December 11, 2014

Giancarlo Stanton "thrilled" with trade; Marlins hoping Haren doesn't retire

SAN DIEGO -- Giancarlo Stanton structured his 13-year, $325 contract in such a way so that the Marlins could have money to build around him now. On Wednesday, the Marlins began that process by acquiring Dee Gordon and Dan Haren from the Dodgers.

Stanton's reaction?

"He was thrilled," said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who texted back and forth with the slugger after the trade was consummated. "I let him know what we did -- and a couple of the other guys, too."

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The Marlins are hoping Haren doesn't retire and instead joins their rotation. Haren told ESPN.com last month that he would prefer to retire rather than be traded to a team outside of southern California, where he is from.

Haren issued a statement Wednesday that read: "I have been notified of the trade to Miami. My strong desire to remain in southern California has been well-documented. I will have to evaluate my options carefully before making any decisions."

Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill, as well as Loria, said it was their hope Haren would play out the final year of his contract in Miami.

"I have spoken to Dan Haren," Hill said. "We just told him we are excited to have him as a Miami Marlin. I talked to him about the talent we assembled down in Miami, and how we thought he'd be a great fit with what we're trying to do. He said he needed to talk to his family, and he would get back to us."

Said Loria: "We hope he's going to play. We expect he's going to play. He'd be very helpful in that rotation, especially with that experience."

As part of the deal, the Dodgers are paying the Marlins the equivalent of Haren's ($10 million) and Gordon's (projected $2.5 million) salaries for 2015. The Marlins will receive that money whether or not Haren retires.

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The Marlins can't wait to add Gordon to the top of the lineup.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Loria said of Gordon, who led the majors with 64 steals last season. "We had that in '03 (with Juan Pierre leading off). It was great to watch."

Said Hill:"It allows us to move (Christian) Yelich deper into the lineup, in front of Stanton. I think it'll put a lot of pressure on opposing teams and allow us to score more runs.

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The Marlins aren't done upgrading. They are expected one, and possibly two, more deals on Thursday on the final day of the Winter Meetings. They are believed to be closing in on a deal with Colorado for first baseman Justin Morneau. They're also looking to add another starting pitcher.

December 10, 2014

Miami Marlins land Dee Gordon, Dan Haren in trade with Dodgers

SAN DIEGO -- The Marlins acquired a speedy leadoff man and -- maybe or maybe not -- a starting pitcher on Wednesday when they completed a deal with the Dodgers for Dee Gordon and Dan Haren.

In return, the Marlins sent pitching prospect Andrew Heaney and three other players -- reliever Chris Hatcher, infielder Kike Hernandez and minor league catcher Austin Barnes -- to the Dodgers.

Not counting their trade with the Royals for reliever Aaron Crow, it marked the first major acquisition for the Marlins since the signing last month of Giancarlo Stanton.

DeegordonThough there are obvious concerns about his relatively low on-base percentage, Gordon provides the Marlins with a leadoff hitter, allowing Christian Yelich to drop into the No. 2 spot in front of Stanton. Gordon, 26, was an All-Star last season with the Dodgers, leading the league in stolen bases (64) and triples (12) while hitting .289.

Gordon is a converted shortstop, and the reports on his defense are strong.

The question is whether Haren ever throws a pitch for the Marlins. The 34-year-old starter told ESPN.com last month that he would prefer to retire (and forego his $10 million contract) rather than be traded to a team outside of Southern California, where he is from.

"My signing with the Dodgers last year and my decision to exercise my player option were based on my desire to play in Southern California near my family," Haren told ESPN in an email. "I had other opportunities, but at this point in my career, I have no interest in playing in a city away from my family."

A source with knowledge of the situation said the Marlins did not receive any assurances from Haren beforehand that he would pitch for them if included Wednesday's deal. So we'll have to want and see how it all shakes out.

If Haren rethinks his position, he would represent a solid addition to the rotation. Over his 12-year career in the majors, Haren has gone 142-122. In 32 starts for the Dodgers last season, he was 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA.

