February 12, 2015

MLB set to make 2017 All-Star Game announcement Friday at Marlins Park

New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred will be at Marlins Park Friday to make "a major announcement" according to a press release sent out by Major League Baseball on Thursday.

Of course, we already know what it is. As our Clark Spencer first reported Tuesday, the Marlins are getting the 2017 All-Star Game. 

Friday at 2 p.m. inside Marlins Park all the big wigs are coming out to participate in the announcement: owner Jeffrey Loria, president David Samson, Florida governor Rick Scott, Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami mayor Tomas Regalado and Miami Beach mayor Phillip Levine.

We'll be there to cover it. 

February 08, 2015

Mike Dunn gets 2-year contract from Marlins, avoids arbitration

Left-handed reliever Mike Dunn avoided salary arbitration Sunday by signing a two-year contract with the Marlins for $5.8 million.

The deal calls for Dunn to receive $2.35 million in 2015 and $3.45 million in 2016.

With the deal, the Marlins bought out Dunn's final two arbitration years. The earliest he is eligible for free agency is after the '16 season.

Dunn, 29, the Marlins' lefty workhorse out of the bullpen, has appeared in 282 games for them since coming over from in the 2010 trade with Atlanta for Dan Uggla. Dunn has made 75 relief appearances in each of the past two seasons.

Last season, he went 10-6 with a 3.16 ERA.

Dunn had filed for a 2015 salary figure of $2.6 million while the Marlins had countered with $2.355 million, or close to the figure he'll receive this coming season with his new contract.

With Dunn and Mat Latos out of the way, the Marlins have only one remaining arbitration case. That is with pitcher David Phelps.

Dunn becomes the first player under this ownership regime to work out a deal after both sides had exchanged arbitration figures. The Marlins have a long-standing policy in the arbitration process, refusing to cut deals with players after both sides have exchanged figures -- but not unless the player agrees to their figure. Since Dunn's 2015 salary is $50,000 below the Marlins' filing figure, the two sides ironed out the two-year contract.

Dunn is represented by agent Tom O'Connell of O'Connell Sports Management.

February 05, 2015

Marlins end losing streak, win arbitration case w/Latos; not a major player in James Shields sweepstakes

Arbitrators have ruled in favor of the Marlins in their arbitration case with pitching newcomer Mat Latos, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, ending Miami's long losing streak in salary hearings. It was the first win for the Marlins in a salary arbitration case since 2007 (scorecard). They had lost their previous four cases.

Latos was seeking $10.4 million. But arbitrators ruled in favor of the Marlins' $9.4 figure.

Two other arbitration cases involving Marlins have yet to be argued. Hearings will also be held for pitchers Mike Dunn and David Phelps.

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While the Marlins have closely monitored the James Shields situation, multiple sources have told me they don't expect to sign the free agent pitcher, with one assessing the team's chances at "zero percent."

With Dan Haren expected to report to spring training (the Marlins have been unsuccessful in fulfilling his request for a trade to a West Coast team), the team's 2015 payroll will exceed the projected budget figure of $65 million. Acquiring Shields would push it well past $80 million.

Shields is expected to announce a decision within the coming days.

January 27, 2015

Marlins announce Ichiro deal; will introduce him in Tokyo press conference

The Marlins late Tuesday night formally announced their one-year deal with 10-time All-Star and 41-year old veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.

Team representatives including owner Jeffrey Loria have traveled to Japan for a press conference, scheduled to take place at noon Wednesday.

"He is the ultimate professional on and off the field and will make an excellent addition to our ball club," Loria said in a statement.

Ichiro is the first Japanese player to sign with the Marlins. He is just 156 shy of 3,000.

The news of the deal was first reported last Friday. Suzuki will serve as the team's fourth outfielder.

January 23, 2015

Ichiro agrees to become Marlins fourth outfielder, first-ever Japanese player on club's MLB roster

The Marlins on Friday agreed to a one-year contract with 10-time All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to become the team’s fourth outfielder, a source with direct knowledge said.

The contract, pending a physical, will pay Ichiro, who turned 41 back in October, in the $2 million range.

A 10-time Gold Glove winner, Ichiro hit a respectable .284 for the Yankees last season and stole 15 bases in 385 plate appearances. A career .317 hitter, he was 11 for 25 (.440) as a pinch-hitter for the Yankees the last two seasons.

