that if the Marlins hope to move him, they'll either have to lower their demands or sweeten their end of the deal. Might they throw in, say, someone like an Andrew Miller in order to grease the trade skids, especially if they are getting a major league pitcher (Sanchez, for example) in return?

   Yet another factor to consider: until the Marlins are certain they won't be on the hook for the approximate $7 million they would have to budget by keeping Uggla, I don't expect them to open their wallets in the free agent market -- at least not to any significant degree -- to plug holes in their bullpen and bench. In other words, forget about Matt Capps -- or any other potential targets in that salary range. Remember, the Marlins have not spent more than $2 million on any free agent since the Carlos Delgado signing in 2005.

December 14, 2009

Marlins Sign Four, Extend Spring Training Invitations

   The Marlins have signed infielders Brian Barden and Donnie Murphy and right-handed relievers Scott Strickland and Matt Peterson to minor-league contracts. All four were invited to spring training.

   Barden played second, third and shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals last season. and hit .233 in 103 at bats.Murphy last appeared in the majors with Oakland in 2008. Peterson saved 37 games for Double A Jacksonville in 2009. Strickland saved 32 games for Triple A Albuquerque (Dodgers) last season. He has made 236 relief appearances in the majors, none since 2005.

December 12, 2009

Marlins Non-Tender Alfredo Amezaga; Paulino Gets 1-year Deal for $1.1 million

(UPDATE: It's official. At 11:35 p.m. the Marlins announced they did not tender a contract to Alfredo Amezaga. They also avoided arbitration with catcher Ronny Paulino by agreeing to a one-year contract for $1.1 million, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. Not sure at this point if the contract includes performance incentives. The other eight arbitration-eligible players were tendered. They are Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez, Cody Ross, Dan Uggla, Jorge Cantu and Renyel Pinto.)

No surprise here. The Marlins did not tender a contract to super utility player Alfredo Amezaga, who now becomes a free agent.

Still no word on the other nine arbitration-eligible players as the 11:59 p.m. deadline approaches.

    Amezaga's agent, Mike Nicotera, said he and his client were notified about 8:45 p.m. by Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill.

    "I think Alfredo told Larry, "I just want to thank you for allowing me to play in the big leagues with you guys,'" Nicotera said.

    Nicotera said the Marlins made it clear that "they have not closed the door" on Amezaga. But he said Amezaga would explore the market.

    Amezaga missed most of last season with a knee injury that required microfracture surgery. Through the arbitration process, Amezaga would have received a slight raise on his 2009 salary of $1.3 million, making him a risk the Marlins were not willing to take. The Marlins might be willing to sign Amezaga at a reduced price.

It's expected the Marlins will tender offers to all of their other arbitration-eligible players, though Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports.com tweeted earlier that the team was undecided about catcher Ronny Paulino.

December 10, 2009

Marlins Take Third Baseman With Rule 5 Pick

  Kind of a surprise that the Marlins took a third baseman with the Rule 5 pick they obtained from the Houston Astros as the player to be named later in the Matt Lindstrom trade. But the Marlins are extremely high on Jorge Jimenez, who can play either infield corner position.Jimenez

  Even though the Marlins have Jorge Cantu poised to play third, with Wes Helms as his backup, the Marlins could shuffle pieces if Jimenez convinces them in spring training that he's worth keeping on the roster. If not, they'll send him back to the Boston Red Sox -- via the Astros -- along with a $25,000 oh-well check.

  But Jimenez is the reason the Marlins traded with Houston in the Lindstrom deal. They wanted to move up in the draft -- from the their own 22nd pick to the Astros' 8th -- to improve their chances of selecting him.

  "It definitely made the trade more attractive," said Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations.

Jimenez, who swings left-handed, hit .289 with 13 home runs and 87 RBI last season at Portland, Boston's Double A affiliate.

"This is a guy whose performance kept moving up as he went through their system," said Jim Fleming, the Marlins' vice president of player development and scouting. "We think we're getting a guy who's on the come."

    Jimenez, a 25-year-old native of Puerto Rico, was chosen by the Red Sox in the 15th round of the 2006 draft out of Porterville (Calif.) College.

    If Jimenez sticks, the Marlins could do a number of things, including moving Cantu back to first. The Marlins could also use Jimenez as a left-handed bat off the bench, though they would prefer to go for someome more experienced for the role left vacated by the departure of Ross Gload.    .

Rule 5 Draft Could Sweeten the Lindstrom Trade for Marlins

If reports are true that the "player to be named later" in the Matt Lindstrom deal is Houston's pick in the Rule 5 draft this morning, Wednesday's trade might not look as baffling ("That's all they got?!") as it does at the moment for the Marlins.

   While the only named players the Marlins received in the trade were a couple of low-level minor leaguers, the club could end up with a bonafide big-leaguer if they've done their homework and are able to locate the proverbial hidden gem. That's because Houston holds the eighth overall pick in this overstock draft, which has yielded such finds in the past as Dan Uggla, Johan Santana and Shane Victorino.

