Thanks to a franchise-best 6-1 road trip through Atlanta and Houston, the Marlins don't look like they'll be shipping off any pieces to save money at Thursday's trade deadline.
But if there's a chance to upgrade the team -- like adding a starting pitcher -- they're still very much interested in doing that.
"I would say you can take us out of the seller category," Marlins President of Baseball Operations Mike Hill said Monday as the visiting first-place Nationals were taking batting practice. "We're just looking for ways to build on what has been a very positive year for us. We're continuing to try to build, upgrade our talent and make decisions that help us in the short term and the long term."
Did the 6-1 road trip change things?
"I don't think we ever saw ourselves as a seller," Hill continued. "We've always felt like this club can do good things, can win a lot of games. Had [the road trip] gone differently it might have changed your idea of where you're at. But this club is capable of doing those things. Hopefully it doesn't stop with the road trip. Hopefully we come home and keep it going."
Before the road trip, the Marlins (51-53) were receiving plenty of inquires about their bullpen including closer Steve Cishek and left-hander Mike Dunn. But now that they're back home and only seven games back of the Nationals and 5 1/2 out in the National League Wild Card race it appears the front office is no longer listening to those trade scenarios.
But Hill said the team is still very much interested in upgrading their starting pitching with a controllable piece.
"I guess if you would say a rental is [no control] beyond this year I would say anything beyond a rental [is what we're interested in]," Hill explained. "If we think it's an upgrade and depending on the cost to acquire that particular player then we're looking at everything. Which is what most of the clubs are doing at this point -- to see if a deal makes sense for what they're trying to accomplish.
"As you know the starting pitching market is quite difficult a market to be in. I couldn't be happier with the strides Brad Hand and Jacob Turner have made in the rotation. If we're giving them the ball every fifth day then we have the confidence they're going to give us a chance to win every time they step out there. But if we're able to upgrade one of our five starters we'll look to do so."
> Although manager Mike Redmond said Monday second baseman Derek Dietrich told him he could be close to going on a rehab assignment soon, Hill didn't sound as optimistic. Dietrich has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a right wrist sprain.
"He's not swinging," Hill said. "I don't consider that close. I don't think any of [the injured players] you can say will be back to help us."
> Reliever Carter Capps, who has been out since the end of May with an elbow sprain, is expected to begin a throwing program soon but is still a month away from a return.
ICYMI, 6-1 road trips leads to a happy dugout and the occasional wrestling move: http://t.co/kauoKOswaE— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) July 28, 2014
POSTERIZING GONE WRONG
From kicking soccer balls around in the outfield to putting on funny outfits or even the clothes of teammates, the Marlins have had their fare share of pre-game shenanigans this season.
Sunday, pitcher Tom Koehler tried to partake in a little pre-game dunking -- or what the players refer to as "posterizing" -- and things didn't go well. Instead of "posterizing" teammate Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Koehler jumped up, grabbed the roof of the visitors dugout in Houston and whiffed as he tried to wrap his legs around his catcher. The pitcher ended up on his back side and his teammates broke out laughing.
Thankfully, nobody was injured.
"Koehler tried to be sneaky and dunk on Salty when he was walking away and it just turned into a complete mess," closer Steve Cishek said. "He dunked, slipped fell on his backside and made a complete fool of himself basically. They happened to get in on camera."
Joked Saltalamacchia: "That's what happens when you mess with your catcher. Things go wrong."
Koehler was unavailable for comment.
Said Saltalamacchia: "I think he's going to lay low for a little while."
> Nationals (57-45): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Bryce Harper LF, 7. Wilson Ramos C, 8. Danny Espinosa 2B, 9. Jordan Zimmerman RHP.
> Marlins (51-53): 1. Christian Yelich LF, 2. Jordany Valdespin 2B, 3. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 4. Casey McGehee 3B, 5. Garrett Jones 1B, 6. Marcell Ozuna CF, 7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C, 8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 9. Nathan Eovaldi RHP.
The best seven-game road trip in franchise history did more than put the Marlins in position to be buyers instead of sellers before Thursday's trading deadline.
It also turned out to be a nice showcase for closer Steve Cishek, who could be one of the pieces the team decides to move if things go south against the division-leading Nationals at Marlins Park over the next three days.
Cishek, 28, picked up six saves in an eight-day span. That's the best stretch by a Marlins closer ever (Kevin Gregg picked up five saves in six days in 2008) and the second best in the majors this season.
Only the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez has put together a longer and more fruitful run with no more than one day of rest between saves. He picked up nine saves in 11 days from April 18-29. The Brewers played 10 games during the stretch.
Cishek, now 26 of 29 on save opportunities this season, is tied for the eighth most saves in the majors this season. His save percentage (90 percent) ranks 10th among all closers with double digit saves. All that -- and the fact he's under club control through 2017 -- makes him a hot commodity on the open trade market.
The Marlins believe they can get more than what the Padres got from the Angels for Huston Street (four minor league prospects, two ranked in their Top 20 by MLB on their respective franchises) and what the Rangers received from the Tigers for Joakim Soria (reliever Corey Knebel and prospect Jake Thompson).
Of course if the Marlins play well against the Nationals and continue to climb the standings -- they are seven games back in the division and 5.5 back in the wild card race -- this all becomes moot.
Either way, Cishek, making $3.8 million in his first year of arbitration, is set for a pretty nice pay day at the end of this season if he keeps this up.
> The Marlins on Monday recalled outfielder Jake Marisnick (.220, 5 steals in 13 big league games in 2014) from Triple A New Orleans and optioned catcher J.T. Realmuto (.200, 5 RBI in 7 MLB games in 2o14) back down to Double A Jacksonville.