Tied with former Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez for 48th all-time in MLB history for hits with 2,844, Suzuki is just 156 away from becoming the 29th player to reach the 3,000 mark in his career. With 4,122 professional hits between Japan and the U.S., Suzuki is also only 134 short of Pete Rose's MLB record of 4,256.

Odds are, though, Suzuki won’t reach either mark in 2015 unless the Marlins lose one of their young, talented starters to injury.

As it stands, though, Ichiro’s veteran presence could be a great influence on left fielder Christian Yelich, 23, a fellow left-handed, top-of-the-order hitter who batted .284 and stole 21 bases in his first full major league season last year.

Friday’s news was already being warmly received by Suzuki’s new teammates.

“Big props to the Marlins on adding Ichiro, Japan hit king [and] my homie,” new Marlins first baseman Mike Morse wrote on Twitter.

Morse, who signed a two-year $16 million deal with the Marlins last month, spent four seasons with Suzuki in Seattle.

A former star in Japan, Ichiro began his Major League Baseball career with the Mariners in 2001 and played there until joining the Yankees in 2012. He won American League batting titles twice (2001, 2004) and the MVP award the same season he won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2001.

After hitting .262 with seven homers and 35 RBI in 128 starts in 2013 for the Yankees, he batted .284 with one homer and 22 RBI in 95 starts last season in New York.

Ichiro’s addition is just another move by the Marlins in beefing up the roster around right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who signed a 13-year, $325 million deal back in November with the promise the organization would build around him.

The Marlins made trades to acquire third baseman Martin Prado from the Yankees, second baseman Dee Gordon and pitcher Dan Haren from Dodgers, pitcher Mat Latos from the Reds and then signed Morse to a free agent contract.

The club’s payroll was nearly $65 million prior to the Ichiro deal. That doesn’t include portions of contracts that will be paid by the Dodgers and Yankees in trades for Haren, Gordon and Prado.

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Adding Ichiro to the team also gives the Marlins their first Japanese player ever on the big league roster. Here's a look at other Japanese players to make the majors and the teams they played for prior to Friday's news.

NL East
> Mets 12 (Pitchers Hideo Nomo, Takashi Kashiwada, Masato Yoshii, Satoru Komiyama, Kzuhisa Ishii, Shingo Takatsu, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ken Takahashi, Hisanori Takahashi, Ryota Igarashi, infielder Kazuo Matsui, outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo)
> Nationals/Expos 3 (Pitchers Tomokazu Ohka, Hideki Irabu, Masato Yoshii)
> Braves 2 (Pitchers Takashi Saito, Kenshin Kawakami)
> Phillies 2 (Outfielder So Taguchi, infielder Tadahito Iguchi)
> Marlins 0

NL Central
> Brewers 7 (Outfielder Nori Aoki, pitchers Hideo Nomo, Mac Suzuki, Tomokazu Ohka, Takahito Nomura, Takashi Saito)
> Cubs 5 (Pitchers Kyuji Fujikawa, Tsuyoshi Wada, Hisanori Takahashi, outfielders So Taguchi, Kosuke Fukudome)
> Pirates 3 (Infielder Akinori Iwamura, pitchers Masumi Kuwata and Hisanori Takahashi)
> Cardinals 1 (Outfielder So Taguchi)
> Reds 0

NL West
> Dodgers 6 (Pitchers Hideo Nomo, Masao Kida, Kazuhisa Ishii, Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, infielder Norihiro Nakamura)
> Giants 5 (Pitchers Masanori Murakami, Keiichi Yabu, outfielders Nori Aoki, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kensuke Tanaka)
> Rockies 3 (Pitchers Mac Suzuki, Masato Yoshii, infielder Kazuo Matsui)
> Padres 2 (Pitcher Akinori Otsuka, infielder Tadahito Iguchi)
> Diamondbacks 1 (Pitcher Takashi Saito)

AL East
> Yankees 7 (Pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa, Hiroki Kuroda, Ryota Igarashi, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui)
> Red Sox 7 (Pitchers Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Hideo Nomo, Tomokazu Ohka, Takashi Saito, Hideki Okajima, Daisuke Matsuzaka)
> Blue Jays 4 (Pitchers Tomokazu Ohka, Micheal Nakamura, Ryota Igarashi, infielder Munenori Kawasaki)
> Rays 3 (Pitcher Hideo Nomo, outfielder Hideki Matsui, infielder Akinori Iwamura)
> Orioles 1 (Pitcher Koji Uehara)

