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Reports: Marlins Close to 3-Year Deal With Ricky Nolasco

     So much for any thoughts of trading Ricky Nolasco. The Marlins are on the verge of signing their No. 2 starter to a 3-year deal worth about $27 million, according to several media reports.

      MLB.com was the first to report that the two sides were closing in on an extension that would buy out two years of arbitration and Nolasco's first year of free agency. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel later reported that the sides had reached an agreement in principle on a $26.5 million deal.

       In other words, the Marlins and Nolasco essentially split the difference on their proposals, which were reported earlier in the day Sunday by the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. Jackson wrote that Nolasco wanted $30 million over three years while the Marlins countered with $24 million over the same period.

       Though negotiations had recently stalled, Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, has long said -- as far back as the regular season -- that he was optimistic about working out a deal for the right-hander. That didn't stop the Marlins from testing the waters on Nolasco, though. During the winter meetings earlier this month, the team was gauging interest in the pitcher.

        Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he intended to slot Nolasco into the No. 2 spot in the rotation, behind Josh Johnson and in front of Javier Vazquez. Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad will fill out the 5-man rotation.

        The agreement is expected to be announced this week after Nolasco has completed a physical. With Nolasco out of the way, the Marlins have four remaining arbitration-eligible players to deal with: Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, Edward Mujica and Anibal Sanchez.

         Nolasco will become the third player this offseason to work out a multi-year agreement with the Marlins, joining catcher John Buck (3 years, $18 million) and left-handed reliever Randy Choate (2 yeras, $2.5 million).      

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