« Fredi Gonzalez Goes Deer Hunting with Bobby Cox | Main | Marlins: Winter Meetings Update »

Alfredo Amezaga: A Tender Subject

    INDIANAPOLIS -- To tender Alfredo Amezaga or not to tender. That is the question the Marlins are facing with the super-utility player heading into Saturday's deadline to tender contracts to non-free agents eligible for salary arbitration. While the Marlins have 11 such players, the decisions on 10 of them shouldn't be too difficult.

    The Marlins are expected to hang on to Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez, Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu, Leo Nunez and Ronny Paulino and possibly trade Dan Uggla, Matt Lindstrom and Renyel Pinto. That leaves Amezaga, who missed most of last season due to a left knee injury that resulted in microfracture surgery.

   "He's a tough one," one Marlins official said Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings.

   The Marlins -- from the front office to the dugout -- have always liked the versatile Amezaga. But nobody knows for sure how he'll bounce back from the operation, which was performed in July by Dr. Richard Steadman, who specializes in the procedure. After all, Amezega's legs are a great part of his strength as a player.

   Amezaga's agent, Mike Nicotera, said the player is coming along fine and will be ready to go when spring training starts.

   "He's done with the healing stage," Nicotera said. "Now he's in the strengthening stage. There's been no pain or setbacks. He even told me, right from the get-go, that the pain went away after the surgery. It'll be a normal spring training for him, like anybody else."

   But there could be a couple of sticking points. One, Amezaga can expect to see a marginal increase on his $1.3 million salary from last season, abbreviated as it was. For the Marlins, that makes Amezaga a bit of a risk. They were burned last year after signing free agent reliever Scott Proctor. Proctor, who was coming off elbow surgery when the Marlins signed him for $750,000, continued to experience elbow issues and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery before ever throwing a pitch for them.

   Two, any decision on Amezaga could hinge on what the Marlins decide to do at second base if, as expected, they trade Dan Uggla (no strong movement on that front as of late Tuesday afternoon). If the Marlins decide to put Chris Coghlan at second, they could make Emilio Bonifacio their "super-utility" player, and there would be no need to keep Amezaga. If Bonifacio goes to second, then keeping Amezaga would be a more viable option.

   The picture should clear Saturday.