AL Central
> Indians 4 (Pitchers Tomokazu Ohka, Kazuhito Tadano, Masahide Kobayashi, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome)
> White Sox 3 (Pitcher Shingo Takatsu, infielder Tadahito Iguchi, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome)
> Royals 3 (Outfielder Nori Aoki, pitchers Hideo Nomo, Mac Suzuki, Yasuhiko Yabuta)
> Tigers 2 (Pitchers Hideo Nomo, Masao Kida)
> Twins 2 (Pitcher Michael Nakamura, infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka)

AL West
> Mariners 8 (Pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma, Mac Suzuki, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Masao Kida, Kazuhiro Sasaki, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, catcher Kenji Johjima, infielder Munenori Kawasaki)
> Rangers 7 (Pitchers Koji Uehara, Yu Darvish, Kyuji Fujikawa, Hideki Irabu, Akinori Otsuka, Kazuo Fukumori, Yoshinori Tateyama)
> Athletics 4 (Outfielder Hideki Matsui, pitchers Keiichi Yabu, Hideki Okajima, infielder Akinori Iwamura)
> Angels 3 (Pitchers Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Hisanori Takahashi, outfielder Hideki Matsui)
> Astros 1 (Infielder Kazuo Matsui)

January 21, 2015

A look at the Marlins 25 non-roster spring training invitees

The Marlins announced Wednesday they have Spring Training invitations to 25 non-roster players including 15 minor league free agents.

Those are: 

> Right-handed pitchers Ryan Chaffee (4-2, 4.62 ERA, 44 relief appearances in Double A, Triple A with Angels in 2014), Nick Masset (2-0, 5.80 ERA, 51 appearances with Rockies in 2014), Vin Mazzaro (8-2, 2.81 ERA in 57 relief appearances with Pirates in 2013) and Ryan Reid (5-2, 4.91 ERA, 48 relief appearances in Triple A for Mets in 2014).

> Left-handed pitchers Pat Misch (3-7, 5.07 ERA in 13 starts for Tigers Triple A team in 2013), Chris Narveson (4-7, 5.14 ERA in 15 starts for Cardinals Triple A team in 2013), and Pat Urckfitz (1-2, 2.68 ERA in 47 relief appearances for Astros in Double A, Triple A in 2014).

> Catchers Vinny Rottino (.306, 2 HR, 22 RBI for Nexen of Korean Baseball Organization in 2014) and Jhonatan Solano (.251, 10 HR, 53 RBI for Nationals Triple A team in 2014)

> Infielders Reid Brignac (.222, 1 HR, 10 RBI in 37 games for Phillies in 2014), Don Kelly (.245, 7 RBI, 6 SBs in 95 games with Tigers in 2014), and Scott Sizemore (.266, 7 HR, 41 RBI for Yankees Triple A team in 2014)

> Outfielders Tyler Colvin (.223, 2 HR, 18 RBI in 57 games with Giants in 2014), Cole Gillespie (.243, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 35 games between Mariners-Blue Jays in 2014) and Kenny Wilson (.246, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 31 SBs in 117 games between Double A, Triple A for Blue Jays, Athletics, Twins in 2014).

The following 10 organizational players were extended Spring Training invitations:

> Right-handed pitchers Brian Ellington (2-2, 4.75 ERA, 35 relief apperances in Single A Jupiter in 2014), Trevor Williams (8-7, 3.12 ERA in 26 starts between Single A and Double A in 2014) and Nick Wittgren (5-5, 3.55 ERA, 20 saves for Double A Jacksonville in 2014)

> Catcher Sharif Othman (.172, 5 HR, 17 RBI between Single A Greensboro and Jupiter in 2014)

> Infielders Justin Bohn (.295, 6 HR, 59 RBI, 11 SBs in 111 games between Single A Jupiter and Greensboro in 2014), Austin Nola (.259, 1 HR, 53 RBI for Double A Jacksonville in 2014), Avery Romero (.320, 5 HR, 56 RBI, 10 SBs between Single A Jupiter and Greensboro in 2014), Viosergy Rosa (.292, 15 HR, 95 RBI between Single A Jupiter and Double A Jacksonville in 2014) and Jordany Valdespin (.280, 3 HR, 10 RBI in 52 games with Marlins in 2014)

> Outfielder Austin Wates (.286, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 37 SBs for Astros and Marlins in Triple A in 2014).

Pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Feb. 20 in Jupiter, and the first full-squad workout will be Feb. 24.

As of today's announcement, the Marlins will have 65 players in Major League Spring Training camp.