The Marlins are giving up two solid prospects in Heaney and Barnes. But they're receiving a young second baseman who is in his first year of salary arbitration and would not become a free agent until after the 2018 season.

Speaking in general about the desire for a swift leadoff hitter (ala Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo -- and even Chuck Carr for Marlins old-timers), Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told reporters on Tuesday that the Marlins "have always liked the (speed) component. I would like more."

On Wednesday, the Marlins got it in the form of Gordon.

The news of the trade broke shortly after word leaked that the Marlins had come up short in their bid to trade for Arizona Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley. According to sources, the Marlins thought they were closing in on a deal for Miley before the Diamondbacks suddenly backed out and elected to hold on to their pitcher.

There are still some details -- mainly involving Haren's status -- that still need to be cleared up. But, from what is known so far, tell us your thoughts.

What do you think about this trade?

December 08, 2014

Catcher Rob Brantly claimed by White Sox

SAN DIEGO -- Another Marlins trade with the Detroit Tigers can now be written off as a complete bust.

Catcher Rob Brantly, who was obtained from Detroit in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade-deadline deal in 2012, was claimed off waivers on Monday by the Chicago White Sox. Brantly

That means all three players the Marlins acquired in that Detroit deal are no longer in the organization. Pitcher Jacob Turner was dealt to the Cubs late last season while pitcher Brian Flynn was shipped to Kansas City in the trade for reliever Aaron Crow last month. While it doesn't rank with the Miguel Cabrera trade disaster with Detroit, the 2012 deal with the Tigers represents yet another mistake for the Marlins in their Motor City dealings. 

When the Marlins acquired Brantly, they were counting on him to become their catcher of the future. But it soon became apparent that wasn't going to be the case. While Brantly was the Marlins' opening day catcher in 2013, he hit only .211 and struggled defensively. He spent all of last season at Triple A New Orleans after the Marlins went out and signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a 3-year deal.

And with the budding emergence of catcher J.T. Realmuto, Brantly became expendable.

With Monday's move, the Marlins created an opening on the 40-man roster in case they decide to take a player in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

November 19, 2014

November 18, 2014

Marlins announce spring training schedule, host Red Sox March 24

MARLINS SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

March 2: vs. FIU (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 3: vs. University of Miami (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 4: Off day
March 5: vs. Cardinals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 6: at Red Sox (Fort Myers), TBA
March 7: vs. Mets (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 8: vs. Cardinals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 9: at Mets (Port St. Lucie), 1:10 p.m.
March 10: vs. Nationals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 11: vs. Mets (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 12: at Minnesota (Fort Myers), 1:05 p.m.
March 13: vs. Cardinals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 14: at Nationals (ss) (Viera), 1:05 p.m.
March 15: vs. Tigers (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 16: Off Day
March 17: vs. Cardinals (ss) (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.; vs. Mets (ss) (Port St. Lucie), 1:10 p.m.
March 18: vs. Nationals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 19: at Braves (Orlando), 1:05 p.m.
March 20: vs. Braves (Jupiter), 7:05 p.m.
March 21: at Nationals (Viera), 1:05 p.m.
March 22: vs. Twins (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 23: vs. Mets (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 24: vs. Red Sox (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 25: at Tigers (Lakeland), 1:05 p.m.
March 26: vs. Cardinals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 27: at Astros (Kissimmee), 6:05 p.m.
March 28: vs. Astros (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
March 29: at Nationals (Viera), 1:05 p.m.
March 30: at Mets (Port St. Lucie), 1:10 p.m.
March 31: vs. Cardinals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.
April 1: vs. Nationals (Jupiter), 1:05 p.m.

November 11, 2014

Miami Marlins might have to soften "no-trade" stance to secure Stanton

PHOENIX -- The Marlins have long resisted granting no-trade protection to players. Only pitcher Javier Vazquez during the Jeffrey Loria ownership regime managed to coerce the Marlins into awarding him that contractual right, and that was only because his deal was for just one year.