   The Marlins, who have one open spot available on their 40-man roster, own the 22nd pick. Thus, they effectively gain 14 spots as the result of Wednesday's trade. Basically, the Marlins will be choosing from a list of all eligible players not protected on 40-man rosters. But whichever player they choose (actually, they'll tell the Astros who to pick for them) must remain on their active major league roster throughout the coming season. Otherwise, he must be returned to his original club, along with $25,000.

    The Marlins obtained Uggla through the Rule 5 draft in 2005. But they've also fired a few blanks: lhp Michael Megrew (also selected in '05), rhp Carlos Guevara (2007), and lhp Zach Kroenke (last year). The Marlins ended up returning each of those three players to their former clubs. Interestingly, Kroenke -- who is in the Yankees system -- is available again this year.

    Stay tuned. All the fun begins at 9 a.m.  

December 09, 2009

Lindstrom Dealt to Astros for Two Minor Leaguers and PTBNL

    It's official. The Marlins have traded reliever Matt Lindstrom to the Houston Astros for a pair of minor-leaguers and a player to be named later.

    Houston is giving up right-hander Robert Bono and shortstop Luis Bryan.

    Bono spent last season at Single A Lexington (Ky.), going 10-8 in 25 starts with a 3.20 ERA. He was Houston's 11th-round draft pick in 2007. Bryan, 19, was with Houston's Gulf Coast League team, hitting .340 in 105 at bats.

    Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, said the players are "both guys with upsides.

   The Marlins roster now stands at 39 players, which allows them to make a pick in Thursday's Rule 5 draft.


Matt Lindstrom The First Fish to Go?

The Marlins are on the cusp of trading Matt Lindstrom to the Houston Astros, and both teams are reportedly exchanging medical data in order to complete the deal. The Astros were in on the Rafael Soriano sweepstakes, but have apparently turned their attention to Lindstrom, whom the Marlins have been dangling.

  At least 10 teams expressed interest in Lindstrom, who suffered through a disappointing season after being tabbed as the team's closer. He ended up losing that role to Leo Nunez and, with his salary set to increase to the $1.5 million neighborhood through arbitration, became expendable for the Marlins.

    The best guess is the Marlins will receive a mid-level prospect in return.

  The Marlins are still trying to work out deals for Dan Uggla and Renyel Pinto.

December 08, 2009

Uggla, Gload -- UPDATED

Update: The Marlins are now in need of a left-handed hitter off the bench (Eric Hinske, anyone?). The Phillies signed Ross Gload late Tuesday. I'm hearing -- unofficially -- the deal was for two years, $2.6 million, which trumps the two years, $1.9 million the Marlins were offering.

It's all quiet this morning on the Uggla front. Word here is that interested teams might be waiting to see if the Marlins non-tender Uggla -- Saturday is the deadline -- but that's not happening. In other words, the Uggla situation could drag on after the winter meetings.

    Sounds like the Giants aren't all that enthused with Dan Uggla, which could potentially eliminate one significant trade partner from what is a short list. According to a report out of San Fran, the Giants are said to be less than enamored with Uggla's defensive skills, not to mention the $7 million to $8 million he'll command in arbitration.

    Yet another report has the Marlins in competition with the Phillies and Braves for Ross Gload. All three are prepared to offer Gload a two-year deal.


Marlins: Winter Meetings Update

    INDIANAPOLIS – It could be days – even hours – before Dan Uggla, Matt Lindstrom and Renyel Pinto are Marlins no more. Josh Johnson, on the other hand, could still be looking at years, though that prospect remains slim.

Trade talks for Uggla, Lindstrom and Pinto continued on Tuesday, day two of the winter meetings.

And it was revealed that the Marlins reestablished contact with Johnson’s agent, Matt Sosnick, after negotiations over a long-term contract broke down two weeks ago.

“We’re open to it,” Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, told reporters about a potential long-term deal involving Johnson. “I don’t know what Matt and J.J. are thinking, but we’re open to it. We certainly haven’t the closed the door on anything.”

However, Sosnick wasn't sounding optimistic when he said the Marlins only mentioned a one-year contract for the upcoming 2010 season when they spoke with him last. And Sosnick has said if the club has any intention of keeping Johnson long-term, he’ll accept nothing less than a four-year deal.

“We’re sort of dancing to their beat,” Sosnick said. “But we’re just talking about a one-year deal. There hasn’t been any talk about a multi-year deal.”

Johnson remains in club control the next two seasons, after which he’ll be eligible for free agency.

One media outlet reported on Tuesday that the Texas Rangers had offered the Marlins two of their top prospects, first baseman Justin Smoak and pitcher Neftali Feliz, in exchange for Johnson. But there are strong indications that the Marlins are not interested in dealing any of their starters.

Uggla, Lindstrom and Pinto, on the other hand, are a different story.

The Marlins have spoken to a handful of teams about Uggla, their All-Star second baseman. Lindstrom, a hard-throwing reliever, has generated even more interest.

The San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox are among the teams that have expressed interest in Uggla.