January 16, 2015

Miami Marlins avoid arbitration with Cishek, Alvarez, Gordon and Crow

The Marlins avoided arbitration with four players -- Steve Cishek, Henderson Alvarez, Dee Gordon and Aaron Crow -- but failed to reach agreement with three of their other arbitration-eligible players before Friday's 1 p.m. deadline.

Because no deals were worked out with Mat Latos, Mike Dunn and David Phelps before the deadline, the Marlins will go to arbitration hearings with those players. The Marlins don't negotiate with players once the deadline has passed.

Cishek agreed to a contract that will pay him $6,650,000 next season. Alvarez ($4 million), Gordon ($2.5 million) and Crow (1,975,000 plus performance-based incentives) also completed deals.

December 20, 2014

Trading McGehee tough call for Hill, but Marlins have wanted Prado for years

Roughly 24 hours after welcoming a new first baseman, new second baseman and new starting pitcher to the organization in an introductory press conference at Marlins Park, Mike Hill got around to talking about his latest big move on Saturday -– upgrading third base.

Friday, the Marlins acquired Martin Prado from the Yankees (a player the Marlins tried to get back in 2010 when they shipped Dan Uggla off to Atlanta) and sent Casey McGehee, the National League’s 2014 Comeback Player of the Year, to the Giants for two minor league pitchers.

Hill said parting with the 32-year-old McGehee was “an extremely difficult decision because he did mean so much on the field and in the clubhouse, a true pro in every sense of the word.”

But getting the younger, more versatile Prado, 31, who is a better a career hitter (.291) and fielder (.965) at third base than McGehee (.261 hitting; .953 fielding), was too much to pass up. So was the fact Prado is under contract through 2016 (the Marlins will pay him $8 million each season with the Yankees picking up $3 million each year). McGehee, headed to arbitration and expected to make close to $4 million, would be eligible for free agency after 2015.

“It was probably one of the toughest phone calls I’ve ever had to make to let Casey know he’d been traded,” the club's president of baseball operations said. “But in return, we’re really excited to bring back Prado and we’re excited for what he brings both on the field and in the clubhouse as well.”

Though McGehee was a pleasant surprise last season, batting .319 with 53 RBI before the All-Star break, he slumped after the break hitting .243 with 23 RBI while bouncing into a major-league leading 31 double plays.

Still, Hill said thanked McGehee for what he did for the team in 2014. “We’re trying to build and be successful and he understood what we were trying to do,” Hill said. “We just thanked him for what he did for us on and off the field.  He thanked us for bringing him back to the big leagues and giving him an opportunity. We wished him the best of luck and he wished us the best of luck and that was it.”

Prado, an All-Star in 2010 during his seven-year stint with the Braves, hit .282 with 12 homers and 58 RBI last season for the Diamondbacks and Yankees. He missed the final three weeks of the season after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Sept.16. Hill said Prado, a native Venezuelan, is “full go” in terms of health and will be the Marlins' everyday third baseman.

“He’s extremely excited to join our club,” Hill said. “We saw a lot of him from the other dugout when he was with the Atlanta Braves. It’s nice to have him in a Marlins’ uniform. He’s killed us on many occasions as an opposing player. We just love what he brings to the table.”

Prado, a career .313 hitter against the Marlins, has batted second in the lineup most of his career but Hill said “he’ll bat somewhere in the middle of that lineup.”

"We just know he’s a very dangerous hitter who can beat you so many different ways,” Hill said. “With his bat control and knowledge of the strike zone, I don’t think we’re concerned where ever he ends up in the order. We just know he’s going to give us quality at-bats and do tremendous things for us offensively and defensively.”

In addition to Prado, the Marlins picked up right-handed pitcher David Phelps in the trade that sent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones and a minor-league pitcher to the Yankees. Under club control through 2018, Phelps, 28, started 40 games for the Yankees and pitched out of the bullpen in 47 others. He’s 15-14 with a 4.21 ERA.

“We just wanted another versatile piece,” Hill said. “We’re going to give him an opportunity to compete and be one of 12 with our club. It should be a great competition with Phelps and [Brad] Hand and [Aaron] Crow.”

Hill said right-handed pitchers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo, acquired in the McGehee trade, will likely start the season in Double A Jacksonville and Single A Jupiter, respectively. Flores, 23, is 31-24 with a 3.47 ERA in five minor-league seasons. He was one of the Giants’ top 20 prospects before the start of the 2014 season. Castillo, 22, is 3-6 with a 2.67 ERA and 32 saves in 36 chances in three minor-league seasons.

