The Marlins' quest to upgrade their starting pitching figures to lead all the way up to Thursday's 4 p.m. trade deadline. But just because they want to be buyers doesn't mean the Marlins are willing to be foolish.
Mike Hill, whose phone began ringing at 8:37 a.m. Wednesday with trade offers (less than seven hours after he received his last call Tuesday night), made it clear if an opportunity presents itself to upgrade the rotation the Marlins plan on pouncing on it. They've even "dipped their toes in" on potential one-year rentals.
But one thing Hill said he's made clear to other clubs is "we’re not trying to take off our major league club, not key components."
"We’re trying to add," Hill said Wednesday morning about an hour and half before the Marlins were set to close out their three-game series against the division-leading Nationals at Marlins Park. "But to re-shuffle or rob Peter to pay Paul doesn’t really accomplish what we’re trying to do.”
The Red Sox, shopping left-handed All-Star pitcher Jon Lester, reportedly wanted left fielder Christian Yelich from the Marlins. The Marlins wanted no part of that. So the search for a pitcher continues.
Hill said a rental "is not ideal." But it is something the Marlins haven't ruled out.
"It's something that we've entertained and have dipped our toe in the water," Hill said. "It all depends on the cost to acquire a rental and if it sidetracks what we're trying to do in the long term."
Second base remains an area the Marlins would like to address, but that probably will get tabled to the offseason. With Jordany Valdespin being a solid producer since being called up on July 19 (he came into the day Wednesday hitting .267, 1 HR, 3 RBI) Hill said the Marlins are content with Valdespin splitting the job the rest of the way with Donovan Solano. So upgrading the pitching staff remains the top focus.
"It’s always our pitching and we go as our pitching goes," Hill said. "We made a concerted effort to improve our offense and have been able to put a consistent offensive team on the field and now we go as our pitching goes. The early bullpen questions have settled. Guys have gotten into more consistent roles and performed better. It’s no secret that as we’ve played better, we’ve pitched better. Plain and simple, we pitch, we know we’re giving ourselves a chance every day to win a ballgame.”
Hill said owner Jeffrey Loria remains supportive and connected to every decision the front office makes.
"He's obviously part of the process," Hill said. "We update him on where things are. But he wants to win as badly as anybody. He knows where we're at, and what we're trying to do."
Does Loria want to win badly enough to add payroll? "I would say we're looking at everything," Hill said. "Money deals. Prospects deals. We're looking at everything."
How important is it to make a move to show fans and the team the front office is really going for it?
"I think these guys know we believe in them and believe in the talent in this room," Hill said. "Whether we're able to make a move or not I think they know we have their back and supportive of what they're trying to do. We're going to do our best to try to upgrade, but we're not going to be foolish. We're not going to be short sighted. I think we understand where we're at as an organization but we're also understand where we're trying to go.
"I think that's the balance you strike at this time of year. We'll see what happens these next two days. But there's been a lot going on and we're trying to work through it and seeing if what we're trying to do makes sense not only the near term but the long term."
> Utility man Ed Lucas, back with the team after being sent down to the minors on July 20 so the team could add an extra arm for a road trip to Houston, had a funny line Wednesday about how the Marlins went 9-1 without him.
"It's awesome to watch. I'm happy. But at the same time I'm thinking, 'Man I must be a pretty bad teammate if as soon as I leave they rattle off 9 of 10.' It kind of makes you question yourself a little bit."
> Former Marlins catcher John Baker, 33, pulled off a rare feat for the Cubs in Tuesday night's 16-inning win over the Rockies. He scored the winning run and picked up the victory as a relief pitcher. That's the first time that's happened for the Cubs, who have been around since 1876.
"That's definitely cooler than picking up seven saves in 10 days," said closer Steve Cishek, one of the few pitchers left on the Marlins staff who worked with Baker. "Now, if I could drive in a run and get the win that would be cooler. I think [Burke] Badenhop did that a couple years ago. I'd take that."
> Nationals (57-47): 1. Denard Span CF, 2. Anthony Rendon 3B, 3. Jayson Werth RF, 4. Adam LaRoche 1B, 5. Ian Desmond SS, 6. Bryce Harper LF, 7. Wilson Ramos C, 8. Danny Espinosa 2B, 9. Tanner Roark RHP.
> Marlins (53-53): 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. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 8. Jeff Mathis C, 9. Brad Hand LHP.