Quick late Sunday note: Agent Drew Rosenhaus, on his weekly segment on Channel 7's Sports Xtra, said there is "mutual interest and desire" between the Dolphins and free agent guard Evan Mathis.
Rosenhaus said "we still have a long way to go" and "we'll see if it can work out." He said there are a lot of other interested teams.
Mathis wants $5.5 million this season and the Dolphins are more inclined to pay less than half of that.
SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Though the Marlins want to keep their key players for 2016, this disaster of a season will spur at least some change in the months ahead.
Our ace beat writer Clark Spencer and I have both heard that the Marlins will make pitching their offseason priority and plan to add two starting pitchers, according to team sources. But as always, finances will provide challenges.
And there’s this: Though owner Jeffrey Loria is always capable of changing his mind, the Marlins are operating under the belief there will be a new manager next season, with Dan Jennings returning to the front office, according to team sources.
The Marlins don’t want to discuss the managerial situation publicly yet, but Laurence Leavy, known as Marlins Man because he wears his Marlins jersey to sporting events across the country, interviewed Jennings for Fox Sports Florida and said Jennings implied to him, off the air, that he will not be the manager next year.
After experimenting with a manager who had never done it beyond high school, the Marlins now prefer to hire an experienced one.
One Marlins player expected to be on the 2016 team mentioned that Bud Black, fired as Padres manager, works well with a young team.
And there are other credible names available --- Ron Gardenhire, Dusty Baker among many others. The preference for an experienced candidate would make it far less likely that Miami would revisit hiring Mike Lowell, an idea that was discussed previously.
As for the starting pitching staff, the Marlins are projecting Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart for their 2016 rotation --- despite Cosart’s vertigo that was caused by a sinus and inner-ear issue --- but nothing beyond that. They aren’t counting on Henderson Alvarez, who had shoulder surgery recently, or any of their top pitching prospects, though Alvarez would factor in if he’s healthy and effective.
The Marlins’ projected payroll for next season is already more than $47 million, counting 20 players who more than likely will be on the team barring trades. Throw in another $8 million due jettisoned catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and that brings the total to more than $55 million. It could even be a bit higher based on some potential arbitration rulings.
For perspective, the Marlins began this season with an $81 million payroll, but only $68 million was out of pocket. So if the Marlins decide to keep payroll in that range -- and that decision hasn’t been made --- that wouldn’t be nearly enough to sign a high-end starter and add another pretty good one, plus fill out the bench.
This could help matters: Loria’s financial obligations to fired manager Ozzie Guillen and dismissed former general manager Larry Beinfest finally end after this season.
If Loria becomes inclined to bid for a top starter --- and he did pursue James Shields last spring --- then Royals and former Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (7-7, 2.69 ERA) is one name that interests Miami.
Other free agent pitchers expected to get really big contracts: David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Yovani Gallardo, Mike Leake and Clay Buchholz if the Red Sox don’t pick up a $13 million team option, plus the Dodgers’ Zack Grienke if he opts out of three years and $71 million. (Obviously, most or all of these names are unrealistic within Miami’s budget.)
The next tier --- pitchers who will be costly but not quite as costly as the top tier --- include St. Louis’ John Lackey (9-6, 2.78 entering this past week but 36), Toronto’s Mark Buehrle (11-5, 3.32 but 36 and not coming back to Miami; he was furious when traded), Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen (5-6, 3.14), Toronto’s Marco Estrada (8-6, 3.53), Houston’s Scott Kazmir (6-5, 2.10), Seattle’s Hishashi Iwakuma (2-2, 4.47, a year after going 15-9), Texas’ Colby Lewis (11-4, 4.92), the Giants’ Tim Lincecum (7-4, 4.13), the Dodgers and ex-Marlin Mat Latos and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzjia (8-6, 4.35). Dan Haren has said it’s likely he will retire.
Pitchers potentially in the next more affordable tier --- and some of these pitchers could be included in the previous group with strong finishes --- include Detroit’s Alfredo Simon (10-6, 4.55), Milwaukee’s Mike Pelfrey (5-7, 3.65), Seattle’s J.A. Happ (4-6, 4.64), the Dodgers’ Brett Anderson (5-6, 3.14), the Mets’ Bartolo Colon (9-10, 4.96 and age 42), Washington’s Doug Fister (4-6, 4.39), St. Louis’ Jamie Garcia (3-4, 1.98), as well as the Giants’ Tim Hudson (6-8, 4.80 and age 40), Milwaukee’s Kyle Lohse (5-13, 6.13), the Dodgers’ Bronson Arroyo (out all year after Tommy John), Philadelphia’s Aaron Harang (5-11, 3.97), and several with team options that appear unlikely to be picked up: Toronto’s RA Dickey (6-10, 4.06), St. Louis’ Jaime Garcia (3-4, 1.98) and Kansas City’s Jeremy Guthrie (7-7, 5.65).
All stats were from the start of this past week.
### Dolphins players have been critical of Joe Philbin in the past, primarily for his lack of fire and motivational skills, but they are very happy with how he has run this training camp. They cite more efficient use of their time, that more is getting done in shorter periods and that their bodies feel better because they’re on the field a bit less.
### Among those who fully expect Jarvis Landry (who had 84 receptions as a rookie) to break the team record for catches in a season is the man who holds that record.
“It’s going down,” said OJ McDuffie, who had 90 in 1998. “Another Juice getting the record? I’m fine with it. He will get to 100-plus receptions.”
Landry was 14th in receptions among receivers last season but only 105th of 110th in per-catch average (9.0). The difference now, receivers coach Ken O’Keefe said, is “he’s quicker out of his breaks than he had been. And his speed is a little bit improved.”
### Memo to Dolphins receivers: If you want more balls thrown to you, don’t angrily order Ryan Tannehill to tell offensive coordinator Bill Lazor to throw you the ball more, then complain when it doesn’t change things.
That’s what the Dolphins have told people that Mike Wallace did last season. As one longtime NFL player said, it’s not the quarterback’s job to tell Lazor to do that.
The Dolphins believe there won’t be any of those shenanigans with this group. Wallace told Vikings reporters he needs to be a “better person. Some things I could’ve done better.”
### UM defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, asked about a former Hurricanes player saying the defense is too confusing for some players: “You wouldn’t have had the yards per game [Miami allowed last year] if guys were confused.”
The Hurricanes allowed 328 yards per game last season --- 14th-best in the country and tied with national champion Ohio State.
### Offensive coordinator James Coley said he has given quarterback Brad Kaaya more autonomy. One example: “If I give him a call and he has some uncertainties about the primary read of that call, he could not give the call to the offense and run a dummy cadence [and run the play he wants]. I don’t think that’s happened in a lot of places.”
### Coley is pushing Kaaya in unique ways. For example, he instructed him to game-plan every opponent on UM’s schedule and has given him the authority to design and install a play in every practice.
### Coley has challenged Gus Edwards, who has been the first-team running back since the spring: “He has to play through nicks and nacks. Not saying he’s soft. He’s 240 pounds. He’s a big back and he’s our fastest back.”
### UM says there has been no contact with David Beckham’s group, regarding a stadium, since the soccer group last month announced its intention to build a stadium next to Marlins Park.
And though UM would still entertain the thought if Beckham called, athletic director Blake James was impressed with his tour of Sun Life Stadium last week. “It was like walking into a new stadium. It will be a much better experience [for fans],” James said.
### Not only does the Heat have only three first-round draft picks in the next six years, but the recent trades have left Miami with only two second-rounders during that time, unless Orlando shockingly has a top-five record next season and Boston the same in 2019.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz