NASHVILLE -- Rule 5 draft picks are long shots to begin with. But if the Marlins' selection of outfielder Alfredo Silverio pans out, it'll be one of the comeback stories of the year.
Silverio, a 25-year-old product of the Dominican Republic and Dodgers farm system, was seriously injured in an auto accident last January and did not play at all in 2012. Silverio suffered back, shoulder, elbow and neck injuries and dealt with concussion symptoms weeks after the accident. Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Silverio also required Tommy John surgery due to the accident.
But Silverio had a breakout year at Double A Chattanooga in 2011 and the Marlins felt he was worth the gamble in the Rule 5, selecting him with the sixth overall pick. Silverio hit .306 with 16 home runs and 85 RBI for the Dodgers' Double A farm club in '11 and also hit a home run in that year's Futures Game.
"The outfielder is an interesting case in that he had a big year in 2011 in Double A and was (then) in a very bad car accident," Beinfest said. "He was really hurt, banged up, missed the whole year. But we thought based on what we saw in 2011 and based on whatever information that we could get, that it was a reasonable risk to bring him in. We really like him in center field. If he's not completely healthy, we understand that as well."
Beinfest said the team envisions Silverio as a center fielder. But, due to his recovery from Tommy John surgery, he won't resume throwing until next month. The Marlins would likely start him out on the disabled list, and it could be mid-season before he is ready to play.
Under Rule 5 rules, the Marlins are paying the Dodgers $50,000 to take Silverio. If Silverio doesn't remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season once activated, he would be returned to the Dodgers and the Marlins would receive back half of the money.
"We anticipate he may not be ready to go in spring training," Beinfest said. "We know that up front. We may have to carry him on the DL for a while. But we want to take a look at this kid. We think there's a lot of upside. And he performed at 23, he was awesome in Double A."
The Marlins made one other selection in Thursday's draft, taking left-handed pitcher Braulio Lara with their second pick. Lara, 23, went 6-10 with a 5.71 ERA last season at Charlotte, the High-A affiliate of the Rays. Beinfest said Lara would be considered for a bullpen role.
"Big arm, throws strikes," Beinfest said. "We think we may have something. You take a chance on a lefty. The one thing on him, he only pitched into High A, so it could be a little bit of a reach, but we think it's a good opportunity. We'll take a look."
Lara features a high-90s fastball, slider and change.
The Rule 5 Draft was the last official order of business at the Winter Meetings but the Marlins aren't done doing business. They're still on the hunt for a third baseman.
"We have some offers out (to free agents)," Beinfest said. "And we have a couple of trade ideas. We would like to do it sooner rather than later. We'd like to at least have that comfort level that we have some competition over there."
The Marlins acquired outfielder Alfredo Silverio from the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitcher Braulio Lara from the Tampa Bay Rays and pitcher Tyler Kehrer from the Los Angeles Angels in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.
Silverio, 25, missed the entire 2012 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He posted a .306 average (163x533) with 90 runs scored, 42 doubles, 18 triples, 16 home runs and 85 RBI in 132 games with double-A Chattanooga in 2011, earning Southern League All-Star honors. Silverio was signed by the Dodgers in 2003 as a non-drafted free agent and has compiled a career average of .287 with 372 runs scored, 147 doubles, 45 triples, 65 home runs and 358 RBI in 654 games.
Lara, 23, was 6-10 with a 5.71 ERA (112.0 IP/71 ER) in 25 games, including 21 starts, with single-A Charlotte in the Tampa Bay Rays system. In 93 career minor league games, the Bani, Dominican Republic native has gone 24-30 with a 4.41 ERA (387.2/190).
Kehrer, 24, went 2-3 with a 5.82 ERA (38.2 IP/25 ER) in 33 games for Inland Empire last season. In 109 career appearances, the 2009 Compensation round A pick of the Los Angeles Angels has gone 13-12 with a 4.72 ERA (257.1/135).
NASHVILLE -- Yunel Escobar, we hardly knew ye.
The Marlins traded the shortstop to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league middle infielder Derek Dietrich not long after obtaining him in their 12-player trade with Toronto.
Dietrich, who was listed by Baseball America as the Rays' ninth-best prospect, is a former second-round pick who hit .271 last season at Double A. The 23-year-old product of Georgia Tech has played both second base and shortstop, and can also play third.