“We’ve parted with a lot of inventory over the last few weeks,” Hill said. “This was an opportunity to re-stock a bit and get quality pitching prospects we really like.”

 It’s been a busy couple weeks for the Marlins, but Hill hinted the club might not be done yet. “We’re going to try and enjoy the Holidays, but we’re still looking for ways to improve the club,’ he said. “If there is something that makes sense to us, we will pursue it.”

December 19, 2014

Mike Hill on Marlins off-season moves: "We've checked off a lot of boxes"

Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill is still tinkering with his 2015 squad, and it's likely Friday's trade with the Yankees for infielder Martin Prado and pitcher David Phelps won't be his last move.

MarlinsThird baseman Casey McGehee could be headed to San Francisco for minor league pitching, a move to save a little money and create space for Prado at third base.

Still, here's what Hill talked about Friday after introducing Dee Gordon, Mike Morse and Mat Latos among his newest acquisitions during a ceremony at Marlins Park. (Note: We're still waiting to talk to Hill about the Prado/Phelps trade).

"We love the moves we were able to make," Hill said. "We checked off a lot of boxes in terms of what our goals were and what we wanted to accomplish as we headed into the off-season. The priority was taking care of the big man and making sure he's a part of our future. We've done that. And then it was adding to this team.

"We felt like this team was good, but it wasn't where it needed to be. We needed to add more talent to get us over the hump and we felt like we needed more offense at first base. We felt like we needed a true four-hole hitter to hit behind the big man. And although it wasn't on the immediate priority list,  as the meetings unfolded in San Diego it became more clearer we could access Dee Gordon. And I wanted Dee Gordon just because he's a game changer. His speed is a game changer. He fits on this ballclub. He fits in this ballpark and he sets our lineup up in a way where we can lengthen it, make it deeper. We can put Christian Yelich in a more run-producing spot. You put him on base in front of Big G and Michael Morse and Marcell Ozuna and I think you've created an offense that is very formidable."

Hill said getting two players with local high school connections in Morse (Davie Nova) and Latos (Coconut Creek) was "just really a bonus, a cherry on top."

Both players grew up going to Joe Robbie Stadium and following the Marlins as kids. Both were there for Charlie Hough's first pitch and have deep connections with former Marlins greats.

The Marlins brought Morse to Marlins Park for a recruiting tour before heading off to San Diego for the winter meetings. 

"When we met with Mike I don't think I could put into words how excited he was for the opportunity to come back home," Hill said. "It's like, I've played for other teams, but deep down I'm a Marlins fan. You appreciate that. That he has a sense of the history of our franchise and what we've gone through. He's coming from the mountaintop. One thing that we discussed as we talked about him specifically was 'Well, he just won. How hungry is he going to be to do it again because he just won?' So a lot of our time with him was getting a feel for him and how motivated he was. And when I say we were excited when we left the meeting it's an understatement. You talk about a guy who has been to the mountaintop, but wants to do it again in his hometown and wants to be a part of raising that trophy again in South Florida, and will do everything in his power to make that happen. That resonated with both of us."

> Pitcher Dan Haren, acquired from the Dodgers, was invited to attend Friday's introductory press conference at Marlins Park but declined Hill said. Haren has said he wants to play on the West Coast and is still weighing retirement. 

"I reached out to Dan and his representatives and respectful to his process he's still working through it," Hill said. "We're going to give him the time he needs. I just continue to stress to him this is a good team and we want you to be a part of it. I left it at that. He'll make his decision. We haven't put any timelines on it."

Hill said he loves the depth the Marlins have in their starting rotation -- even without Haren. "I think we have more than enough to create a formidable rotation and we know we've got a pretty good one on the mend that will be joining us at some point," he said. "We just want to be as strong as we can be coming out of the box. Our goal is to be one of 10 [playoff teams]."

> How is Giancarlo Stanton doing in his recovery since being hit by a pitch in his face? "He's good to go," Hill said. "He's working out. He's in the cage. He's getting ready for hopefully another MVP season. And I think he's happy."

> Hill said pitcher Jose Fernandez is following protocol and progressing the way he should following Tommy John surgery.

> Hill said there's been no progress made yet with extensions for young players Christian Yelich, Adeiny Hechavarria and Fernandez.

"We've been busy, really just focused on the winter meetings and trying to do the deals we were able consummate," Hill said. "We knew those discussions were exploratory and ongoing. They're our players, aren't going anywhere. There won't be something to report until we have something to report."