But if the Marlins hope to convince Giancarlo Stanton into agreeing to a long-term extension, they know they might have to soften their stance and make an exception for their prized slugger.

"It's been a long-standing policy, but you're talking about a tremendous talent," acknowledged Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations, in a group media session on Tuesday. "You look at the marketplace and what other elite players have gotten...it'll definitely be a topic of discussion."

With the exception of Vazquez, the Marlins have steadfastly refused to grant no-trade protection to any of their free-agent signings. Just ask Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, who were shipped off to Toronto just one year after working out multi-year deals. It was that 2012 firestorm, recall, that angered not only the Miami fan base, but one notable Marlins player in particular: Stanton.

Now, in order to get a deal done with the star outfielder, the Marlins are fully aware they might have to give in on their anti-no-trade policy.

"Not to get any specifics about anyting," Hill said of ongoing contract talks with Stanton. "But we want the player to be a Marlin, and whenever that time comes and you get into the details of it, it's something that (the team will examine)."

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With Stanton's long-term future serving as one of the major backdrops of the Hot Stove season, Hill and Marlins general manager Dan Jennings were swarmed instantly by baseball writers when they walked into a conference room Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore.

Not surprisingly, given the almost fetish-like fascination Boston sportswriters have shown for Stanton over the past year or so, writers who cover the Red Sox constituted about half of the throng of a dozen or so. No real news came out of it, other than for Hill to declare that the dialogue so far between team officials and Stanton's agent have been "positive."

Hill provided no concrete details on the negotiatons, however.

"We're going to do everything in our power to keep him as long as we can," Hill once again stated.

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Anthony DeSclafani was named the Arizona Fall League's Pitcher of the Week and will start Saturday's AFL championship game for the Salt River Rafters.

DeSclafani credits an improved curveball with his fall league success. The rookie pitcher for the Marlins led AFL pitchers in innings pitched with 27, ranked second in strikeouts with 24, and went 1-0 with a 2.67 ERA in six starts.

"It's something to change the eye level of hitters," DeSclafani said of his curve. "I think that's going to help me out in the future, and I'm kind of looking forward to taking that into spring training. I think anytime you can throw another pitch for a strike, it's definitely a plus, and it's defnitely another advantage for me pitching. I can definitely tell a difference when there's a hitter up the plate."

DeSclafani appeared in 13 games (including five starts) last season for the Marlins, going 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA.

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One free agent the Marlins have eyeballed as a possible fit at second base is Asdrubal Cabrera, who has spent most of his big-league career at shortstop. A two-time All-Star, Cabrera has defensive limitations at short, though, and might benefit from a permanent position switch to the other side of the infield.

Cabrera is a career .268 hitter with some pop.

November 04, 2014

Yelich becomes youngest Marlin ever to win a Gold Glove

He isn't the flashiest outfielder in baseball, but Marlins 22-year-old left fielder Christian Yelich now has the hardware to prove he's one of the best defensive players in the game.

Tuesday night Yelich became just the sixth Marlins player ever -- and the franchise's first outfielder -- to win a Gold Glove Award.

Playing in his first full big-league season in spacious Marlins Park, the club's 2010 first round pick paced all National League left fielders with only one error, six assists (one double play) and a .996 fielding percentage.

Up until last season, managers and coaches in each league were tasked with picking the best defensive players at each position (although they couldn't vote for their own players). Now, Gold Glove winners are selected as a collaboration between votes by managers and coaches and sabermetrics.

Even though he's not blessed with the strongest of arms, Yelich had a stellar season covering ground with his glove according to the folks who evaluate players beyond traditional statistics.

According to Bill James' plus/minus leaderboard (which measures the number of plays the player made above or below that of an average fielder), Yelich led all left fielders in baseball with a plus-34 rating. His 13 runs saved, meanwhile, ranked second to Kansas City's Alex Gordon (27) among all left fielders.

Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, also named finalists for Gold Gloves this season, weren't as highly rated when it came to sabermetrics.

