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5 posts from December 2015

December 08, 2015

Numerous teams interested in Marcell Ozuna; Jose Fernandez trade rumors continue

NASHVILLE -- At least seven to 10 teams have touched base with the Marlins concerning Marcell Ozuna, sources are telling me, increasing the likelihood that the outfielder will be traded at some point. The Marlins are seeking young, controllable starting pitching in return.

But there is clearly demand for Ozuna.

One team that has shown interest is the Yankees, according to George King III of the New York Post:

According to a person familiar with the Marlins’ thinking, they aren’t opposed to dealing outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who interests the Yankees despite the 25-year-old right-handed hitter batting .259 with 10 homers, 44 RBIs and a .691 OPS last season. When the Marlins sent him to Triple-A for 33 games, he batted .317 with a .937 OPS.

The Marlins have liked Bryan Mitchell as a starter and Adam Warren as a reliever, but it will take more than that to get Ozuna because some talent evaluators believe he is on the cusp of a breakout season.

The Marlins could decide to improve their bargaining position for Ozuna by waiting for the top free agent outfielders -- Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton -- to sign and allow the trade market to heat up.


Despite a flat-out declaration from Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill that Jose Fernandez is "not available," rumors continue to persist that the team could be looking to trade the pitcher.

ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting this morning that, in addition to the Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks, a "mystery team" is in discussions with the Marlins for Fernandez (CBSsports.com's Jon Heyman reported that the Diamondbacks are now "out.")

My strong sense is that the Marlins do not intend to deal Fernandez -- at least not now. Or not unless some team is willing to meet the Marlins' pie-in-sky demands for the ace hurler.

But the Marlins also know that Fernandez will have to be traded at some point, whether it's now, the July 31 trade deadline, or next year.

In talking with teams, could the Marlins merely be gauging the market to assess Fernandez's actual trade value for when that time comes? I posed that thought to one baseball insider with knowledge of the Marlins' thinking and was told this: "You're right on it."

When Hill was asked about Fernandez last night, with owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson sitting within earshot, he was emphatic. "He's not available."

That doesn't mean the Marlins aren't listening to what teams have to offer, or that they would automatically reject a bonanza haul for Fernandez. That would be foolish. But if the Marlins were really entertaining a trade for the pitcher, it's more likely Hill would have couched his comments to give himself and the Marlins some leeway if and when they deal their star.

December 07, 2015

Marlins on Jose Fernandez: "He's not available."

NASHVILLE -- The Marlins aren't trying to trade Jose Fernandez, and they're telling teams they have no intention of doing so anytime soon, according to one top team official.

"He's not available," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. "We haven't made him available. But it doesn't stop the phone calls from coming."

Fernandez was a hot topic on the first day of baseball's Winter Meetings, with numerous outlets reporting that at least three teams -- the Dodgers, Yankees and Diamondbacks -- had contacted the Marlins about their star pitcher.

Hill said none of that is surprising.

"When you have a talented player, you're going to get calls on them," Hill said. "And this is the place where that happens. It's all part of the winter meetings experience. For the most part, there really hasn't been anything to talk about with him."

Hill's emphatic comments all but squashed various trade rumors throughout the day involving Fernandez.
Several indicated that when approached about Fernandez, the Marlins countered with pie-in-the-sky proposals about what it would take to acquire the 23-year-old ace.

The New York Post quoted one unidentified major league executive as saying, "The cost (for Fernandez) is so overwhelming that I don't think he is really available."

The Marlins were reportedly telling teams that they would want high-end prospects and major-league-ready talent -- starting pitchers, in particular -- to help them win in 2016.

But the asking price is so great that many questioned whether the Marlins have any real intention of dealing him.

Hill told reporters last week that the Marlins aren't actively dangling Fernandez in trade discussions.

"He sits at the front of our rotation," Hill said. "We are not shopping Jose Fernandez. I don’t know what more I can say. He’s a good pitcher, one of the best in the league, so you’re going to get asked about him. But we are not shopping Jose Fernandez.”

Fernandez is under team control for three more seasons and remains relatively inexpensive. He is projected to make $2.2 million next season in what will be his first year of arbitration eligibility.

But the longer the Marlins hang on to Fernandez, the less the Marlins can expect to receive for him in a trade, as his value will diminish in coming years as he approaches free agency.

Marlins in trade talks with Red Sox for pitchers Wade Miley and Joe Kelly [UPDATE: Miley goes to Mariners]

For the second straight year, the Marlins came up short in their attempt to acquire Wade Miley. According to reports, Miley is going to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Carson Smith and starter Roenis Elias. That suggests the Red Sox were looking to deal Miley in exchange for bullpen help and the Marlins potentially would have had to give up one of their relievers (Mike Dunn? A.J. Ramos?).

NASHVILLE -- The Marlins came close to landing Wade Miley in a trade last December. Now they're continuing their pursuit for the durable lefty.

