There should be no trouble finding a good seat at Roger Dean Stadium most days when the Marlins play there this spring. But the Marlins' clubhouse looks like it'll be a tight squeeze. The Marlins announced a spring roster totaling 71 players.
I'm not sure if that's a club record of some sort. But I can't remember the number ever being that large. In addition to those on the 40-man roster, the Marlins have invited 31 others that include 17 players signed to minor league contracts and 14 organizational players.
Making up the latter group: right-handed pitchers Michael Brady and Jose Fernandez; left-handed pitchers Adam Conley, Grant Dayton, Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney and Raudel Lazo; catchers Wilfredo Giminez, Jake Jefferies and Jacob Realmuto; infielders Danny Black and Derek Dietrich; and outfielders Jake Marisnick and Christian Yelich.
The list of players signed to minor league deals includes the following: right-handed pitchers Jonathan Albaladejo, John Maine, Doug Mathis, Chad Qualls, Kevin Slowey, Jordan Smith, Mitch Talbot and Michael Wuertz; left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips; catcher Craig Tatum; infielders Matt Downs, Nick Green, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Ed Lucas and Chris Valaika; and outfielders Jordan Brown and Austin Kearns.
Veteran reliever Chad Qualls has agreed to terms with the Marlins on a minor league deal with invitation to spring training, two sources have confirmed. The 34-year-old right-hander has made 597 relief appearances over the course of his 9-year career, going 40-35 with a 3.92 ERA.
Qualls is a workhorse, making at least 70 relief appearances in six of his nine MLB seasons. Last year, Qualls appeared in 60 games with the Phillies, Yankees and Pirates in which he had a cumulative ERA of 5.33.
Qualls has also pitched for the Astros, Diamondbacks, Rays and Padres.
While the Marlins have made Pat White an offer to try his hand at minor league baseball, the former Dolphins quarterback and one of his associates are sending out strong signals that baseball is only a backup option if he can't work his way back into football.
"I have unfinished business left on the football field," White told 640 AM host Orlando Alzugaray.
Said White's financial advisor, Richard Griffin II: "His first priority is football."
White, who turns 27 next month, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Angels in 2004 and picked up by the Kansas City Royals organization after the Dolphins released him in 2010. But the left-handed hitting outfielder never made it out of the fall instructional league for the Royals and has not played in a sanctioned game since high school when Baseball America named him a second-team All-American.
That hasn't diminished White's desire to get back on the baseball diamond, and the Marlins are willing to give him a chance, at least at the minor league level. But Griffin said White is also considering a two-year contract offer from the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League and has spoken to representatives for at least eight NFL teams. Griffin also said that White intends to spend next month -- when spring training starts up in Jupiter -- working with a quarterbacks coach in San Diego.
"Things are very premature as to whether he'll report to spring training," Griffin said. "More than likely, Pat will probably spend next month in San Diego. He's definitely looking to get back into the NFL. I don't want to step on the Marlins' toes, but things are really on hold right now."
The Marlins have reeled in two more players hoping to resurrect their big league careers in pitchers Kevin Slowey and Mitch Talbot. The two right-handers -- neither of whom has pitched in the majors since 2011 -- signed minor league deals with invites to spring training.
Slowey, 28, made 90 starts for the Twins over five seasons (2007-11), going 39-29 with a 4.66 ERA. But he was limited to only eight starts in the minors last year due to a stress fracture in his rib cage. The former second-round pick was once a mainstay of the Twins rotation, posting at least 10 wins in each of three straight seasons from 2008-10.
Slowey and R.A. Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last January.
Talbot, 29, owns a career mark of 12-19 with 5.30 ERA in three seasons with the Rays and Indians. He made 28 starts for Cleveland in 2010, going 10-13 with a 4.41 ERA. He spent last season pitching in Korea.
According to a published newspaper report, the 2015 All-Star game will be awarded to Cincinnati and Great American Ballpark, as the Marlins and their new ballpark will have to wait for another odd-numbered year to serve as host.
Marlins president David Samson said last year that the team would apply to have the 2015 All-Star Game played at Marlins Park. "We're fully prepared and excited to host it" Samson told MLB.com in March of last year, just before the Marlins opened their new ballpark.
But the Marlins might have fallen out of favor with the Commissioner's office and lost all leverage to secure the All-Star Game when they blew up the roster and slashed payroll after the season, enraging the local fan base in the process.
Citi Field in New York is set to host this year's All-Star Game, with Target Field in Minneapolis on tap for 2014. The ASG alternates between N.L. and A.L. ballparks.
Cincinnati last hosted the All-Star Game in 1988 at Riverfront Stadium. The Marlins, who have been around since 1993, have never hosted one. MLB had selected the Marlins to host the 2000 All-Star Game at Sun Life Stadum but took it away from them in 1998 due to uncertainty over the future of the franchise after the '97 World Series team was dismantled.
Utility player Matt Downs has agreed to terms with the Marlins on a minor league deal and invitation to spring training.
The versatile 28-year-old spent last season with Houston, where he hit .202 while playing six different positions: all four infield spots and the two corner outfield positions. Downs had his best season in 2011 when he hit .276 with 10 home runs in 199 at bats for the Astros.
For his career, Downs is a .230 hitter in four seasons with the Giants and Astros.
Imagine Jose Reyes' shock when, while on vacation in Dubai following the season, he received text messages telling him that he had been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I went to Dubai on vacation with my wife,” Reyes said Thursday in Toronto in what were his first public comments about the Nov. 19 deal. “One day I got up at 6 in the morning and I see all these text messages saying ‘You got traded.’ That kind of surprised me a little bit.”