Although Hechavarria finished fourth in putouts (200), sixth in fielding percentage (.979) and made dozens of highlight worthy plays this season, he inexplicably ranked last among 67 shortstops in total zone fielding Runs with a minus-10 average.

Stanton, who won the Hank Aaron Award last month for being the best hitter in the National League, ranked sixth in fielding percentage (.982) and finished tied for third with seven outfield assists among right fielders. But there was no way he was going to beat the Braves' Jason Heyward, who is a sabermetrics beast.

Stanton was close, though, finishing second in total zone fielding runs (28) and fourth in defensive runs saved (7) according to Baseball Info Solutions.

Yelich is the youngest Marlins player to win a Gold Glove. Former catcher Charles Johnson was 24 when he was awarded his first of three in 1995.

Johnson and second baseman Luis Castillo each won three Gold Gloves with the Marlins. Pitcher Mark Bueherle (2012), first baseman Derrek Lee (2005) and third baseman Mike Lowell (2005) each won a Gold Glove once with the Marlins.

Stanton named finalist for MVP along with Kershaw, McCutchen

Surprise, surprise!

Okay, maybe not.

As expected, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has been named a finalist for the National League MVP award alongside Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who won the award last year.

Last month, Stanton was selected as the National League's Hank Aaron Award winner, given to the best hitter in each league. His biggest competition for the MVP will be Kershaw, who should win the Cy Young and is considered by many to be the favorite for the MVP.

The MVP winner will be announced Thursday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m.

October 25, 2014

Stanton named NL's Hank Aaron Award winner

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and an 88-mile-an-hour fastball to the face from Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers will probably prevent Giancarlo Stanton from earning the National League's highest honor this season. 

But nobody -- not even the great Kershaw -- could stop Stanton from being named the league's best offensive player this season. 

The 24-year-old All-Star right fielder became the first Marlins player ever to receive the Hank Aaron Award on Saturday night, a prize handed out to the best hitter in each league annually since 1999 and selected by a special panel of Hall of Fame players and fan votes. The Angels' Mike Trout won it for the the American League after leading the AL in runs scored (115) and RBI (111) while batting .287 with 36 home runs.

Stanton was in San Francisco for Game 4 of the World Series Saturday evening to receive his award alongside Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig.

Stanton missed the final 17 games of the regular season after that Fiers pitch broke cheekbones, chipped teeth, and required stitches to patch up a gash. He still led the league in home runs (37), finished second with 105 RBI (he was leading the league when he was hurt) and hit .288 while stealing 13 bases.

The Marlins have had four Rookies of the Year (Dontrelle Willis, Hanley Ramirez, Chris Coghlan and Jose Fernandez), two managers of the Year (Jack McKeon, Joe Girardi), five gold glove winners (Charles Johnson, Luis Castillo, Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Mark Buehrle) and five Silver Sluggers (Gary Sheffield, Mike Lowell, Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla and Ramirez), but have never had an MVP or Cy Young winner. 

Stanton's honor might qualify as the most prestigious yet.

"These first-time Hank Aaron Award winners are two of our game’s most exciting and talented young players," Selig said in a statement released by MLB. "For as much as they have already accomplished, Mike and Giancarlo have wonderful futures ahead of them, and they will make Major League Baseball proud in the years ahead.”

Asked how the recovery process is going, Stanton told World Series reporters: "It was a long process of just kind of laying around the house, not being able to leave too much. But I feel great now, and I'll be back to my normal off-season routine and shouldn't skip a beat."

October 23, 2014

Miami Marlins: Hechavarria, Stanton & Yelich are Gold Glove finalists

Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton and left fielder Christian Yelich have been named as finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove award given to the top defensive players at each position.

None of the three players has ever won a Gold Glove.

There are three finalists at every position from both leagues. Among N.L. teams, the Dodgers have the most finalists with four.

The awards are voted on by big-league managers and coaches. Their vote counts for 75 percent of the selection process. The sabermetrics community accounts for the other 25 percent.