Sources said Monday that the Marlins have spoken to the Boston Red Sox about both Miley and right-hander Joe Kelly. Any trade would involve one, but not both, sources said. And it's unknown what the Marlins would have to give up in the deal.

The Marlins thought they were on the verge of acquiring Miley last year before the Red Sox swooped in at the last minute and worked out a deal with the Diamondbacks.

But after going 11-11 with a 4.46 ERA with Boston, Miley is back on the trading block. In addition to the Marlins, the Red Sox are reportedly entertaining offers from the Rangers and Mariners. Miley has consistently thrown 195-200 innings each of the past four seasons, and owns a career record of 49-46 with a 3.95 ERA.

Kelly went 10-6 with a 4.82 ERA last season for the Red Sox.


There's been a lot of trade buzz involving Jose Fernandez at the Winter Meetings. But it's not anything to get too excited about.

While the Marlins aren't shopping Fernandez, they have been approached by a couple of teams about him, namely the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. The Marlins are listening, and are reportedly asking for a pie-in-the-sky haul in return.

One executive told the New York Post that the Marlins' asking price is so great that he finds it extremely doubtful any team would bite.

"The cost is so overwhelming that I don't think he is really available," the unidentified executive told the Post.

Marlins general manager Michael Hill told reporters last week that the Marlins aren't in any hurry to deal their ace, and that he is not being shopped.


December 03, 2015

Miami Marlins: "Difficult decision" to non-tender Henderson Alvarez

In the end with Henderson Alvarez, it came down to a basic risk-reward issue. The Marlins saw more risk by keeping the pitcher than the reward that might have resulted in doing so. Nobody knows when Alvarez will be ready to return to the mound, and therein lay the decision Wednesday to non-tender the one-time All-Star.

"A very difficult decision," said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations.

The Marlins tendered contracts to eight of their 10 arbitration-eligible players, including Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria. But Alvarez and reliever Aaron Crow were told 'no thanks,' allowing each to become a free agent. The price tag to keep Alvarez alone would have been about $4 million, and given the uncertainty surrounding the quirky right-hander as he works his way back from shoulder surgery made him a risky investment.

Best-case scenarios have Alvarez missing the first month or so of next season, and the Marlins -- on their limited budget -- are in no position to cross their fingers and wait.

"As we looked into the offseason, we are going to need depth (in the rotation), and we're going to need innings," Hill explained. "He's not going to be able to provide those for us for some time."

Alvarez only began playing catch this week.

"It was step one in a long process," Hill said. "It was playing catch. It was not even to the point where you could even envision or gauge when he would be able to return. Given our challenges, we have to have our dollars on the field, performing for us. We felt like we could better allocate the dollars in other areas."

Hill said the Marlins are open to the idea of re-signing Alvarez and Crow at reduced salaries. Crow, who missed all last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, stood to make $2 million in arbitration. But other teams will also have a shot at the two pitchers.

"We hope to keep the lines of communication open with both," Hill said. "Both are free agents. But if there is a creative way to keep them both, we'll look to do that."



December 02, 2015

It's decision day for Henderson Alvarez

Henderson Alvarez was an All-Star in 2014 and the Marlins' opening day starter last year. But he could be a goner -- flicked away like the spent ash at the end of a cigarette -- come midnight tonight.

That's the deadline for teams to either tender -- or non-tender -- contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, and the fate of Alvarez [stats] hangs in the balance. The Marlins have 10 arbitration players to consider, and nine of them are no-brainers.

Jose Fernandez, Dee Gordon, Adeiny Hechavarria, A.J. Ramos, Tom Koehler, Bryan Morris, Carter Capps and David Phelps are all keepers. Reliever Aaron Crow will almost certainly be non-tendered given that he missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but still stands to make about $2 million -- precious money to the Marlins -- in the arbitration process.

Alvarez, though, is the interesting one.

According to projections provided by mlbtraderumors.com, Alvarez is positioned to receive about $4 million through arbitration. And therein lies the quandary for the Marlins. Alvarez is coming off shoulder surgery and -- assuming there are no setbacks along the way -- likely wouldn't be ready to pitch again until a month or two into the season.

Even if the Marlins felt convinced that Alvarez will make it back and give them 20 or so starts, there's no guarantee he'll be the same pitcher he was before. On the other hand, $4 million isn't a lot to pay for a No. 2 or No. 3 starter, not in the current free agent climate in which the J.A. Happs of the world are landing three-year deals paying them $36 million. If Alvarez returns the same pitcher he once was, he's a bargain.

The Marlins, who are looking to upgrade the rotation with one or two starters, have no intention of spending big bucks on a mid-rotation arm. So they'll either go after the low-hanging fruit that remains after the pricier free agent starters are gone, or trade (Marcell Ozuna?) to acquire a pitcher.

For now, though, the clock is ticking on Alvarez.

Should the Marlins roll the dice and hang on to Alvarez? Or should they fold by cutting him loose?

What would you do?