Say what again? Despite not having no-trade protection built into his contract, Reyes said he was assured by none other than Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria that he wouldn't be going anywhere.
"Five days before I got traded I was with the owner of the Miami Marlins and he said he was never going to trade me," Reyes said.
Hmm. "Never" turned into exactly 11 months for Reyes, who signed a heavily backloaded six-year deal in December, 2011, and was gone in the November salary dump. Loria approved the 12-player deal, one that included another December signee, Mark Buehrle.
Remember, without naming names, Buehrle said he was "lied to on multiple occasions" by the Marlins. According to sources, Loria also told Buehrle that he wouldn't be traded.
Reyes doesn't seem too disappointed.
"It's a better opportunity with the Blue Jays," Reyes said. "It's all about winning and the team we're going to put on the field is going to be good."
-- In addition to Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek, the Marlins will also be represented by one other player in the World Baseball Classic. Pitcher Henderson Alvarez, who was obtained in the Toronto trade, is on Venezuela's provisional roster for the March tournament.
-- Today marks the deadline for the Marlins and reliever Ryan Webb to reach agreement on his 2013 salary or have the decision made for them by a panel of arbitrators in February. Webb, the Marlins' only arbitration player, stands to receive about $1 million in what is his first year of eligiblity. Given that the Marlins have lost their past four cases in front of arbitrators, it might behoove them to settle now with Webb. [UPDATE 1 P.M.: The Marlins avoided arbitration with Webb, agreeing to a 1-year deal worth $975,000, plus an additional $10,000 bonus if he appears in at least 67 games]
Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek have been named to Team USA's provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic this spring.
But, in somewhat of a stunner, so was former Marlins closer Heath Bell.
"I'm so pumped to be part of this team and to be able to have this experience," said Cishek, who was notified on Monday that he was being selected for the 27-player provisional roster. "It gave me goosebumps to see that."
Stanton has known for quite a while that he would be chosen. But Cishek, who will close for the Marlins this coming season, had no inkling until he received a text message on Monday and phone call from Team USA manager Joe Torre on Tuesday asking if he was willing to participate.
Cishek needed no convincing.
"It's definitely an honor," Cishek said. "It's a dream come true."
Cishek said that when he learned that Bell had also been chosen, he quickly fired off a text message congratulating his former teammate, who was traded to Arizona following a miserable season with Miami.
"He was chanting back, 'USA, USA,'" Cishek said.
USA Baseball's 2013 World Baseball Classic Provisional Roster
Jeremy Affeldt - San Francisco Giants - LHP
J.P. Arencibia - Toronto Blue Jays - C
Heath Bell - Arizona Diamondbacks - RHP
Willie Bloomquist - Arizona Diamondbacks - UTL
Mitchell Boggs - St. Louis Cardinals - RHP
Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers - OF
Steve Cishek - Miami Marlins - RHP
Tim Collins - Kansas City Royals - LHP
R.A. Dickey - Toronto Blue Jays - RHP
Luke Gregerson - San Diego Padres - RHP
Derek Holland - Texas Rangers - LHP
Adam Jones - Baltimore Orioles - OF
Craig Kimbrel - Atlanta Braves - RHP
Jonathan Lucroy - Milwaukee Brewers - C
Joe Mauer - Minnesota Twins - C
Kris Medlen - Atlanta Braves - RHP
Chris Perez - Cleveland Indians - RHP
Glen Perkins - Minnesota Twins - LHP
Vinnie Pestano - Cleveland Indians - RHP
Brandon Phillips - Cincinnati Reds - IF
Jimmy Rollins - Philadelphia Phillies - IF
Giancarlo Stanton - Miami Marlins - OF
Mark Teixeira - New York Yankees - IF
Shane Victorino - Boston Red Sox - OF
Ryan Vogelsong - San Francisco Giants - RHP
David Wright - New York Mets - IF
Ben Zobrist - Tampa Bay Rays - UTL
The Marlins have signed right-handed reliever Michael Wuertz, according to his agent, Beverly HIll Sports Council, and utility infielder Nick Green to minor league deals with invitations to spring training.
Wuertz made more than 400 relief appearances over eight seasons with the Cubs and A's. But the oft-injured reliever did not pitch at all last season. He'll be given a shot in spring training to make the Opening Day roster.
The 34-year-old pitcher owns a career mark of 21-11 with a 3.71 ERA while striking out 444 in 414 innings. He enjoyed his best season in 2009 with Oakland when he made 74 appearances, struck out 102 in 78 2/3 innings, and finished with a WHIP of 0.953.
Green, who spent a bit of time last season with the Marlins before sustaining a wrist injury that ended his season, will be in contention for a spot on the bench as a backup infielder.
In other news, reliever Ryan Webb filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday along with 132 other plays. Webb is expected to command a salary in the neighborhood of $1 million.
There's no more FanFest. But the Marlins are hosting the newly named "MetroPCS Winter Warm Up" at Marlins Park on Feb. 9 when fans can purchase single-game seats to the 2013 season for the first time.
The event, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free and open to the public.
Marlins players -- and there are quite a few new ones -- will be available for autographs, and Archbishop McCarthy will face Gulliver Academy in an 11 a.m. contest on the field.
Meanwhile, spring training tickets go on sale Saturday. For more information, click here.