The Marlins, who are set at shortstop with Escobar's former Toronto teammate -- Adeiny Hechavarria -- have been shopping Escobar for weeks. But they made up their minds to trade him when Escobar waffled on his desire to play third base, the position the Marlins intended for him to play.
"We met with Yunel 10 days ago and he said he was comfortable playing third base," said Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. "Recently he came back to us and said he was not comfortable playing third base. So we were not comfortable moving forward with him."
Escobar is due to make $5 million next season. Beinfest said the Marlins intend to take that money and re-invest it in a player -- or players -- on the major league roster. One obvious area of need is third base. The Marlins are considering free agents Mark Reynolds and Ian Stewart as possibilities. Beinfest said they will also explore trades for a third baseman.
The Marlins are also continuing to explore center field options.
NASHVILLE -- The Marlins are continuing to talk with several teams about Yunel Escobar and an agreement could be reached tonight. One major league source said the Tampa Bay Rays appear to be the frontrunner for the infielder, but the A's, Yankees and Cardinals are also reportedly involved.
In a story published Tuesday by Nuevo Herald, Escobar said he's ready to move on from the Marlins, who obtained the shortstop in their 12-player trade with Toronto last month.
Said Escobar: "I came here with a lot of excitement to play in front of Miami’s Latin fans, especially the Cuban ones, but in these moments I think the best for my career is to go somewhere else where I’m appreciated more. I think I have a lot to offer as a ballplayer, but you need to be wanted. I’m not feeling that here.”
If the Marlins are successful in trading Escobar, they're expected to take his $5 million salary for next season and re-invest it back into the major league roster. Third base is one obvious area that would need addressing, and free agents Mark Reynolds and Ian Stewart are considered "possibilities," a source said. The Marlins also have interest in Mark DeRosa.
Ricky Nolasco probably isn't going anywhere, even though his agent has said he wants out of Miami. According to one source with knowledge of the situation, the Marlins don't want to trade Nolasco because they need his $11.5 million salary next season to prop up payroll. Nolasco stands to be the highest-paid Marlin by far.
There's a better chance that he would be dealt at the July 31 trading deadline.
Larry Beinfest, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, said he "really have nothing to say" when asked for his reaction about agent Matt Sosnick's comments.
"We definitely did see them," Beinfest said. "We read them, and that's it."
NASHVILLE -- While the Marlins have spoken to Yunel Escobar about switching positions, it now appears almost certain that he'll be switching teams, instead.
A source said Monday that Escobar, whom the Marlins obtained in their 12-player blockbuster with Toronto, could be "on the move" again. The Marlins are in serious trade discussions with at least two teams for the infielder, the source said, and a deal could be completed as early as tonight.
One of the teams that could be interested: Oakland. If the A's are unable to re-sign Stephen Drew, Escobar could be a fallback option for them. Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports reported that the Tampa Bay Rays are one of the teams interested in Escobar.
The Marlins have spoken to Escobar about moving from shortstop to third base, and Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters last week that the player was "good with it." The Marlins intend to play Adeiny Hechavarria -- also obtained in the Toronto trade -- at short, making Escobar expendable.
Meanwhile, Matt Sosnick, the agent for Ricky Nolasco, confirmed an ESPN report that the pitcher wants out of Miami.
Nolasco, whose $11 million salary next season would make him the highest-paid player on the Marlins, is entering the final year of his contract. Sosnick would not say whether Nolasco has requested a trade.
As for Giancarlo Stanton, who has previously expressed his disfavor with the team's roster tear down, Beinfest told reporters earlier tonight that he has spoken with the slugger's agent, Joel Wolfe, but refused to specify what was said.
Asked directly if Stanton has requested a trade via his agent, Beinfest replied: "I'll keep those conversations private. Not going to go into any conversations I've had with Joel. I've not talked to (Stanton). I'm not going to talk about anything we've talked about with Joel, out of respect to (Stanton) and just being professional."
Asked if he was concerned about Stanton, Beinfest replied: "I think you have to have some concern. Is it grave concern? I think (Stanton's) a professional. He's a great kid He's going to come play. We all believe that you get on the field, you get with your new teammates. You get back into a baseball environment, maybe out of the media pecking at you. Hopefuly he'll be a lot more comfortable with what's going on. I understand the disappointment and questions about the dirctioon of the team. I think those are understandable and we santicipated some of that. He's always behaved in that manner since day one."
Beinfest said Stanton is being considered to play in the World Baseball Classic next spring.